The wedding fun continues (Part 1, Part 2)! Today we will wrap up with a few odds and ends about the activities surrounding the wedding day and the wedding night, before we begin to look at marriage in China.
I realized this morning that I had almost forgotten an incredibly important part of getting married in China, wedding photos.The name is misleading; they aren’t pictures taken at the wedding, instead they are taken months in advance in clothes you don’t even own.
My wife and I experienced this joy/ordeal for ourselves last year in Chengdu. We opted for the cheapest package (I think 2-3,000rmb), which included 3 outfit changes, 2 indoor backdrops and 1 outdoor photo shoot. My Chinese friends have gone with more pricey packages that included a massive wardrobe and a lengthy road trip to a scenic spot (closer to 10,000rmb).
After taking literally hundreds of photos they airbrush you to the point that your friends barely recognize you. The end result is a collection of massive photo albums, a few posters, as well as the option to feature yourselves on a variety of knickknacks. Wedding photos are absolutely required for it to be considered a proper wedding. (an example of wedding photos)
In China it is also common for people to be married long before the actual wedding. Marriage in China simply refers to having all of your paper work completed, and since it is not usually connected to a religious ceremony, the paper work really is the most important part. One of my Chinese friends in Guangxi was married a full year before his weddings.
Nope, that’s not a typo, I really did mean weddings. Chinese people are often described as practical, and weddings are no exception. It is not uncommon for the bride and groom to hold 3 weddings to celebrate their marriage (One in his home town, one in her home town, and a third in the city where the live). These weddings are also held at the most convenient times for the family and friends, and so they are not always close together in time. Each wedding requires months of planning and years of savings.
This leads to another interesting change. It’s not such a big deal now for the bride to be pregnant at the wedding since they are already married (but if they weren’t married, it would be scandalous). The woman is still expected to be a virgin when she gets married, while men are encouraged to be “playboys” (their word choice, not mine). I was a bit surprised when I was talking with a Chinese co-worker just a week after his wedding and he told me that his wife was 3 months pregnant. In the US this would be a juicy bit of gossip, but in the city at least, it’s nothing to be ashamed of in China.
On the wedding night the bride and groom’s friends follow the new couple back to their home/hotel and harass them for hours, making them play a variety of embarrassing games. My Chinese friend explained that in one game the groom has a piece of string tied around his waist with a chopstick dangling from the other end of the string. The bride lies on the floor with an empty beer bottle between her legs. The objective is for the groom to carefully insert the chopstick into the bottle. I thought my wife was going to die when she heard this described, and was so thankful that we decided not to be married in China.
Once the couple finally kicks the friends out of the hotel, they will hang around outside making noise and generally trying to be a distraction. How romantic. Then married life begins, which is where we’ll pick up tomorrow.