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The Differences Between Chinese and American Weddings

Carrying out wedding traditions is one of the most exciting parts about getting married. For Chinese Americans, wedding ceremonies can bring an array of questions from “What kind of decorations should I have?” to “How will we incorporate both our American and Chinese cultures for us to celebrate?” This guide will serve as a way to showcase various differences between Chinese and American weddings, spark some ideas on how to balance the two, and help you pick the aspects you like the most for your special day! 

4 Differences between Chinese and American Weddings

1. Wedding Day Ceremonies 

Chinese wedding tea ceremony

While American weddings include a reception, exchange of vows, and dinner, Chinese weddings are broken down with a series of events throughout the day. Anyone who has gone to a Chinese wedding in the past will most likely remember the tea ceremony that takes place early on during the day.  

For Chinese weddings, it’s a common tradition to host the tea ceremony In the morning, where family members gather together as the bride and groom serve their parents and elders tea in order of seniority. The tea ceremony symbolizes paying respect to and receiving blessings from their families and is carried out within many Chinese weddings. 

If you’re planning a Chinese wedding tea ceremony, get our comprehensive guide of everything you need to know here.


2. Entertainment 

A Chinese-Filipino wedding featuring a red cheongsam and lion dancing

At American weddings, entertainment happens after everyone has eaten. Everyone is invited to the dance floor to dance the night away with the bride and groom. Chinese weddings have various parts of entertainment throughout the night. Many times, there is a host or emcee who leads the guests through what’s happening in real-time from the cutting of the cake, playing a group game, etc. Chinese weddings may also have lion dances to symbolize good luck. Of course, we can’t forget the part where the bride and groom go around to each table and have a toast with all of their guests! 


3. Meal courses 

Differences in the types of food served between in Chinese vs. American weddings

It’s hard to talk about Chinese culture without discussing the delicious foods we eat! Since food is such a huge part of Chinese culture, Chinese weddings tend to have heavy planning around various courses and will be served throughout the night. While American weddings have a menu of appetizers, the main course, and the cutting of the cake, food served at Chinese weddings can feel like a never ending event (in the best way possible). Some common foods served at Chinese weddings include, lobster, shark fin soup, and roast duck.


4. Clothing

A traditional Chinese brocade wedding qipao

When wedding planning, American brides can be on the hunt for that one perfect white wedding dress to wear on her special day whereas Chinese brides typically wear a red wedding cheongsam for their ceremony. 

A modern red lace wedding cheongsam

Thus, for Chinese-American weddings, the bride and groom can wear dresses and attire that showcases the two cultural heritages that they are bringing together. Therefore, it is very common for the bride and groom to change at least once during their wedding day. 

While the tea ceremony may be celebrated by wearing a traditional Chinese wedding dress, the couple may change back into a more Western white wedding dress and suit during the dinner. 

Differences between Chinese and American wedding dresses

How to combine elements of both cultures for a Chinese-American Wedding
Combining both Chinese and American wedding traditions

There are many ways to combine both Chinese and American Wedding traditions into a celebration that is full for your special day. Some questions you can think about are, “What are aspects and traditions we definitely want to keep?” and “What is our budget?” 

1. Incorporate the color red into common Western wedding decorations

Beautiful Asian American Wedding Decoration Ideas

Red is a lucky and must-have color in Chinese weddings. Luckily, you can get really creative with how you add more red to your wedding decor. From incorporating them into your placeholders, wedding invitations, tea ceremony decor, floral placements, to delicious desserts, you can choose how you want to showcase your style.


2. Combine elements of Chinese culture into your white wedding dress

Modern Mermaid White Lace Wedding Cheongsam

A 2-in-1 dress can be a great and more cost-effective way of incorporating both Chinese and American wedding traditions. While it’s customary to wear a red wedding cheongsam for your Chinese wedding/tea ceremony and a white wedding dress for your Western ceremony/reception, many Chinese American brides are now opting to wear a modern white wedding cheongsam instead. 

For more modern white wedding cheongsam designs, you can browse our collection here.


3. Give your guests unique Chinese-inspired wedding favors

Custom Engraved Chopsticks for Wedding Favors

Thinking of wedding favors is another place where you can not only incorporate your personalities but your cultural heritage as well. Some unique Chinese-inspired wedding favor ideas are personalized chopsticks and double happiness gift boxes. Check out our post on Chinese wedding favor ideas for more inspiration.

For more tips and advice on how to create a modern wedding, check out our post on 30 Of the Best Ideas for a Modern Asian Wedding”. Remember to plan ahead for some cushion time if there’s any aspect you’d like to add or subtract from your celebration. Combining both American and Chinese traditions is a special touch, one that deserves time and attention! 


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