Chinese wedding fun

There’s a long tradition of wedding games in China — many are designed to tease or embarrass the bride. In Lin Yutang‘s Moment in Peking, one bride is so well-educated and strong of character that she ends up embarrassing the people who were trying to tease her. Nowadays the games often have to do with trying to make the couple kiss. Not every wedding includes these kinds of games, but it can be fun when they do.

Friends took these photos (below) at a wedding we were part of last weekend. Chinese weddings involve a big banquet (å©šå®´). The couple goes around to each table, toasts everyone, and receives “red packets” (红包), which are fancy red envelopes with money inside from each guest. Our table decided they weren’t getting their hongbaos for free; they had to play a game first (pictured below). I think traditionally you’re supposed to tie an apple to the end of the string (“apple” sounds like “peace”), but we opted for a tiny candy instead. Captions are below each photo:

The bride uses a package of wedding candy (喜糖) to try and bribe the best man (I was the other groomsman) to give the hongbaos without making them play the game. He’s having none of it. The best man married an American girl last year.

bù mǎnyì, bù gěi qián
“(If we’re) not satisfied, (then we) won’t give the money!”

It took them a few tries, but they got it in the end (with a helpful shove in the back of the head from the best man’s wife).

After a full-on and packed-out Western-style church wedding with the white dress and suit and all that, James (the groom) and Jiā XÄ« (the bride) arrived at the banquet in Qing dynasty style traditional wedding clothes, complete with the giant red silk bow (大红绣球). I asked a couple Chinese friends what the bow was about and none of them could tell me, but they were emphatic that, “He has to wear that!” One of my co-workers later said it’s a word-play on “glorious future” (锦绣前程), since the name of the bow in Chinese and the idiom “glorious future” both have “绣“。

5 thoughts on “Chinese wedding fun”

  1. Cute story, Joel — and thanks for the pictures, which truly transport us right there.

    It reminds me of the wedding fun they tried our our ceremony in China. They also tried to tie things (turtle meat, then chocolates) to a string but I could them b/c I’m a vegan, which was kind of embarrassing. Then they just forced us to fish a chopstick out of a beer bottle. I was glad that ended the “games” for the evening!

    1. ha, no, but these photos made me realize the difference between a nice SLR (first three photos) and a 5-year-old pocket point-and-shoot (last photo), even in the hands of amateurs.

  2. Nice story! I’m chinese myself and married last year to a Dutch man, we chose not to do the banquet part, b/c of personal reasons. But I have organized several marriages including a banquet for chinese friends and one of the most popular games we played, was putting the bride on the ‘stage’, blindfold here and then let several people kiss her on the cheek and she has guess who is her groom! The fun part is of course to let her in on the secret and when one of the children kiss her, she calls out ‘yes, that’s my husband!’. It’s a nice twist around, instead of teasing the bride, you tease the groom!

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