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Hong Kong Weddings

Customs & traditions of getting married in Hong Kong

Above: double happiness, a typical icon and Chinese character for weddings.

With Hong Kong being quite a westernized city yet still rich in Chinese customs & traditions, a Hong Kong wedding can range from the vary traditional to the almost totally westernized. But for most weddings, a mix of the two is probably most common. Here's a typical scenario and rundown. But please note that all comments and views are opinions of my own and do not reflect those of my family members ... nor their actions.

The Pick-Up

Chinese double-happiness red packet
Above: a typical red packet for weddings.
The festivities would often start with the groom and his 'brothers' (i.e. male siblings & close male friends) going to the bride's home to receive the bride on the day of the wedding - actually most likely to her parents' home even if she has moved out. But before he can get through the door, he needs to get past her 'sisters' first (i.e. female siblings & close female friends).

It's a tradition for the sisters to 'request' from him a red packet for good luck - with money within. How much money? They would start at an amount that makes any unsuspecting groom reconsider if he really wants to marry his betroved: $99,999,999! (Since the number 'nine' sounds the same as the word for 'long time' in Cantonese, it's considered as good luck and is used for happy occasions.) But of course, it's all a game. From there the two parties negotiate, with the 'brothers' helping the groom.

After the groom has duly paid, he is finally allowed through the gate. But more challenges await before he can lay eyes on his bride. And some could require uncommon valor. Fear not, however. That's what brothers are for!

The challenges involve performing tasks, answering questions, etc. - bascially anything that the sisters can think of to tease and have fun with the groom. Common tasks to perform include brushing teeth with wasabi (spicy Japanese mustard), doing push-ups, singing, etc. etc. The groom is often allowed to let his brothers substitute, but ultimately he has to do some to satisfy the sisters' thirst for blood - hopefully not literally.

When the groom and his brothers have faced up to the challenges, the bride, usually dressed in a white western wedding gown, would be allowed to be seen by him in all her glory - the product of a few hours of getting her makeup and hair done that started at the crack of dawn. Sometimes the makeover is so drastic that he may not even recognize her.

But the groom had not been idling either. Before coming for the pick-up, he and his party decorated the vehicles that would later be used for transporting the wedding party - especially the one for the bride and groom, which in the old days would have been a sedan chair, with red veils covering all sides. But nowadays it's been replaced by a nice automobile, either rented from the hotel or borrowed from a proud owner. Other cars are also prepared to be part of the transportation entourage to move the other relatives.

Sometimes the games are not over even after the bride is allowed to be seen. The bride herself, or even her mother, may join in the action to have a piece of the groom, like making him agree to a list of promises on how he would properly treat his wife. Giving her all his pay checks could be one on the list. That's when the fun and games could become more than just that.

After all the fun and games, it's time for the couple to get down to business. be continued
more to come...
Down to business - the tea ceremony
Church wedding
The banquet - more photos, the guests, the gifts, the food, the gowns, the appreciation round
The 'new room' fun

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