Attending a Wedding in China

Last week I was in Shunde (順德), China as a groomsman for my friend’s wedding! It was great to have a bunch of old friends from university back together in one place. The wedding was spectacular. It’s always such a humbling experience to be a part of something so special.

Shunde is a district in Foshan, Guangdong. The Guangdong province is HUGE, in all aspects. As an economy, it’s GDP is roughly the size of the Netherlands at about $815 billion US. The province has a population of over 100 million, over three times the size of Canada’s entire population. Crazy. When we think of China, we always think of the flashier cities like, Shanghai, Beijing. It’s really the second and third-tier cities and provinces that will be interesting to keep an eye on in the future.

I’ll end with three quick tips I learned that might help make your future Chinese wedding experiences smoother:

1. Check your shyness “at the door” for the wedding door games.

During a Chinese wedding, as a part of the bridesmaids and groomsmen tradition, you’ll usually be involved in some hilarious games the day of called the Wedding Door / Reception Games. The games are my favourite part of a Chinese wedding and symbolize the “winning over” of the bride on the wedding day. It also serves as excellent entertainment for all the guests. These games are usually made up by the bridesmaids and involve some sort of light sexual innuendo or embarrassing situation. It’s the duty of the groomsmen to man up and do anything required. One of the games we played was catching a piece of bread using two different people’s body parts written on cards that are selected at random. Let’s just say the body part combinations got pretty creative…

You can read more about the games with examples here.

2. Prepare yourself for copious amounts of drinking.

It’s no secret that Chinese people love to drink, and you can guarantee for a special occasion, the drinks will only increase. Exponentially. It’ll be a very difficult time for you if you can’t handle your liquor. As part of the groomsmen, it’s your job to keep the groom from getting too wasted from his various interactions with guests. You’ll be following him around, taking shots for him with random family members on their behalf. At the dinner reception, be prepared to toast every table of guests present. In our case, it was almost 70 tables. Needless to say, I was pretty gone by the end of it.

3. Bring an extra change of formal clothes if possible, especially if you’re in Southern China and the wedding’s in the summer. You will sweat buckets and things tend to get messy.

This is definitely a handy tip to stay presentable, especially for the random wedding games, hot weather and random spills from the happy, inebriated guests that you meet throughout the day. I’m pretty sure I was spilled on at least 20 times. Okay, so maybe ten of those spills were self-inflicted…


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