I had dinner with an old friend last night, and a topic that came up was his upcoming wedding, and the chaos and turmoil that comes with the planning. My own wedding took place only a few years ago, so those experiences were still fresh in my mind, and we found that our wedding planning ordeals have a lot in common.

And at this point I realized something: If you’re Chinese, you can totally forget about your dream wedding because it will probably never happen.

You see, we now live in an age where most young girls that actually dream about their future weddings would base these dreams on the images they’ve seen in Hollywood movies. They want that beach front wedding that Katherine Heigl had in 27 Dresses, or a nice garden set up like the one in The Wedding Singer.

The beach-front wedding from 27 Dresses

It doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top, you know?  Our respective other halves just wanted a nice quiet and intimate affair, attended by close friends and relatives, where everyone has a good time.

But there’s one major obstacle that all Chinese couples face: their Chinese parents.

Chinese parents don’t like quiet weddings. They want a giant fucking banquet where they invite 400-700 people that you’ve probably never met before in your life.

All the fun and glamour of a traditional Chinese wedding

That includes that cousin of an aunt that lives in China, your dad’s kindergarten friends that he hasn’t met up with since kindergarten, and that random guy that might be related to your family because there can’t possibly be that many people named “Lee” in the world, right?

They want noise, they want strangers, they want ecologically-unfriendly and inhumane soups to be served, and they want a spectacle. In movie terms, they want the kind of wedding like the one in Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet.

And in Chinese culture, the wedding is not for the bridal couple; it’s an event meant for their parents to show off. So when it comes to the wedding planning, parents get to overrule their kids.

Maybe there might be a compromise if the bride grew up dreaming of a wedding spent with gossipy old Chinese women, sleazy Chinese men with comb-overs that leer at the bridesmaids, and every dish served comes with a face. But these days, that’s just highly unlikely.

Honestly, the best thing to do is to completely forget about your dream wedding. Just let your parents do whatever the hell they want, and invite every random person they want.

After that, you plan a post-wedding wedding, just for you and your friends. You can have it on the beach, or you can have it at the Universal Tour when Jaws pops out of the water. You can even wear a dress like the one Stephanie Seymour wore in the November Rain music video.

But this time, don’t invite the parents.

The iconic November Rain wedding dress

About Drew

I love my kids, my wife movies and video games (in no particular order). Sometimes my dog too, but he likes to stink up my pillow these days.

12 responses »

  1. Cara Olsen says:

    Oh, Drew . . . 😉

    I suppose, looking at the positive side, you could presume that if your parents weren’t proud of you and your bride, they would have wanted to keep the affair small, intimate, and quiet, letting as few people as possible know about it. That is the upside. The downside, of course is, your parents being proud of you and your bride and NOT wanting to kept the affair intimate, quiet, and small. I hope you two get YOUR dream wedding!

  2. Last year I went to the wedding of two Chinese friends of mine here in SF, and it was like a Steven Spielberg production. The reception hall was the size an airlpane hangar on the bay with an amazing view of the city, there were about a thousand guest (including more than one “sleazy Chinese men with comb-overs that leer at the bridesmaids” — awesome), nine food courses, and not a single drop of booze. The ‘happy’ couple were literally shaking from the pressure, but their parents were beaming with pride.

    • drewpan says:

      Oh man… I can totally relate to that shaking from pressure part. That’s exactly how we were. My blood pressure would’ve been off the charts that night! I had some friends fly in from out of town, but I hardly got to spend any time with them because I’m too busy shaking hands with complete strangers.

      That said, I’m told the after-party was an epic event… but my wife and I totally missed out cos we just collapsed.

      • I went to dinner with my friends about a month later and they said they were so stressed they don’t remember a thing about their big day. They said that they had to watch the videos and check out the pics to recall everything that happened. And then they were so beat that they both fell asleep on their honeymoon night.

  3. Addie says:

    Well, for someone who is not gonna get wed anytime soon I only care about what will be served at the reception..

    And the games. I heard Chinese weddings have the most fun wedding games.

    • drewpan says:

      The games are only fun if you’re not the ones getting married! Otherwise it’s like Fear Factor, but while wearing suits and dresses.

  4. meladjusted says:

    We were so lucky, our parents said, do you what you want it your wedding, invite your friends and a couple of family members that you like. Granted we paid for it too. Best thing was my Dad saying to my then future husband, “Just remember, it’s HER day!”

    The only thing that I feel really bombed out was the weather – we wanted a cozy winter wedding right on the Solstice and we got some freak heat wave at 28 degrees C and clear skies, which didn’t ruin the bonfire and stargazing aspect of it but our guests were a little too warmly dressed, *sigh* poxy weather gods, meteorology and astrology for me are almost the same thing.

    Our fellow countrymen the Xhosa’s and the Zulus have a solution for the Parent Wedding and Friend Wedding, they just a whole weeks worth of Wedding Festival: Parent Wedding, Friend Wedding, Traditional Wedding, Western Wedding, Colleague Wedding, Dream Wedding etc. It’s fun 🙂

    • drewpan says:

      So many weddings? That’s kinda daunting!

      Still, glad to hear you have such understanding parents! Hopefully as East/West cultures mix more, we’ll get some of that mentality!

      BTW, 28 degrees C is a cool day in Singapore hahahahaha! Imagine how I felt in my suit. I was just sweating and sweating away. Can’t have been good for the photos.

  5. I like your point that girls do not really have their dream wedding because they tend to think weddings need to reflect Hollywood celebrity weddings.

    • drewpan says:

      Hahaha I didn’t even want to go into those celebrity weddings because those are crazy! Movie weddings are over-idealized enough, but those massive weddings on Marlon Brando’s personal island and stuff are just ridiculous! With that kind of expenditure, you could buy out an African warlord and create peace in that country.

  6. […] It’s no wonder, then, that often your fiancee’s parents and the rest of the family will have a hand in some, if not most, of the planning of that Chinese wedding ceremony. John’s family sure did And the resulting ceremony often looks and feels something like this: […]

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