Wedding Photo Album - Chinese Style
Getting Married in China
I had the delightful experience of attending several different types of weddings in China – including my own! Yes, I married a Chinese man in China! It was no easy task, as getting information on the correct procedures to follow for acceptance was not easy to get. Not many foreigners actually marry in China. Ours was probably similar to what we would consider a “court house” wedding – only there wasn’t even a court house ceremony. The whole thing was just the signing of documents at different official department offices and having medical examinations.
I think things are starting to ease up some in China now, but in the years 2000-2006, if you wanted to marry, you had to go back to your home province to do the paperwork process - which was costly and time consuming for young couples. Many young couples celebrate their marriage at the first Chinese New Year - after the marriage documents arrive.
My marriage was probably the most simplistic type of procedure. We just wanted to get legal – so that my husband would not get hauled off to jail for living with a foreigner and not being married or fully divorced. Those laws have changed now.
Most Chinese families, having just one child in the family, now make a very big production of the wedding– even in the country side. Weddings can range from large to small and are full of culture and tradition – even though they may appear to be quite westernized looking from the outside in.
Something that is extremely well done in China is the Wedding Photo Album. That is usually done over a period of several days, long before the actual wedding. The pictures produced are fantasy and dreams - but a wonderful keepsake - one that every couple looks forward to creating and showing to their friends and family.
At rich weddings, you may go to a 5 star hotel for the lavish reception. You will be expected to give a "red envelope" containing money as a gift to the newlyweds. To show that they are not in need of your money - don't be surprised if later in the evening, they come back to you and present you with a red envelope containing half the money you originally gave them!
It is not uncommon for the Bride to have 3 wedding dresses. She will have a white western style gown, a traditional red qipao and perhaps another lovely ballroom gown - all worn over the course of the same day.
At the wedding reception, it is common procedure to hire host for entertainment. They will play games and sing songs during the course of the dinner, while the bride and groom go from table to table toasting their guests. The bride and groom do not eat at the reception.
In the countryside, firecrackers (cherry bombs) are a popular way of celebrating a wedding.
Honeymoons – may be spent with entire family.
It is not uncommon to move into the family home with parents for the first several years of marriage. Usually, the bride moves into the grooms family home. Modern parents now ask that before they give permission for their daughter to marry, the groom must prove that he has enough money to buy a home for their daughter.
The Chinese still rely on fortune tellers to predict the most auspicious days (and years) to marry. Many couples will postpone their wedding plans until the right day or right year that promises success. In some provinces, you will find very large groups of couples getting married the same day - because they believe in the luck of that day - for most success in their marriage.
In China, it is common for many young couples live together the year before they are actually married and start on the paperwork process. The most common time to celebrate a marriage is at Chinese New Year or on auspicious days.