photo montage

Wedding reception

A wedding reception is a party held after the completion of a marriage ceremony. A post-marriage party is usual in most societies and can last anywhere from half an hour to many hours.

Western society

Meal

Most receptions feature a meal, usually either a plated dinner or buffet dinner. Some couples host an hors d’œuvre reception or a dessert reception.

In the Eastern and Northern US, plated dinners are more popular. In the South, buffets are more popular.

Toasts

In most Western countries, before or after a meal (traditionally paid for by the bride's family, though rarer now), toasts are made by the wedding party wishing the couple well. Traditionally, the speaking parties include the bride's father, groom, the best man (who usually slips in a few good-natured jokes at the couple's expense) and the maid of honor.

Dances

After the speeches, the bride and groom begin their first dance, which used to be called the "bridal waltz"; in most contemporary weddings a romantic song is played (common choices include songs by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Etta James, Dean Martin, Barry White, and other standard singers) and the bride and groom's dance is rarely a waltz. Different dance styles are now used, depending on the nature of the song. Foxtrot, two-step, or rumba matches most four count pop ballads.

The wedding reception dance party may involve a certain sequence of special dances. For example, after the first dance, the groom may escort his bride to her father for a special father/daughter dance.

Following the special dances, the guests are invited to join in the dancing. The party continues with toasts and celebrations until the bride and groom leave in a car decorated by the couple's friends.

A trend is the addition of a DVD slideshow or photo montage video featuring pictures of the bride and groom growing up and meeting. These are created using home movies and photos taken over the couple's life, edited and set to music. The montage is shown either on a large TV or monitor, or an LCD projector.

Wedding cake

Typically, a cake from a professional baker is displayed until after dinner. After a short while of dancing, the couple cuts the cake and then feeds a bite of cake to one another (often with the fingers). After this, the cake is cut for the guests. This cake is typically at least two tiers, often more. Some couples have a smaller, formal, display cake, which is supplemented by sheet cake.

Expense

The cost of a wedding in the United States, as of 2007, averages $28,000. This is twice the cost of a wedding in 1990. The wedding industry nets $161 billion dollars yearly, according to Rebecca Mead, author of "One Perfect Day."

Other traditions

Wedding traditions vary between countries, and between regions of the same country. Some traditions include:

  • Money dance or dollar dance. Guests pay a small amount of money to dance with the bride or groom. In some cultures, the money is pinned to a special apron worn by the bride or groom. In others, the money is collected by friends, who sometimes give a shot of alcohol to each guest as they pay. This tradition is common in the U.S. Midwest.
  • Tossing of the bride's bouquet and garter. The bride tosses her bouquet over her shoulder to a group of all the single women present. Whoever catches it is supposed to be the next to get married. Similarly, the groom tosses the bride's garter to the single men, often after removing it from her leg. On occasion, the bride will "rig" the bouquet toss by tossing the bouquet to a woman who is engaged. The groom then arranges for the fiancé of the bouquet toss winner to receive the bride's garter. Sometimes the man who catches the garter is supposed to put it on the leg of the woman who catches the bouquet or the garter is sold in a raffle instead of being tossed.
  • Clinking of the glasses. Guests will often clink their glasses during dinner to ask the newlyweds to stand up and kiss. Some couples pass out wedding favor bells for guests to ring instead of clinking glasses.
  • Favors. The hosts typically provide a small gift for each guest. Favors may include chocolates, candles, soups and picture frames.

Chinese society

In Chinese society, the wedding reception is known as xǐ-jǐu (喜酒, literally joyful wine), and is far more important than the wedding itself which tends to be a brief civil ceremony. The timing and the characteristics of the reception vary strongly from locale to locale. They are often extremely elaborate and expensive, often costing several years' salary of the groom's family. However, because cash in the form of red envelopes and jewelry (particularly gold) are given as wedding presents, and because the wedding hosts keep very careful track of the cost of the gifts (jewelry is given with a receipt which indicates the actual cost of the gift), the cost of the reception is effectively split among the wedding guests. Wedding receptions also build solidarity in the local community. As each couple weds, their wedding reception is effectively financed by gifts from the other members of the community, with the expectation that the new couple and their family will give gifts in future wedding receptions within the village.

Chinese wedding receptions

This includes the Chinese in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Ladies dress

Red/pink/crimson/firebrick/magenta/maroon/tomato are safe. No black or white or navy blue.

Timing

There are two times listed on the invitation: 恭候 (greeting) and 入席 (reception). Typically, they are at least two hours apart from each other (some maybe four hours). The first one means the time groom and bride along with their family will be ready to receive guests and greet them. The second one means the time the reception/banquet will start. The gap between those hours is referred to as entertainment time. Very often the restaurant will provide poker and májiàng (麻將) http://www.majiang.net/ for gambling. The time can also be used to socialize with other guests and take photos with the bride/groom and their families. Nowadays in the U.S.A., it is less likely to see májiàng being played before the banquet and it is often replaced by a cocktail party. However, if the wedding reception takes place in southern China, Hong Kong, Macau, and even Canada, where there is a large Cantonese population, májiàng might still be played before the dinner.

Sign in

Two people will be at the sign-in table (one from the bride’s family and one from the groom’s family) to register guests and receive gifts/red envelopes. Often they will have two separate guest lists (one from the groom’s side and one from the bride’s side). Then the best-man and the maid of honor will direct ushers to escort guests to their seat.

Banquet Procedure:

Typically the banquet will include a speech from the parents, the best man and the maid of honor and the guest speaker. There will be cake cutting, toasts, tea ceremony http://www.chcp.org/wed2.html, some games designed by the DJ, and dancing. The two tables at the center of the room are for the groom’s and bride’s families.

Food:

A Chinese wedding reception typically has nine or ten courses. Expensive dishes such as Shark fin, abalone, lobster, jumbo shrimp, squab, sea bass, or sea cucumber, are common on a wedding banquet menu. The average cost of higher-end menus range from USD$1,000 to USD $1,600 per table. http://www.chcp.org/banquet.html

Some westerners may not feel comfortable seeing dishes with a fish head, chicken head or pig head. However, a whole fish, chicken or pig means luck and completeness in Chinese wedding culture.

Traditionally, after the fifth dish of the dinner, the groom and bride and their families will approach each table to toast the guests. If the groom or the bride cannot drink, it is the best man, bride’s maid or usher group’s responsibility to drink for them. Very often, the bride will change into a traditional Chinese red wedding dress (鳳褂 or qí páo) at that time.

Guests are welcome to take leftovers home. Taking home remaining food indicates appreciation of the groom and bride’s choice of food.

About twenty minutes after the tenth (last) dish is served, the groom and bride along with their families will line up at the entrance/exit to bid the guests farewell and thank them for coming. It is not polite to leave before the last dish is served.

Gifts

Unless the newly wed has a wedding registry, it is best not to give gift or gift certificate. For Chinese weddings, cash or check is always the best gift. In addition to that, some elder relatives might also give gold jewelry. The cash or check should be in a Red envelope or red pocket with your names on it. It is always given when signing in at the restaurant. Avoid any combination with the number '4', it is an unlucky number. Never use a white envelope to wrap cash or check for a wedding.

References

Chinese Wedding Customs http://www.chinese-poems.com/wedcus.html

Chinese Wedding Foods http://www.chcp.org/banquet.html

Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony http://www.chcp.org/wed2.html

Frequent Asked Questions from Guests attending a Chinese Wedding http://www.chinabridal.com/etiquette/gfaq.htm

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