My first Chinese wedding

Is that title misleading? Ha! I will not be talking about my own wedding, as I have never been married! Today I want to talk about the first wedding I attended in China.

In November 2007 I attended a wedding in China for the first time. I didn’t even know the couple! The story went like this: back then we had a friend, a Bolivian-Chinese girl, who studied in our university. Her family was originally from Qingdao. Her cousin was to get married and my friend didn’t want to attend the wedding alone as it involved taking a 9 hour train. Her cousin told her she could bring some friends. That is how a couple from Qingdao ended up having in their wedding 7 foreigners they had never met before!


You may notice we are not very well dressed (except for my friend Eduardo, who was mistaken for the groom!). In China, guests don’t dress up for weddings.


The day started quite early, when we headed to the bride’s family home to witness the first tradition: the bribing of the friends and snatching of the bride! We were in the groom’s side so we accompanied him to the apartment’s door and then laughed while he banged the door begging for the bride’s friends to open. However for them to open he first needed to give them some hongbao (red envelopes with money inside), answer some embarrasing questions and yell “I love you, [bride’s name]” at the top of this lungs. After some more bribing and banging the girls finally opened the door. But the bride was not ready to leave! Her friends had hidden her shoes and the groom had to find them! After the search (and some more bribing for hints), the shoes were found and the couple could finally leave!

When the groom was finally allowed to get inside (notice the red envelope).

When the groom was finally allowed to get inside (notice the red envelope).

When we reached the door of the building compound there was a group of old ladies who proceeded to make a lot of noise, Chinese New Year style. There was even a lion dance! I think it was the first time I saw it.

Noisy ladies


Before the banquet


Then we walked to the restaurant, where there was even more lion dance!

During the banquet the bride changed his white wedding dress into a red dress. There were speeches, ganbeis, reverences to the parents and a little girl puking while standing in a chair (I got a laugh attack after I saw the waitress sweeping the vomit with a broom). There was even a karaoke! One old lady started to sing what has probably been the most off-key song I have ever heard, I have a video but I won’t torture you with it (unless you want to). One of the foreign girls sang a song in English and it was a great success!

And of course, we ate a lot. That is essential in a Chinese wedding!

This was the most entertaining Chinese wedding I have ever attended. In all the others there wasn’t bribing and snatching, lion dance and noisy ladies, or at least I wasn’t invited to those parts!

Have you ever been to a Chinese wedding? What did you think of it?