san francisco wedding photographer | ngan + donald | traditionsApril 9, 2010

When Serena of Serena Grace Photography asked if I would assist her in San Francisco for Ngan and Donald’s wedding, I couldn’t have been more excited!  I don’t get to photography very many traditional Asian weddings, so I was really forward to this.  Here are a few traditions from the day!

Obtaining the Bride
In Chinese wedding tradition, it is customary for loud sounds to mark the start of the procession (and fend off evil spirits) from the groom’s house to the bride’s house.  The groom leads the procession with attendants with gifts would follow.


Bridesmaid Games
When the groom arrives at the bride’s house, the groom and groomsmen would be met by the bride’s friends, who would haggle with the groom and groomsmen. They would make him perform stunts or tricks, and not “surrender” their friend until they were satisfied with red envelopes.

The Ceremony
During the tea ceremony, the couple would serve tea to all family members and call them by their official title. Drinking the tea symbolized acceptance into the family.  Older family members introduced would give a red envelope to the bride and groom while the couple would be expected to give a red envelope to younger, unmarried couples.

The Nuptial Chamber
Immediately following the ceremony, the couple was led to the bridal chamber, where both would sit on the bed. Traditions will vary, but Ngan and Donald were given hard boiled eggs which symbolizes fertility.

The Banquet
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 bride will change into a traditional Chinese gown during dinner then the couple and their families will approach each table to toast the guests.

More photos of Ngan and Donald next week!



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  1. I LOVE ethnic weddings… I can’t wait to take snap shots of my brother’s Chinese ceremony/reception in Hong Kong this November! It will be very similar to this wedding. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful details!

  2. I just loved reading this. So informative and intriguing not to mention entertaining. Great work Alice! I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around again soon. All my very best to you.
    ~ Peter

  3. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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