Avoiding the Divorce of Cultures During an Intercultural Marriage

With the union of man from a western culture and a woman from a Chinese culture, the question is, how do both of the traditions fit? Does the couple lean more towards one culture or do they find a good balance of both traditions? Here is an inside look at a mixed wedding in China, from the bridesmaids point of view.

The day started off at the brides parents home, where the bride got ready and dressed in traditional Chinese garments with a simple, yet traditional, hairpiece. Here, she awaited the groom who arrived with his groomsmen and had to complete a series of games in order to reach the bride who was locked away in her room. A few of the bridesmaids waited outside of the room to watch the groom and his friends play the games and as they get closer, the bridesmaids became meaner in order to make it harder for them to reach the bride.

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Traditional Chinese wedding dress

The final step before the groom could enter the room was getting past the final bridesmaid, who was in the room with the bride. She stood at the door and, just as the other bridesmaids did, was mean to the groom. When the groom entered the house, he brought with him a few Hongbao (red envelopes containing money) for the bridesmaids, in an attempt to win them over. The final bridesmaid told him that the Hongbao weren’t enough to let him in the room, further delaying him from seeing his bride.

Once he finally made it into the room, he offered the bride a bundle of flowers, kneeled before her and gave a small and emotional speech.

At the brides parents home, a traditional tea ceremony was held with the brides parents, her grandparents and of course the couple. A special soup was served to the couple, who fed the soup to each other which is meant to promote fertility and the prospect of many children.

Then it was time for the bride and groom to exit the house. The bride was not yet wearing shoes so she had to be carried outside by a relative. As she exited the door, the guests used crackers and confetti (in this case, red, heart-shaped confetti) to celebrate. Upon entering the car, her mother held her shoes and put them on her feet. This was the most emotional moment between the bride and her mother, as in China, the daughter was now leaving her family to join another family.

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Traditional way of carrying the bride

The couple and wedding party then journeyed to the couples home, which was filled with red decorations. Everything from the bedsheets to the stickers on the windows were red. Here, snacks were served and photos were shared while the couple held another tea ceremony, this time with the grooms parents. Before leaving to the wedding venue, the bride changed from her traditional garment to a simple white dress.

Once the wedding party arrived at the venue, photos were taken and the final rehearsals were done. The venue was simply decorated in pastel shades and had no signs of any traditional Chinese decorations. Before the ceremony started, the bride changed her dress to a more elaborate, white wedding dress. The couple then stood at the entrance of the venue to welcome their guests and received Hongbao which were then passed on to the bridesmaid for safekeeping until the wedding was over.

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Hongbao

In the hall where the ceremony took place, there was a stage in the middle of the room. The guests, half of which were Chinese and the other half were western, sat at round tables around the stage. The bride walked down the aisle with her father and took her place next to the groom on the stage where a friend stood beside them to officiate the wedding. There were no typical, western traditions during the ceremony, simply speeches to each other and to the guests. During the ceremony, the guests were served traditional Chinese food such as fish and fried rice.

Traditionally, the amount of money given in the Hongbao depends on how close to the bride or groom you are and can range from a few hundred RMB to a few thousand.

After the ceremony, the bride changed dresses once again, this time to a green number. She then joined the groom in thanking all of the guests for coming and both of their mothers read speeches they prepared for the couple.

The final dress of the night was a shade of traditional Chinese red. In this dress, the couple performed their first dance together and watched as the groomsmen surprised the groom with a  song where they had adapted the lyrics to suit the couple. More speeches were heard from friends of the couple and there were games for the guests. Adding a personal touch, photos from their childhoods and their time as a young couple were shared as well as photos and videos taken throughout the day.

To end the night, the wedding party, as well as quite a few of the foreign guests, celebrated with a night of KTV. The wedding ceremony was beautiful and emotional for both the couple and the guests who attended. It was a perfect blend of both cultures and it was great to see the incorporation of the Chinese traditions.