Tag Archives: Nanjing wedding

Drink till Death; Differences between Northern and Southern Chinese Weddings

China baijiu official banquetChina is such a vast and diverse country, where one province could be seen as its own nation. Therefore, rather unsurprisingly, wedding ceremonies are just as diverse, especially considering the 55 minorities that inhabit China, all with their very own traditions. From a more simplistic point of view, China is often divided by its own people into North and South. In my case that is rather convenient as I was a bridesmaid for my friend in the South and will be wed in the North.

While the list is certainly more exhaustive than the few examples below (I strive to expand it when THE DAY comes), find herein a few differences that I am currently aware of after conversation with Mr. Li.

1. The Time
The most major difference, and for me personally the most terrible news, is the time. The main ceremony is held in the evening in the Southern parts of the country; while the Northerners have the grand ceremony at lunch time. This means that all the preparations, the groom picking up the bride, visiting the couple’s house and the public ceremony need to take place in half a day, as opposed to a whole one. It also means that it is not uncommon for the bride and her consortium to have to get up at 4.30am. I can’t even imagine waking up at such an ungodly hour, I am considering instead just staying up all night and to stay awake by drinking unreasonable amounts of alcohol; either way my brain capacity is going to be about the same in each case. Also, my eyes are going to be puffy. I will be a bridezilla in terms of looks, that’s for sure, let’s hope My mood won’t match my looks. I am already wondering whether me and bridesmaids can go on strike until we are allowed a reasonable time to wake up.

2. The Tea
One part of the ceremony which seems to be specific to the South is the tea drinking. When I mentioned that both sides’ parents were served tea, upon which the couple said “Mum, Dad, please drink tea” to Mr.Li, he had never heard of this custom. One could think this represents the fact that the Southerners are civilized tea drinkers, whereas Inner Mongolians…well, let’s not jump to conclusions.

3. The Pick-Up
Yet, this was exactly the conclusion I arrived at after hearing Mr.Li’s description of his cousin picking up the bride at his wedding. As best man, Mr.Li had to force his way into the brides quarters and later make sure his cousin could bring the bride to the car. However, there seemed to have been a lot of pushing and shoving involved, culminating in Mr.Li picking up one of the bridesmaids, who had sat in the wedding car in an attempt to obstruct the groom, and dragging the young woman out of the vehicle. With this expectation I went into my friend’s wedding ready for battle, but there was no tugging, no pulling and not even shouting, just a rather calm exchange of red envelopes. Maybe this means we didn’t do our jobs well enough, or it means that the jokes and rumors about rough Northerners are true. I leave it up to your judgment.

Also, as you already might have deducted, in the Northern wedding it was the cousin who carried his own bride to the car, while in the Southern wedding it was the bride’s uncle. While I am not exactly sure why this is the case, it is probably more reasonable to do it the Inner Mongolian way, after all we don’t want to strain uncle’s back. More importantly, if you want a bride, you should have to work for it.

4. The Alcohol
The final difference is probably the one with the most severe consequences; the social drinking. The standing phrase 劝酒, which literally means to urge somebody to drink, is a custom especially at weddings in which particularly Chinese males encourage (or force, depending on your point of view) each other to drink alcohol as a sign of showing respect and giving face. In traditional Chinese culture it is considered rude not to drink if someone toasts you (which usually happens every time they take a sip, so every few minutes). In fact, people who want to drink alcohol will often toast you just to have an excuse to drink; a dangerous game for all involved. If one does not want to drink, it is common to offer up some excuses, therefore it is not unusual to hear a Chinese person say that they are allergic to alcohol, or if they are a girl, it might be “that time of the month” during which of course alcohol intake, aside from cold foods and drinks, is strictly prohibited.

