7 Things You Need to Take Note of at Chinese Weddings

We’re more familiar with Western-ish weddings these days. The bride walks down the aisle, the ceremony begins, rings exchanged, the pair’s first kiss as a married couple, and finally the reception. You can pretty much learn the guest etiquettes to these from the movies.

But do the same rules apply for Chinese weddings? Yes, and no. Here are some things you need to take note of when attending one:

1. Be nice, don’t wear red

red dress
Photo credit: Taobao

But… isn’t red a lucky colour? So why can’t we wear red?

That’s because brides will usually wear red during their wedding receptions, as it’s considered an auspicious colour for their big day. It’s also a very eye-catching colour. So if you want to be a nice guest and not upstage the bride, do wear dresses of other colours when you attend the dinner.

2. Don’t go full-black or white too

black white suit
Photo credit: Jesse Maricic & Micah Gianneli

Because black and white are traditionally associated with funerals, and worse still, bad luck. While most modern couples are fine with their male guests donning black and white suits, they’ll be appreciative if you can switch the black tie with something brighter: like maroon, green, or even pink.

3. It’s rude not to ‘yum seng’

chinese wedding dinner
Photo credit: Capitol Romance

It’s alright if you don’t have alcohol in your glass – tea, water, or soft drinks are fine too. Just like the Western toast, ‘yum seng’ is a gesture symbolises celebration. After the fifth or sixth dish is served, the happy couple will start to make their ‘yum seng’ rounds. So raise your glass and toast to their happy marriage!

4. Only bring a plus one if it’s indicated in the invitation

chinese wedding invitation card
Photo credit: Qing Ji

This applies to all weddings, but it’s especially important when it comes to Chinese wedding dinners. This is because the dinner is arranged precisely for the number of guests the couple is prepared to host or RSVP-ed. If you really want to bring your significant other or child, do clear it with the couple to avoid any awkward situations, ie. not having enough cutleries prepared.

5. Angpows over other forms of gifts

chinese wedding angpow
Photo credit: Picasa Web

Guests generally give angpows instead of home appliances or dining ware to the married couple. It’s a tradition that the Chinese have been practising for centuries. It’s up to the guest to put as much money as they want into the red packet. Generally, guests do not give less than their dinner’s worth.

Here’s a guide to the appropriate ang pow amount to give.

6. Make sure your clothes are ‘expandable’

chinese wedding dinner food
Photo credit: South China Morning Post

Because you’re gonna be eating a lot all night. And we mean, a lot.

Chinese wedding dinners usually have eight to ten dishes, all made from the most luxurious ingredients to create rich flavours. So if you feel that the shirt or dress you’re planning to wear is already tight when you’re on an empty stomach, consider exchanging it with something more comfortable. It’s for your tummy, and photo’s sake.

7. Enjoy the dinner and stay till the end

chinese wedding dinner
Photo credit: Marie France Asia

Food is the best part of a Chinese wedding, so we don’t see why people need to leave halfway. It’s also considered rude to leave before it ends – and some might say, unlucky. However, if you really need to go, do so after the ‘yum seng’ session. Don’t forget to let the couple know!

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written by Esther Chung


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