Chinese Wedding Timeline and Festive Traditions

Chinese wedding banquet

He has proposed and you are getting married!!! Are of Chinese descent or simply looking to incorporate Chinese wedding traditions into your wedding day? Then this article is for you. We have compiled a small sample of Chinese wedding traditions as well as an example timeline and menu…all ten courses!!

Chinese wedding days are incredible, with a host of traditions, dress changes, games, and banquet. One of the most common traditions is the Chinese Tea Ceremony.

Chinese Tea Ceremony

Often, both families will perform the hairdressing and capping rituals for the bride and groom. The groom will then travel to the bride’s house, where he will be blocked from entering by the bridesmaids. After a series of tasks, he is allowed to enter the home

Both families are formally introduced through the Tea Ceremony, and often the couple will receive ornate red envelopes (lai see) which may contain money or sometimes jewelry.

Chinese Wedding Dress

It is Chinese tradition for the bride to wear a red dress, known as a qipao. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes happiness, prosperity, and good luck. In modern weddings, the bride will often change into a white wedding dress for the ceremony. As the banquet progresses, there will often be another dress change, and on some occasions, a fourth dress at the end of ceremonies to send off their guests.

Chinese Wedding Banquet

This is a very lavish and usually expensive affair. Once the dinner begins, the bride will change into a traditional red Chinese wedding dress. Many foods are considered symbolic in Chinese culture, such as the whole fish which symbolizes abundance.

Chinese wedding cake
Chinese wedding cake

Chinese Wedding Timeline

5:00 am Makeup and Hairstylist Arrive
Bridesmaids arrive to Bride’s house
8:40 amFamily Members arrive
9:00 amGroom Arrives at Tea Ceremony
Ceremony venue opens for set up
Reception venue open for set up
Tea Ceremony (until 11 am)
Ceremony decor delivery/set-up
Photography coverage begins (13-hour duration)
11:00 amTea Ceremony Ends
Lunch delivery arrives
12:00 pmBridal party departure for the ceremony
12:45 pmBridal party arrival to Ceremony location
1:00 pmAll ceremony details set for guest arrival
Bride gets dressed
1:30 pmEarliest guest arrival
Start instrumental background music
Officiant arrives
1:55 pmLine up the bridal party
2:00 pmCeremony begins
2:30 pmCeremony ends
Group Photo & Family Photos
3:00 pmCouple Photos
5:00 pmBridal party arrival at Reception
All details set for cocktail hour/early guest arrival
5:30 pmCake Delivery
Cocktail hour
Cocktail hour music begins and then moves into dinner music
6:55 pmEmcee asks guests to be seated
7:00 pmReception begins
Welcome Speech and introduction of emcee
Bridal Party Entrance
7:05 pmNewlywed Entrance & First Dance
7:15 pmFirst Course Served; BBQ Platter
7:25 pmToast by the Maid of Honor
7:30 pmSecond Course: Deep-fried stuffed Crab claws
7:35 pmToast by Bridesmaid
7:45 pmThird Course: Bird’s Nest with Scallops
7:50 pmToast by the Best Man
8:00 pmFourth Course: Fish Maw Soup
8:15 pmFifth Course: Lobster with Cream sauce
8:20 pmGames: 1
8:30 pmSixth Course: Crispy Chicken
8:35 pmGames: 2
8:45 pmSeventh Course: Braised Abalone Chinese Mushroom
8:50 pmGames: 3
9:00 pmEighth Course: Steamed Tilapia
Bride to go change to Chinese dress
9:10 pmThank you by the Newlyweds (Bride changed to Chinese dress)
9:15 pmBridal party will make their rounds
Ninth Course: Yee Min
9:30 pmTenth Course: Fried Rice
Bride to change to an evening gown
9:35 pmCake cutting (Bride in evening gown)
9:45 pmOpen dance floor
9:50 pmBouquet Toss/ Garter toss
10:00 pmPhotography Coverage Finishes
10:15 pmDinner service ends
12:55 amLast Dance
1:00 amNewlywed send-off
Breakdown Begins

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