However, a major difference between North and South is that the former are infamous for their 劝酒 habits, I.e. they won’t take no for an answer and might drink you into a coma if you are not careful. Now, while it is of course not PC at all to generalize on such a scale, the Inner Mongolians are particularly infamous for their drinking habits and from what I have seen so far, I am afraid they are not so far-fetched. Mr. Li’s uncle “forced” him to drink until the poor boy threw up during Chinese New Year and his own son developed a severe case of pancreatitis after a particularly heavy drinking session. This is one of the reasons I am already a little worried, not only for my own sake, but for me Mr. Li’s due to the 喜酒 practice, the drinking of happy alcohol which I described in an earlier post. I personally am going to see to it that my glass is filled with Martini instead of Baijiu. After all, as long as I am on my own toxic turf, I can take on those Inner Mongolians without any problem (well, that’s what I tell myself before I sleep at night).

Those are, for now, all the differences I have spotted, yet I am convinced there will be many more and hopefully I will manage to spot them when the time comes.

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The Southern Chinese Wedding Part 3 – The Ceremony

Wedding jinling hotel Nanjing bridesmaidThinking back to the wedding I had attended in Jiaxing, the bride and groom as well as their parents, the bridesmaids and best men had all lined up neatly in row to greet their guests, so I expected that it was going to be the same for us. However, the groom and bride had chosen to take pictures with the arriving guests while their parents were standing at the entrance to the celebration hall. The rest of the bridesmaidal crew disappeared to the toilets to take a rest, while I, worried I would miss the cue to go on stage, was left to wander around aimlessly while the guests trickled into the hotel, feeling like the most useless bridesmaid in the history of weddings.

There was a registry book laid out at the reception table where all guests signed their name after handing the obligatory red envelope to the relative behind the table. Then they moved on to have their picture taken with the newly weds; the image was immediately printed out on site as a lovely memorandum for the guests.

We were told that the wedding would begin at 6.18 pm (or 18.18 o’clock) as the wedding has to not only be on an auspicious date it further has to start at an auspicious time. In case the guests were late, which in Chinese culture is often the case, we would have to wait until 18:58 hrs to start the proceedings. This is exactly what happened to the dismay of our growling stomachs. In the meantime, after the photo session with the arriving guests, the bride had to drag her fluffy train to the changing room in order to put on her veil for the show.

Then the doors to the hall opened, we walked along the slippery stage luckily without incident and the host of the evening welcomed all the guests. The lovely bride managed to maneuver her way up into the centre of the stage gracefully; no easy feat considering the dress she was wearing. Her father handed her over to her husband and they performed the ring exchanging ceremony; this Western tradition has found its way into Chinese weddings, however the irony is that the rings are rented and need to be returned afterwards. After all, the show must go on.

If memory serves, at this point in time the bride and groom rushed off for yet another outfit change, she slipping into a more practical but very glamorous caramel colored dress covered in shimmering Rhine stones.

Then the parents came to the stage; speeches were made and hugs exchanged, very similar to Western fashion. The food had already been served and so the guests were munching away at Chinese gourmet delicacies and drinking over 1000 RMB a bottle baijiu (Chinese schnapps).

Later two of the couple’s good friends performed one of my favorite Chinese rock songs on stage; live singing seems to be a very typical part of Chinese weddings, during the first wedding I attended it was the groom who blasted out a love song for his new wife.

Then it was time for the Chinese equivalent of throwing the bouquet. Only the bridesmaids were asked to come to the stage and the bride held four strings in her hand, one of which was attached to the flower bouquet, also in her hand. The four girls had to step away until all but one string had dropped; the girl holding it is due to marry next.

After this there was a little wedding entertainment as the host asked a number of guests questions about the couple. Upon giving the right answer they received a small present. I won a blue, very cosy cushion which had been part of the wedding decor for remembering where the two lovebirds had met. I am resting on it while I am writing this article.

