On Monday night, Kyle and I had the pleasure of attending our first Chinese wedding. But it wasn't an actual wedding, it was the post-wedding banquet. The wedding itself happened in two parts: the first in March, and the second earlier on Monday.

If I tried to explain the whole procession this would be a 2000 word post, which probably no one has time to read. So instead: an outline!

  • The dinner was an eight course meal for about 400 at a hotel. Eight is an auspicious number in Chinese culture. FYI.
  • The bride and groom arrived quietly during the cocktail hour (where there were no cocktails: coke, orange soda, and water).
  • There was a team of photographers and videographers, probably 4 or 5. All guests were photographed and their pictures were immediately included in a running slide show on two huge screens at dinner. Photos were also printed. Each guest got a wallet sized shot, and a print was included in a guest book on the spot that we signed.
  • When the ballroom doors were opened, we went inside and found our seats while the waitstaff stood at attention throughout the ballroom. Tables for 10 were arranged for a full Chinese dinner, complete with a large lazy susan in the middle of the table.
  • There were two emcees for the evening: one speaking English, one Chinese
  • We started with a standard music montage of photos of the bride and groom from childhood and then an animated retelling of their courtship.
  • Then the bride and groom were announced, they entered with two flower girls ahead of them and a smoke machine. She wore white, he wore a tux with Mandarin collar.
  • The couple cut the cake together on stage--a blue cake, I think, that was topped with a Precious Moments figurine--then disappeared. No one that we saw ate the cake, and we were served something else for dessert later. 
  • The waitstaff processed in to music, found their places, and served the whole ballroom in unison. It was sort of like that "Be Our Guest" scene in Beauty and the Beast.
  • After several courses, we watched a video detailing the wedding. The bride chose to separate her ROM and "actual" dates (auspicious dates chosen by a fung shui expert, I believe) so she had two full weddings, basically, plus a separate 12-hour photo shoot that included multiple outfits each.  
    • It started in March at the Registry of Marriage, or ROM, which was their first ceremony for family and friends and where they took their vows, exchanged rings, etc. The bride wore a rose, tea length gown; the groom wore a white suit with pink shirt and white tie. There was a small (compared to 400) ROM dinner afterward. After the ROM, they are officially married.
    • On Nov 9, the second ceremony took place. The day of the wedding involves the groom and his attendants being "hazed" by the bridesmaids before he is allowed to see the bride. This all happens through a closed door (remember our front doors have gates on them, so you can reach through) with the bride's attendants making the guys eat things and do stunts, etc. There is some bargaining before the groom can enter, the bride's attendants and the groom agree on a price, money changes hands, and the groom enters. There was professionally edited video of all of this. Once he enters her room, he sees her for the first time and kisses her. Then together they leave and go to his parents' to do the tea ceremony, then back to her parents' for another tea ceremony, then they're off until the wedding banquet with guests that night.
  • After the ceremony video, the bride and groom were announced again. She wore a black and turquoise ball gown. I think he was still wearing the tux.
  • They performed the "champagne popping ceremony" where they poured champagne into a pyramid of glasses. Then both of their families joined them on stage for the toast. It was in Chinese.
  • After the family toast, there was a third video prepared by the bridesmaids for the bride. It was also in Chinese.
  • The groom toasted first his grandmother, then his parents, then his "brothers" (his attendants) in English.
  • The bride toasted her parents and her "sisters" (her attendants) in English.
  • As we finished our dinner, the couple and their team of photographers went around the ballroom and took photos with every table.
  • As we left the ballroom after all eight courses, we thanked and were thanked by the bride's parents, the bride, groom, and the groom's parents (in that order). We were invited to speak on camera for the videographer, but declined.
  • As a wedding gift, we (and everyone else) gave an "ang pao" or red envelope which is a, um, red envelope filled with money. Ours had a Microsoft logo on it. (ang paos as marketing? I don't know.) $800 would be a particularly auspicious amount, but any even number will do. We should give at least as much as our dinner cost, and thankfully there's a website listing the cost of a table for every hotel in Singapore. We consulted that.
  • Since the wedding was on a Monday night, many guests came straight from work. Several were in jeans, but most were in party clothes. It's important not to be overdressed and show up the bride, groom, or their parents, but being under-dressed isn't a problem.
Ok, I think that's all the high points. Now for some pictures:

Kyle and his lab mates, including the bride.


The ballroom--wait staff at the ready--and the video screens.

The menu, showing seven of the eight courses. The last one was chilled mango puree with sago and pomelo.

The bride and groom on stage watching the video her friends made. She's wearing dress #2.

Our table at the beginning of dinner with our chopsticks, little white cups for jasmine tea, and the small bowls lined up on the turntable for soup, which was course #2. Though there were no cocktails, there was wine with dinner.