Chinese weddings are rich with traditions, symbolism, and rituals. If you have Chinese heritage or are marrying a person who does, it would be wonderful to incorporate some Chinese wedding customs into your own special day. These are some tips on how to plan a beautiful East meets West wedding.
Unlike in America, white is not the dominant color in Chinese weddings. Red is the lucky color for Chinese brides and grooms, and this is a great place to begin with your East meets West celebration. Chinese brides will traditionally wear gorgeous red silk cheongsams for their weddings. These special long dresses are created from the most beautiful silk brocades, which are often adorned with patterns of flowers, birds, and other symbols. Many Chinese-American brides will choose to wear the cheongsam during the ceremony, and then change to a classic white wedding gown and bridal jewelry for the reception (or vice versa).
You can pay tribute to your Chinese heritage in the flowers that you use for the bouquets and centerpieces as well. Some of the favored flowers for Chinese brides are peonies, orchids, and lotus blossoms. The combination of plum blossoms and butterflies stands for long life, and these symbols would make a lovely addition to your centerpieces. A beautiful silk butterfly perched on a plum blossom would make a wonderful surprise accent in your floral displays.
Speaking of symbolism, it is very important in Chinese rites of passage. The double happiness symbol is one that is perfect to use in a wedding. You can set the tone with a rich red double happiness sign embossed on your invitations. The symbol can also be used to decorate the wedding cake, on the favor boxes, as well as on the programs, menus, and placecards.
Tea is also a major part of Chinese weddings. It is customary for the bride and groom to serve tea to their families following the marriage ceremony. In American weddings, this traditional tea ceremony is usually held either between the ceremony and the cocktail hour, or during the cocktail hour, with immediate family attending the tea service and the rest of the guests going to the cocktail hour. During the tea ceremony, the bride and groom serve the members of the groom's family first, beginning with his parents, and then going down the line from the eldest to the youngest.
This same order of tea service is then repeated with the bride's family, if they are present (traditionally, the tea ceremony was only for the groom's family, but these days, many couples will opt to honor both families). As each guest receives their cup of tea, they place a lucky red envelope on the tea platter. The lucky bridal envelope contains either money or jewelry. If couples wish to have all of their guests witness the tea ceremony, it is a good idea to put a little note explaining the custom in the wedding programs.
There are many other wonderful Chinese wedding traditions to think about using in your wedding. They range from décor like paper lanterns to photos in memory of ancestors to exciting performances involving firecrackers, drums, or lion dancers. Whether you decide to have an authentic Chinese wedding, or just to incorporate a few of the customs, it will be sure to make your wedding day more meaningful and memorable.