The couple was off again for dress change no. 4 of the day; now it was time for Cherry to slip into something red. It is a must for the bride to wear one red dress, often a Qipao amongst the more traditional-minded, since red is considered a lucky colour. With all the dress changes Chinese brides have to go through it is a common joke at the bride does not actually take part in her own wedding; in any respect she never gets to eat her wedding dinner  (well, I might just end up in the Guinness book of world records for being the first bride at a Chinese wedding to actually eat her food; you didn’t think I was going to miss out on that did you?!

Upon their return they had to start drinking the “happy alcohol”; this means they have to go to every table in the room (probably about 20 – 30) and toast the table usually with Baijiu. Anyone who has had Baijiu before knows that the stuff could probably kill you if you had to drink 30 shots of it; I am not joking (okay, maybe a little). Therefore a number of coping mechanisms have been developed in order to give the guests face but not end up in danger of alcohol poisoning. For one, the parents can go around the tables and drink for the couple. The best men are also frequently given this task. Some brides who don’t drink alcohol might pretend they are drinking baijiu while actually the clear liquid in her glass is just water. Another tactic is for the bride to bring a towl with her and once she sips the liquor she keeps it in her mouth, pretends to cough and wipe her face with the towl and spits the alcohol into the towl. The groom however is usually not so lucky and so most of the time, his “wedding night” is spent being passed out on the bed from too much alcohol.

Luckily for the drinking couple, an average Chinese wedding only lasts about three hours. The guests come, the guests eat, the guests get drunk and then leave as soon as the food does. So therefore, after they had done their rounds, this was the end of the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony.

One final part that is worth mentioning is that the video shooting done throughout the day, which I described in an earlier post, had been speed edited and was broadcast on the big screen giving the guests who had not been there in the morning the lovely opportunity to be part of it after all.

Since Cherry is a person with a very Western outlook who enjoys a good night out on the town, the couple booked at club for after the wedding with free flow alcohol. Suffice it to say I have no idea when I got home, unlucky for me I had to get to work the next day, in a right state. But it was a brilliant night.

Well, that’s it folks, my bridesmaid experience of a Southern Chinese wedding. Coming up soon, I will explain some of the differences in comparison to a Northern Chinese wedding.

Read you soon!

Missed the last part of the Southern Chinese Wedding Series? Read it here.

TSCW Part 2.1 – The Rehearsal

imageAfter lunch, the whole group returned to the hotel. It was time for the bride to switch outfits for the first of many times in the coming hours. While the dress she wore in the morning was more practical in terms of skirt length to enable her to move around easily, dress number two had a train any peacock would envy. We were allowed to rest for an hour in the meantime, during which the bridesmaids decided to take an afternoon shower and a nap. The thought of having to reapply my make-up was too terrifying for me to have any desire for a shower and after all, we had mainly frozen throughout the day, there was no sweaty work-out involved as far as I remembered, so I was happy to just lounge about on a chair and stare into space. This was also a time to sort out the question of the red envelope. According to most of my sources it was not customary for bridesmaids to give red envelopes to the couple; however, I had been receiving conflicting information as others said they did give money. Luckily, I had prepared some just in case, since suddenly a red envelope frenzy broke out as two of our party of four announced they had not brought a red envelope and began plying open those they had been previously given in order to recycle them for their own purposes. Then of course there was the question of the amount to give; in Beijing it is customary to give about 1000, whereas in Nanjing, where living costs and salaries are lower, the money present will also be lower. In addition, the amount will vary depending on how close one is to the bride and groom. My foreign ignorance of what was appropriate in this situation did not help either and I broke into a small panic for a short while, envisioning the end of my friendship with Cherry if I offended her with too little money. Luckily, Mr. Li was at hand (or rather on We Chat) to calm me down. After our short respite it was time to go down to the main hall, in which the reception would take place. We met downstairs at 4.30pm to practice our grand entry. Bridesmaids and best men were partnered up and had to march onto the stage, instructed by the host of the evening on exactly how to walk, where to stand and how to position the hands during the ceremony (crossed and just below the bust in case you were curious). The poor devil was highly disappointed in our ineptitude at synchronicity; the day before he had hosted a military wedding.

