When the wife & I got married last year, we had to decide whether the reception would be a traditional Western or Chinese style celebration. Given that we are both foodies, we did not hesitate and found a Chinese banquet restaurant that would host the reception. In my opinion, the main difference between a Western & Chinese banquet is the amount of food.
While Western reception typically have 3 courses, a traditional Chinese banquet will have upwards of 10+ courses!!! Months before our wedding, I told many of my friends about the reception details…many of them have never been to a Chinese banquet, so they were excited to hear the amount of food that would be served. So below outlines what you can expect when you attend a Chinese-style wedding reception.
Similarities of Western & Chinese Receptions
At least in the case of my wedding & other friends who have had Chinese receptions, there is a good amount of Western elements that are incorporated into the celebration. (FYI-we live in the United States, so it may be different for Chinese-style weddings in other countries). Here are a few parts that are typically similar to Western receptions:
- Bride & Groom 1st Dance
- Best man & Maid of Honor speech
- Cake cutting
- Bouquet & Garter belt toss
- Lots of Dancing
- Adult beverages!
What makes Chinese Wedding Banquets unique
As you enter a Chinese banquet hall, you may notice the amount of Red around the inside. Red has powerful meanings in Asian cultures – it represents good fortune, good health, & celebration (among a few other meanings). If you see Red, then you are in the right place.
If you are invited to the Tea Ceremony, then it is worth seeing the event. Usually in the past, I have seen the Tea Ceremony taking place at a family member’s home. Lately, the weddings I have attended use the Banquet hall as the venue for the ceremony. The tea ceremony is reserved for family members and possibly close friends before all the guests arrive. The bride and groom will serve tea to their elders, married couples, & older individuals. The older family members will drink the tea, then give gifts like Red envelopes (stuffed with $$$), jewelry, and wedding cards to the bride & groom.
After the bride & groom are done serving all the older family members, it is their turn to be served. Younger family members will serve tea to the bride & groom who are seated. After drinking the tea, the bride & groom will give Red envelopes to the young ones.
What does the Tea Ceremony represent??? The ceremony is a way to pay respects and accept/provide gifts to the family members. Again, if you are invited, then you must see this!
The Food – Come Hungry!
By far the main difference is the food…10+ courses served family style. Please – do not be intimidated! Many of the dishes will be meat heavy, but if you are vegetarian just let the planners know in advance. Many of the dishes served are specifically made for special occasions like weddings. It is hard to put into words, so here are food pictures of a friend’s wedding:
Yes, you will have a lot of food – do not be overwhelmed, enjoy the experience!
Other Events that may Happen
- Table Toasting: Bride & Groom along with their parents will stop by each table to toast and thank the guests for attending. Also the guest can say any congratulations they wish.
- Permission to Take the Bride: Like the Tea Ceremony, this may occur at a family member’s home before all the wedding activities. In my case, this event occurred at the Banquet hall before all the main guests arrived. Basically, this is a fun way for the bride’s family to accept the groom into the family. My job was to “bribe” the family members with Red envelopes, so that I could get married! In return, the bride’s family set up challenges like making me perform push-ups, dances, pretty much anything goofy. It is all in good fun & sets the tone for the celebration!
Wedding receptions are geared to celebrate a marriage, whether a Western, Chinese, or any other culture. It is a gathering of friends and family to enjoy the time together. When you attend a wedding, just remember what it represents and you will have a grand time!
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