Last weekend an old university friend of mine got married. By chance she and her husband live in Guangzhou (1 hour away from Shenzhen by the fast CRH train) so I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. If you were expecting something traditionally Chinese then I’m afraid you may be disappointed. Most Chinese couples today choose something akin to the western format, in style if not substance anyway.
It was a civil ceremony witnessed by a local official held at a nice hotel and luckily the weather was good enough to hold it outside. The ceremony began with the couple processing in together (not escorted by the father) and presided over by a host (who even sang a song later in the evening!). It was all in Chinese but someone helpfully translated for me 🙂
The couple gave short speeches about how they met and their appreciation for each others family after which the parents gave their blessings to the match. They exchanged rings and vows (written by themselves) then drank to the health of the parents. In China when two people get married the bride effectively becomes part of the grooms family and subject to doing their bidding. You can understand why the “cruel mother-in-law” is a frequent theme in Chinese literature.
Just before the end of the ceremony there was the very non-Chinese throwing of the wedding bouquet which got some of the girls very excited! This was followed by a tasty western-style buffet dinner and some games. The couple then went round to each table in turn to give a toast. If there a large number of guests friends of the couple will help with the drinking to avoid them getting completely drunk!
Instead of giving wedding presents guests give “Hongbao” which are little red envelopes containing cash (the same as is given at Spring Festival). The red colour is supposed to symbolise good luck and happiness. The ones shown above are some I have collected – many shops (IKEA, Coca-cola, Mc Donald’s etc.) were give out branded versions during the holidays.
A pleasant day was had by all and I wish the happy couple the best of luck for the future!