“Those guys were perfectly in sync during their entrance. You guys are ok,”

he announced, barely able to hide the disappointment from his voice. The practice session came with its own little drama, as three out of four bridesmaids (including myself) slipped on the slick surface of the stage. Delightful images of my being unable to hold my balance and landing on my backside in front of the entire hall of hundreds of people to make an utter fool of myself popped into my mind, filling me with immense dread. I had been less nervous going into my final exam at university. I further managed to earn a portion of extra disapproval from Mr. Host, as I was wearing shoes with an ever so slight indication of a heel, as opposed to my three comrades in their killer plateaus. While they had spent the majority of the day suffering the hell that is a high-heeled shoe and were switching back and forth between a comfy second pair and the vanity footwear, I was still jumping about the place like Bambi. But of course this meant that I, with my naturally stumpy statue, looked like a dwarf compared to the already tall Chinese girls in their even taller shoes. Now, this is no news, at 1.56m I generally find myself at the short end whenever I am in the presence of almost anybody in this world; but it did unleash great disapproval from el maestro that I had not even attempted to conceal my shortcoming by wearing a pair of break-your-necks (or your ankle, at least).

“No I do not have a higher pair of shoes with me,”

I said decidedly exasperated and possibly ever so slightly grumpy. Ah well, there was nothing to be done anyway. After a couple of test runs, Mr. Host decided he had done all he could for us, handed us a flower coronal to be placed on top of our heads and sent us on our way. The aforementioned head ornaments were received with scepticism among our group of young women but after a few minutes of pulling and tugging, they had been more or less aesthetically arranged and the show could begin.

Missed the previous post in the Southern Chinese Wedding Series? Read it here.

Want to continue reading? Find the final part of the series here.

The Southern Chinese Wedding Part 2 – The Couple’s Home

Wedding nanjing The stretch limo and all the bridal party’s cars now had to make their way to the loVebird’s new residence, while the bride’s parents stayed behind at the hotel, waving their daughter good bye forever. Well, only metaphorically speaking; China has moved on a little bit since the rule of the Emperors. Then again, there have been reports of divorced women not being allowed to spend Chinese New Year’s at their parent’s place, because in some more traditional areas this is seen as a sign of bad luck. Imagine your parents telling you,

“You are not allowed to come home for Christmas and are rather going to have to book a room in a hotel if you want to see us.”

There’s that Chinese superstition again.

Anyway, we drove through the city to arrive at the couple’s new home, where the relatives and bridal party sat down for a drink and some small snacks. Then some more tea was was served, this time to the groom’s parents and it was time for them to be called Mum and Dad by Cherry. More red envelopes for the couple and more pictures of everyone.

Then bridesmaids and best men followed the newly weds downstairs into the yard, where more professional wedding photographs were taken in a very windy and cold environment. One of the bridesmaids remarked:

“Now I finally know what those big film stars feel like, running around in nothing but their pretty dresses in the freezing cold. I am glad I don’t have to do this all the time.”

After this photo interlude was over, everyone went for a delicious lunch together. The bridesmaids left and right of me were complaining that their dresses were to tight and the pressure on their stomachs was apparently keeping them from eating much. I, used to wearing corsets that are a lot stiffer than the dress in question, had no such problem and so I munched away happily on Beijing Duck, delicious aubergine and an array of other wonderful dishes. Hey, if there is a choice to be made between looking thinner and filling my stomach with yummy Chinese food, I forget all vanity in an instant; wouldn’t you? It was also a smart move, as this was around 12pm and we would not get any food until about 7.30pm that night, by which time there was a flock of starving bridesmaids surrounding me, while I was remembering the delightful taste of my lunch.

Missed the previous post in the Southern Chinese Wedding Series? Read it here.

Want to continue reading? Find the final part of the series here.

