Tag Archives: door games

Chinese Weddings and Traditions

Happy New Year!
It honor of Chinese New Year, I wanted to write a post about traditional chinese weddings. The Chinese culture is a very respectful and customary culture where most of the Chinese in America still follow some of the traditions one way or another. Getting married is a very important occasion in any culture, but for the bride, it is a passage for the parents of the bride to give away their daughter and for the bride to gain acceptance into the groom’s family.

Dowry
In China, it is common for the groom to present gifts or money to the parents of the bride as confirmation of the formal arrangement of marriage. A marriage is considered a joining of two families in Chinese culture and before the wedding day it is common for the parents of both bride and groom to meet and exchange gifts. The groom’s parents also give the family members of the bride, “loh paw bengs”, chinese pastries that literally translate to “wife cookies”.

Auspicious Day
To set the date of the marriage, an auspicious day is usually preferred and required. The lucky day is chosen with Fung Shui and the lunar calendar. The bride and the groom’s chinese zodiac symbols are used with the ancient secret theory of Former Heaven Sixty-four Square Chart. Using the combinations mentioned with Heaven Qi and Earth Qi patterns, it creates an element number and period number to calculate the  best days that are good for the specific bride and groom. The same auspicious day for one couple may not be lucky for another couple or even with another mate. Most bride and groom’s still follow this type of tradition in China, but I think for Chinese Americans or 2nd or 3rd generations Chinese, it is not as important as the location and time of year.

Lucky Color Red
The color red is also very important as red is considered a lucky color as well as signifying love, prosperity and happiness. Ideally, everything such as the wedding invitations, envelopes, and wedding dress is usually in red and include the double happiness character. In recent days, however, almost any color is fine now for everything. For the wedding dress, it is very common to have the traditional western white wedding gown and veil for the wedding ceremony while also wearing several other outfits for the banquet. It is very common for Chinese brides to switch into different dresses throughout the banquet. The second dress is usually a traditional red Chinese wedding dress called the “Churn Sam” or “Kay Po” for the banquet. A third dress is meant for the going away dress for when the bride and groom thank everyone at the exit for coming to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Bridal Bed
The night before the wedding, the future bride and groom’s bed should be new along with new or red pillows, comforters and sheets. Young kids are also brought to the room to jump up and down on the bed to give good fertility fortune. Boys are usually preferred so that the couple will produce a son.

Door Games and Bridal Pickup
The big day usually starts bright and early with the picking up of the bride. Once the bride and groom and bridal party are all made up and ready, the groom and groomsmen head to the house of the bride to pickup the bride. In order for the pickup to occur, this is where the fun begins for the bridesmaids. For the groom and groomsmen to be allowed to enter, they have to go through a series of task or games that the bridesmaids have chosen in advance. These door games can vary from reciting poems, singing songs, answering questions, eating weird food, embarassing tasks, physical tasks, and lastly, a lucky red envelope that gets negotiated between the two parties.

Tea Ceremony
One of the very important aspects of a chinese wedding is the tea ceremony. This usually takes place on the wedding day after the door games although doing it on the day before is also common. The tea ceremony is a sign of respect for the elders when the couple serves tea to the family and relatives of both parents. In return, the relatives present the couple with jewelry and red envelopes.

Wedding Car
When the bride and groom are ready to head to the wedding ceremony, they head to the wedding car which is usually decorated with ribbons and flowers along with a miniature bride and groom figurine or plush in the front.  An umbrella is usually held over the bride’s head meaning “raise the bark, spread the leaves” which is suppose to protect the bride from evil spirits while relatives throw rice on her.

Banquet
The best part of the Banquet is usually the twelve course meal that gets served as only the best and fancy items should be served. Shark Fin Soup, Abalone, Roasted Pig, chicken, fish, and lobster are customary default items along with other dishes that have happy and lucky meanings. More games are usually played throughout the meal to keep the event interesting on the bride and groom. An emcee usually directs the evening along with speeches and the games.

Everything I have mentioned are the typical ideal and traditional events and traditions that take place for a Chinese Wedding. Most weddings in China and Hong Kong follow these traditions in some form or another. In Hong Kong, western style weddings are also common now for couples who just want a simple City Hall Registration and dinner. In America, from my experience at least, the amount of traditions followed at Chinese weddings can vary significantly depending on what the bride and groom choose to participate in or in some instances, what the parents of the bride and groom require. Most 2nd or 3rd generation Chinese weddings in america only have certain aspects mentioned above mixed in with a western style wedding.  For inter-racial weddings, the Chinese bride or groom usually includes some of the tradition as a sign of respect for the chinese heritage and culture. Hopefully, attendees of Chinese weddings can find this entry useful as well as for Chinese wedding planners that may need suggestions on how to plan their wedding day.

Cynthia and Henry Wedding at St Marys Church and Dynasty Restaurant

For this wedding, I had the pleasure of second shooting with the world renowned Gene Higa. Gene is one of the top photographers in the world that I highly look up to and that made capturing this wedding an awesome experience for me. The day started out with the traditional chinese door games and tea ceremony which is always a great start to the day. We also got some beautiful photos at Stanford where it felt like wedding central with a ton of bridal parties there for portraits. I look forward to hopefully working with Gene again soon!

One of my favorite shots of the day.
Cynthia and Henry Wedding at St Marys Church

Gene putting the boutonniere on the groom

groom and the groomsmen and gene higa

The first challenge was to take turns following some yoga poses

another yoga pose for the traditional chinese bridal party game

The goal of this challenge was to empty the box full of balls by shaking them out.

The bridesmaids always get a kick out of the chinese door games!

The groomsmen help the groom serenade the bride.

The bride is enjoying the serenade.

The bridesmaids collect the lucky money envelope from the groomsmen and find a battery!

newleywed portraits at stanford church

bridal party walk stanford palo alto

Their photobooth was a big hit and had long lines the whole evening!

bride listening to the speeches

cake cutting toast dynasty restaurant second shooting with gene higa cupertino

Paula and Thuan’s Wedding at the Ruby Hill Golf Club

Paula and Thuan were referral by her maid of honor whom I have known for a very long time.  I got to know Paula and Thuan pretty well from their engagement session last year.  They were a pleasure to shoot with because they are a fun and easy going couple.  The day started with a Chinese tradition where the groom goes to pick up the bride.  The chinese wedding door games consist of the bridesmaids giving the groom and his groomsmen challenges to complete to earn entry into the house to see his bride.  A tea ceremony follows where the bride and groom offers tea to the more senior relatives.  After the tea ceremony we made our way to Legion of Honor for bridal party photos.  In traditional San Francisco fashion, it was overcast and cold but the bridal party remained in high spirits ad we still managed to capture some great shots.

The ceremony and reception was at Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton. This is a gorgeous venue with the rolling hills of the golf course in the backdrop.  The weather was beautiful with clear blue and warm temperature.  The ceremony was special as Paula and Thuan personalized it by including their dog Gizmo and writing their own vows.  We finished off the night with a twilight shot where we were able to capture some intimate moments between the newlyweds.

legion of honor san francisco bridal party wedding

legion of honor bridal party wedding shots san francisco

Simpson’s shot

Simpson’s shot

chinese wedding games for groom and groomsmen

traditional chinese tea ceremony chinese wedding

Skittles and egg rolls make for an awesome lunch!

Not exactly sure what kind of pose she is doing but it looks cool!

ruby hill pleasanton golf course wedding ceremony

ruby hill ceremony pleasanton california golf course