The Asian Wedding Reception

Perhaps some of you have been invited, and will be going, to an Asian wedding this summer …or in the near future.  It is a wonderful thing to have the blessing of experiencing different cultures, so I thought some of you might find it interesting to read about the differences in cultures as it applies to weddings.  Being as I was married in Japan and have provided services for many Asian style wedding receptions, passing along some of my observations might be helpful in preparing you for what you might expect at an Asian wedding reception.

The majority of Asian wedding receptions that I have had the pleasure of DJ-ing have been Chinese wedding receptions with more or less western nuances added.  In Asian weddings, showing respect for your parents and the guests is very important. Quite often, the bride and groom will have taken their wedding photos a week or more before the wedding day and reception. This gives them the ability to do an Asian custom of standing at the door of the reception room to greet the guests as they arrive. Sometimes, the couple will also be at the door as guests leave the reception after dinner to thank them for coming.

Food is also very important at Asian weddings, particularly at Chinese wedding receptions. There can be as many as 10 to 12 courses. In some cases, the waiters may carry the courses of food above their heads through the tables accompanied by traditional Chinese music and fanfare. This can be quite exciting with sparklers and lights.

The timing of speeches can also be quite different than in western wedding receptions. Because there are so many courses in the dinner, speeches often take place as each course is being served.  With the guests partaking in the food, drink and conversing with each other, I am not sure that anyone actually hears the speeches but it is interesting to experience.

For this DJ and I think for others not used to a Chinese style wedding reception, the custom of guests leaving right after dinner was quite an eye-opener. I remember the first time it happened where I was Dj-ing a mixed marriage between a Caucasian lady and an Asian man. Half the guests were from Alberta and half were Asian. The Caucasian guests were quite surprised and not sure what to do when at the conclusion of dinner; the Asian guests stood up and proceeded to leave. As the waiters quickly cleared the dishes, stripped the linen from the tables and rolled the tables through the reception room to be put away, the Caucasian guests from Alberta had a shocked look on their faces. It was quite a surprise.

In the case of Japanese weddings, there are about three changes of outfits for the married couple at the reception. On our recent tour of Japan, there were numerous displays of wedding attire at the hotels we stayed in. They normally had a whole department dedicated to this.

One hotel, in Hiroshima, had a chapel with the Christian cross for the wedding ceremony.  Although there are Christian Japanese, most Japanese religious beliefs are based on Shinto or Buddhism…or both. Probably the room sometimes does have meaning for a Christian Japanese couple, but for others, it is just a trendy style in the marriage process.

Japanese wedding receptions, when done in Japan, tend to be only about two or three hours long. It can be a jam-packed event with lights, karaoke, food, dress changes and entertainment… all within that two or so hours. The wedding reception can be in the day or in the evening. At the end of each wedding reception, the hotel then strips the tables and décor and is ready to go do another wedding reception within an hour, or less, of the first wedding reception. In this way, the hotel can have a number of wedding receptions in the same room on the same day. Of course, this time frame usually does not apply when Japanese Canadian weddings take place here in Canada.

One thing that was great fun at some of the Taiwan weddings where I have provided DJ services is the tendency to have the married couple, sometimes with the bridal party, perform for the guests. As a DJ who has experienced many weddings, I find this quite enjoyable. Take a look at the dance routine one Taiwanese couple performed for their guests where I had the honour of DJ-ing. Taiwanese performance.

Throughout the world weddings still are an important part of the circle of life. If you have the opportunity to attend an Asian wedding, I think you will find that it is a wonderful, enjoyable experience.