TSCW Part 1.3 The Arrival of the Groom

Wedding chinaIn the meantime, while we were simultaneously posing for professional photos, recording messages for the couple on video, selfieing ourselves to death, and uploading our efforts to WeChat, we had to prepare the games for the groom and his best men. In Chinese culture, when the groom arrives to pick up his bride, it is the responsibility of the bridesmaids and the bride’s uncle to not let them enter. They will shut the door (usually two doors) and only open it after they have been given red envelopes (红包) with money in them. After we had each been given an envelope with some money (the whole act is more for the sake of ceremony than an attempt to bankrupt the groom), the young men were admitted to the hotel room. However, Roger was not yet allowed to take his beautiful Cherry with him. Now, the bridesmaids in turn gave him and his friends a number of tasks to complete, in order to prove their worthiness of the big prize. Roger was asked what Cherry wore the first time they met and what her favourite two foods are. Then he had to identify his wife’s mouth from a sheet of paper with lipstick impressions; he did fail utterly on the first attempt, due to the fact that Cherry had managed to make the impression of her lips look nothing like her actual mouth. Finally, the best men then had to do 30 push-ups; reason being that Roger and most of his entourage are professional tennis players.

There are a number of different games and tricks that are usually played on this occasion and actually the list of activities we had prepared only came about because smart phones were whipped out and the internet frantically searched. It comforted me a little bit, knowing that I was not the only one who was clueless in this situation.

Then came the final quest; finding the bride’s shoes. This is a non-optional part of the morning activities and it is a task set for the groom to prove his worth to the bride. She cannot leave her mother’s home (in our case the hotel acting metaphorically, since the bride is originally from a different province) without wearing both her shoes. The internet suggest that it is customary to hide only one shoe, whereas in our case we hid both; it took extra patience and another round of red envelopes to find the items in question.

The next part of the ceremony was the serving of tea, seemingly a more Southern Chinese ritual. The maid-of-honour handed a tray of tea to the bride, who in turn served it to her parents. Then the couple addresses their elders with “Mother, father, please drink tea”. Addressing one’s parents-in-law as mother and father is one of the most important acts of the wedding ceremony; before getting married young people call their partners parents aunt and uncle. At this moment of the ceremony, the bride and mother started to cry, showing clearly what an important act this is.

While drinking tea, the parents handed a big red envelope to the new couple, so they may start their married life without financial worries. Finally, the parents feed the young couple “sweet soup” 甜汤, a liquid with a congee like substance and ingredients such as dates and beans. Custom holds it that if the couple eat sweet soup during their wedding ceremony, they will spend their life in happiness and their love will always remain sweet (and here I thought that it had something to do with the word sounding similar to the Chinese word for heaven 天堂).

When they had eaten up, the photographers told mother and daughter, who were still in tears, to hug for the cameras, followed by more sweet soup; this time to be fed to the bridesmaids by the best men.

After that, the bride’s uncle had to carry her on his back all the way to the elevator downstairs to the waiting stretch limo. This is another interesting tradition that shows how big and diverse the country is. On the one hand, in some areas it is customary for the bride’s side to take the young woman piggy back, usually a brother or cousin; only if none of the aforementioned are available, does the honour fall to the uncle. However, it seems that in some Chinese regions it is actually the husband’s family, who needs to step up and escort the bride away on their backs. Either way, carrying the bride to the vehicle, which will take them to the new home, is a symbolic act. Since marriage in China used to equal the woman leaving her family and becoming part of the family-in-law, she would often be sad and not want to leave; so she would be carried away to make sure she would join her new family as was intended and not pull a runaway bride last minute.

Into the elevator of the Jinling hotel, through the lobby to the exit and into the car, the uncle did a very impressive job of delivering the bride safely into the groom’s custody. But then, she is tiny and delicate, as so many of the locals are; I am already wondering about which unlucky git gets to heave me across Hohhot…

In front of the open car door two red blocks had been placed on which the bride had to step with her bare fit before the groom came up to her with the shoes, he had managed to find, and slipped them on for her. This was the final act of the groom coming to pick up his bride and whisk her away into a new life.

