Monday, 29 July 2013

Chinese Wedding Planning Basics

Engaged? Congrats! Overwhelmed with the planning process? We've got you covered. Here, a quick run-through of ideas to inspire you, as well as a list of Chinese wedding traditions to keep in mind when planning your wedding day.

1) Determine Your Guest List
In order to make any other decisions, including your wedding date, you'll need to know how many people you're going to invite. Sit down with your fiance and make a list of everyone you want to attend your wedding (your fantasy guest list) then pare it down based on your needs. Whether it's a cozy affair for 50 or a large celebration for 200, determining your guest list first will help you focus on the rest of your wedding details. After you've chosen your guest list, choose your attendants -- that way, they can get started helping you plan.

2) Pick a Date
It is customary for a Chinese couple to consult a fortune-teller or feng shui expert to select an auspicious wedding date. Using the Chinese calendar, the date best suited for the couple is based on their birth dates and Chinese zodiac signs. It's considered good luck to marry on an even day and month of the year. Moreover, the time of the ceremony is traditionally scheduled on the half hour (because time is on the upswing). Nowadays, a consultant could be an uncle or a parent -- so long as the couple doesn't self-analyze (that's considered bad luck!).

3) Choose a Color Scheme
Choosing a theme really depends on your personal style and wedding season. Whether you want to have an all-out Chinese affair or infuse just a few details, color and motif are the perfect places to set the tone for your day. Be inspired by Chinese wedding colors: red (the color of happiness) and gold (the color of wealth) are not only traditional, but they make a beautiful combination when used throughout the wedding day details. And there's no reason you can't do a variation on these bright hues. Go burgundy for a formal evening affair. Or choose raspberry for a spring or summer fete. For a crisp, monochromatic look, choose varying shades of red, from burgundy to pink, to use in your bouquets, cake, and centerpieces. Not a fan of red? Do an all-gold-and-ivory scheme, for a level of sophistication and elegance that's hard to replicate.

4) Start a Paper Trail
For the couple with Chinese- and English-speaking guests, have your invitations printed in both languages. A Chinese printing press will often work with Western printers to produces multilingual stationery. 
5) Hire a Wedding Planner
If you want to have a Western ceremony, tea ceremony, and Chinese wedding banquet (not to mention other activities planned for international or out-of-state guests), you may want to consider hiring a wedding planner. A good coordinator will help you through all the steps, from etiquette questions to flowers and menu options. It may also be a good idea -- if not necessary -- to find a planner familiar with Chinese wedding traditions.

If you're up to the challenge of planning the day solo, you may still want to hire a day-of or on-site coordinator to help smoothly pull together all the day's events. Trust us, you don't want to have to worry about whether the favors made it to your reception site when you're about to get married! If you can't afford to hire a coordinator, ask a close friend or relative to help move the day along. Pick an organized person who wouldn't mind running around for you (perhaps someone who has offered to help already). Provide him or her with a timeline of events for the day to give you peace of mind.

What's Up Next? 
Now that you've set the ball rolling, you'll want to get started hiring your vendors and making detail decisions. Start with the elements most important to you. For picture-perfect memories, put your photographer near the top of your priority list. If you're planning a large banquet, get started scoping out venues and caterers. But first, take a deep breath, relax, and stop for a moment to envision the day you've always been dreaming of -- hao yun (good luck)! 好运!!!

Of course, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a wedding date. Work with your schedule, family, and personal style to determine what time of the year is appropriate for you. And if you do decide to consult the Chinese calendar, remember to include an explanation in your ceremony programs or save-the-dates.

 [ NOTE ] The period from the middle to the end of the seventh lunar month is considered inauspicious. Traditionally, that is the time of the Ghost Festival, when the gates of the underworld are opened and the lost spirits are allowed to wander the earth, making it a less desirable time for a wedding.

Your invitations can be personalized by your own style and wedding's season. For the modern couple, consider a bold foil-stamped dragon on the front of your invite packet, or a vibrant gold double happiness symbol cut out of the front with a bold red background. For a more understated yet elegant look, consider a light bamboo pattern printed as a silhouette at the bottom of your invites and save-the-dates. If you're marrying in the fall, stick with your theme. Choose a rust and olive color combination, but still include the double-happiness symbol next to an autumn leaf on the front of your invites. If sophisticated and classy is your game, then have your invites printed on thin cream-colored paper (think rice paper) and have them wrapped with a burgundy rice paper belly band and secured with a gold cord.

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