Most Chinese weddings have a master of ceremonies or emcee who guides guests through the wedding program. This emcee is usually loud and flamboyant (if you’ve ever seen a Chinese game show, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Some Western weddings ask a friend to serve as the emcee or ask the disc jockey (DJ) to announce key events. It would be helpful to have someone who is bilingual serve as the emcee or translate portions of the program.
The MC or DJ will kick off the evening with introductions. He might say something such as:
“Good evening ladies and gentleman. My name is John Smith and I have been asked by Kyle and Christine to serve as your emcee. They would like to thank you all for joining them today as they celebrate their marriage.”
The parents may decide to toast the guests since this is considered their party as much as it is the couple’s.
Then the best man and maid of honor each give short toasts that may include funny stories, advice, and kind words. Unlike Western wedding toasts, which can be embarrassing and contain insults, Chinese toasts are kept light and positive.
After 1-2 courses, the bride and groom make their way around the room with their attendants to toast each table. Everyone should stand and raise a glass of beer, wine, baijiu (rice liquor), or a non-alcoholic beverage. The bride and groom will thank their guests for coming. Then the guests will toast the couple and say, “ganbei”, which means “dry cup.” Guests will cheer loudly, clink their glasses with each other, and empty the cup in one gulp. As you can imagine, this tradition can get loud and rowdy. If the bride and groom get drunk, the attendants can drink in their place. It’s helpful to fill the glass water or apple cider instead of taking a shot with every table.
After the toasts are complete, the wedding attendants will arrange some funny wedding games that involve the bride and groom. Some examples include:
- The groom is blindfolded and the bride, bridesmaid, and mother of the groom kiss him on the cheek. The groom must guess which one is his new wife.
- The bride and groom stand back to back. They are given a sign that says “Husband” and a sign that says “Wife.” The emcee asks questions and the couple raises the sign they think most applies. One question might be, “Who will do most of the dishes?” “Who is the better athlete?”
- The most famous game is the egg game, during which a bride has to run a hard boiled egg through the groom’s pants, starting from one pant leg, up through the crotch area, and down the other leg.
Some couples feel the games are a necessary part of the entertainment and others find them to be cheesy. You can decide what your guests would most enjoy and what you have time for. Don’t forget you also have to squeeze in clothing changes, cake cutting, dancing, and a possible lion dance.
As the reception winds down, the parents, their families and the attendants will line up by the door, thank the guests, and the bride will pass out wedding favors. Once all the guests have departed, the wedding party can go home.