Missed the previous post in the Southern Chinese Wedding Series? Read it here.

Want to continue reading? Find the next part of the series here.

TSCW Part 1.2 “Looking Natural” – Early Morning Photo Session

Nanjing weddingThe next two hours went by in the blink of an eye, we had to rush to get make up and dresses on, while a camera and a photography team chased us around giving us instructions on where to stand and what to do for the best, “natural” shots. This was an incredibly interesting experience; most of us who have Chinese friends will have seen the professional photos taken during the morning of the wedding with the bride sitting on the bed with her white dress, while bridesmaids and mother are fussing over her; everything from doing the bride’s make up to dresses being tied up (of course only from an appropriate angle) is documented for future generations.

Being used to the Western style of wedding photography and filming, where the photographer rarely interrupts while everyone is busy getting ready and tries to get an impressive natural shot, I was surprised to find the cameraman constantly giving us instructions on what to do. The maid-of-honour and I had to take the wedding dress out into the hallway and carry it to the door, while she had to say “Let us take the dress to the bride”, just in case it was not clear this was what we were doing. Whenever we did something off-script either of the photography or filming team liked, we were then ordered to repeat it multiple times. This included our sitting awkwardly in front of the bathroom’s glass wall through which the bride’s head was visible, taking selfies. Try holding your balance while squatting in heals, simultaneously looking for good selfie angles to hide your puffy, sleepy eyes and making duck faces for the benefit of the camera for five minutes; now there’s a challenge.

Then we were told to start tidy up the pile of discarded clothes on the bed, again for the benefit of the camera, so for the next five minutes we were made to fold up all the clothes neatly, just to chuck them back onto the bed in a mess and begin the whole process anew. After folding and unfolding a scarf for the fifth time I did begin to feel the teeniest bit silly. But hey, the pictures turned out great!

Missed the previous post in the Southern Chinese Wedding Series? Read it here.

Want to continue reading? Find the next part of the series here.

TSCW Part 1.1 – The Morning of the Wedding (aka Taxi Trauma)

Let us begin with the morning. Since the groom was set to arrive at the bride’s room in the Jinling Hotel, Nanjing, around 8.30 am, our bridesmaid duties called for an arrival at 6.30 am. This meant getting up at 5.30 am. If you know me at all, you realise that 5.30 am in my books is generally not a time I like to be awake, unless I am returning home from a wild night out. Well, now I am slowly getting to an age where even that is not a fun prospect anymore. So, yes, getting up this early, all I wanted to do was stuff the worms down that impudent early bird’s throat and crawl back into my toasty bed. But for my friends I will do almost anything (unless illegal, of course, cough cough); even get up at such an ungodly hour.
Naturally, catching a taxi this early is a feat in itself and so, with my thousand bags and loose approximation of a hairdo, I stood at a deserted crossing trying to catch my ride to the hotel.

If you have spent some time in China recently, you will know about Didi Dache (滴滴打车). This is one of a number of APPs, which have revolutionized or ruined the taxi transport industry, depending on your personal point of view. The idea is simple; passengers send out a message where they are and where they are going to all the vehicles using the app, and the taxi driver who would like to take the job accepts the request via the software. After a few months of getting everyone excited about this magical tool, the announcement was made that a cooperation between Tencent and the producers had been struck; from then on it was possible to pay via the WeChat online payment software. Now you could order and pay for your taxi all with merely your phone.

Great, right? Wrong! This software has completely spoilt the Chinese taxi market. In order to promote use of said app, the developers reward taxi drivers by giving them money. Passengers were also rewarded with virtual money initially, until they became dependent enough on it, which was when they were cut off. Now, everytime one uses the taxi app and then pays with the WeChat app, a taxi money lottery begins, one’s switched on friends can, by clicking a link on an automatic post made to WeChat’s “Moments” (read wall), grab some credit for future taxi rides. What the app has done though, is it has given China’s taxi drivers, most of which are already infamous for their attitude and unwillingness to do their job, an unrivalled amount of power.

Nowadays, oftentimes passenger-less cars will pass you by because someone pre-booked via the app. It is now becoming increasingly difficult for non-app users to hail taxis. In addition, there is a function that one can add extra money to the bill (between ¥5 and ¥20) as an incentive to taxi drivers to prioritize the request; especially during rush hour no cabbie will accept any calls unless you are willing to pay extra, thereby increasing the taxi prices. And finally, drivers will get incredibly irate if you use the app to call them but then want to pay cash and not via the online payment method WeChat. I got shouted at repeatedly and one cheeky driver actually demanded I pay him the ¥5 he would have owned otherwise (although now I know that if you simply do not cancel the order, the cabbies will get their money anyway). This has led to my developing a strong aversion to Didi Dache, and I originally deleted it from my phone.

However, on this occasion I thought, probably better to use the app, so that I would quickly get a car. And yes, it worked, my request was immediately accepted. I called the driver to confirm, and he said he would be round in a second. Elated, I waited, and waited, and waited. The great and terrible thing about the app is that you can see where the car is; in my case it was standing firmly still, parked in a side street, not moving an inch. Ten minutes and three desperate phone calls later, with the driver promising each time he would be right there, and then probably continuing to smoke his cigarette and drink his morning tea, while lounging in his reclined car seat, I had had enough. It was 6.15 and the taxi ride to the hotel was exactly 15 minutes; I had left in good time, and due to the lazy cab driver I was now cutting it very close. This was when a taxi came to my rescue the traditional way; I jumped in, instructed the driver on where I was going and promptly deleted the blasted software from my phone for good.

Pulling into the hotel at 6.33 am, with my knowledge of the common Chinese interpretation of punctuality, I hoped I would not be the last to arrive. However, I was not that lucky (partly because most of them stayed in the hotel, anyway). In dear Cherry’s luxurious hotel room, preparation was already running at full speed. Two of the bridesmaids had already done their make-up (I believe that they were the more experienced ones, whereas myself and number four were bridesmaidal amateurs and had come fully unprepared).

The Southern Chinese Wedding (Part 1)

Chinese WeddingWe all know the best way to preparation for anything in life is experience; so what better way to practice for my own big day then being part of another’s? As previously mentioned, I have experienced one Chinese wedding so far, however just as one of many regular guests and not as one of the bridal party. Since, once a woman is married in China, she can also not be a bridesmaid anymore, I consider myself incredibly lucky that my good friend Cherry, who I met in Nanjing, asked me to be her bridesmaid.

Especially since one of my dear future bridesmaids, the lovely Andrea, requested that I write a post describing a Chinese wedding, I am happy to report that I managed to handle bridesmaid duties while simultaneously typing even the most insignificant detail of the ceremony into my phone; although how well I handled this act of multi-tasking I will leave up to Cherry to decide. This is undoubtedly going to be a rather long entry, so I will be splitting it into shorter, more easily to digest entries over the next few days. Enjoy, and feel free to ask any questions if my scattered brain left anything out.

Traditionally, Chinese weddings consist of three major segments, broadly speaking. The morning during which the bridesmaids and the bride get ready and await the arrival of the groom with his best men (the number of best men has to equal the number of bridesmaids, in this case four of each).

After the bride has been retrieved by the groom, the bridal party including close family such as uncles, aunties and cousins, drive to the couple’s new home, which is usually part of the “marriage package” in order for the bride to consent to marriage.

When everyone has oooh’d and aaah’d sufficiently at the lovebird’s new residence, and after a short lunch and respite in our case, the actual wedding ceremony is held, usually at a grand hotel with food and entertainment.

Let’s get ready to take a closer look at Cherry’s special day!

Want to continue reading? Find the next part of the series here.