Getting Married in China: Combining the two cultures

International Marriage

Being in an international relationship is all about making compromises and respecting each others cultures. We wanted to honor our backgrounds on our wedding day,  complemented with our personal tastes. Having both Finnish and Chinese traditions on our big day will also hopefully make our family and guests feel comfortable and happy.

What we personally don’t like about modern Chinese weddings is that how it’s become an occasion to show off your family’s wealth. I don’t want rows of golden bracelets on my wrists or line of expensive cars for transport. Instead we want our wedding to be truly something we like, with some compromises to keep the family satisfied as well.

Our wedding day will begin with worshiping gods and ancestors. Then we will continue to the tea ceremony where we pour tea for our parents and other elders in the family. It is a custom to give golden jewelry to the bride at this point, but as a modern independent woman I wish that not to happen.

As this is an unique opportunity to show Finnish culture to our Chinese family, I want to bring something Finnish to the tea ceremony. My mother-in-law already agreed that we can use a teapot designed by Marimekko, something I fell in love with when I visited Finland this year. It will also be an amazing keepsake for us to use during our tens of years together in the future.

Our Chinese ceremony will end with a lunch banquet at a restaurant near our home. The food will be all Chinese, but perhaps I could find a way to bring something Finnish to the table as well in form of decoration or small gifts for example. I want the Chinese family to experience something new and to bring my own culture to the mix.

Of course at the same time it’s going to be very exciting for my own family to attend a Chinese wedding and see what kind of culture is affecting my life now and onwards. I will have one of my bridesmaids to help interpreting the ceremony for them so everyone knows what happens in each step.

The Finnish, or I should probably say Western, part of the wedding starts afternoon. We originally wanted to have a house party at the old family house, but the renovation might not be ready in time. After thinking of different options, I decided to book a 2-bedroom plus living room apartment at Ascott Guangzhou. I think it’s perfect for our small evening party because it’s beautiful, doesn’t really need decorating and is something totally different than what you usually see in Chinese or Finnish weddings.

At the party apartment we will have a buffet dinner prepared by the restaurant where we first met. We will also have a friend who will be making drinks and cocktails for our guests. Cutting the wedding cake is of course an important part of the Finnish wedding as well as dancing all night long. There will be other Finnish wedding customs as well, but I want to keep those secret for now.

During the party Alan’s family and friends have a chance to experience a totally different kind of wedding. At little sister’s wedding they did cut the cake, but no one ate it. The emotional first dance is also something new to the Chinese.

I wish that our wedding day will successfully combine the best parts of both cultures. I hope that after that day both families have a better understanding of the other culture and that this won’t be the last time for everyone to meet each other.

p.s. An article in a Chinese newspaper Information Times was published today about me and Alan. I hope to translate it to English as well.

  • Kaiser

    亚雪芳!我刚才看完了你的信息时报文章。生病时镇南为你做芬兰汤格外有爱心。我也很佩服你拒绝别人的建议不和镇南结婚因为他的家庭属于农村。可是我还鼓励你当中国公民。

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    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    记者采访我老公时我不在,后来看到他说的话让我非常感动。还好我没有听我朋友的建议,我老公还是最好的选择。

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  • Ellen

    雪方,Welcome to settle in Guangzhou. May you happy.

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    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you Ellen!

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  • H Gng

    Congratulations!!!

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    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you!

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  • Luis raccuglia

    Thank you for sharing your stories,i love reading them, I got married in China as well to a chinese girl I met in Melbourne Australia 4 years ago we been married now for 2 years, but my marriage in China was’nt as romantic as yours, it felt very rushed, lots of travelling from my wife town which is 3 hours drive from zhengzhou, first doing some paper work in Beijing then going back to my wife town which I cannot pronounced, then going to the Australian embassy in Shanghai doing more paper work and paying big money for my wife to come and live in Australia, then back to my wife town then going to zhengzhou to translate my marriage certificate from English to Chinese from there we took some photos to take to the marriage registry office and do more paperwork and that was that, later that night my wife says to me we are married now, and I was like (what) , no ceremony, no minister or priest to marry us, once we got to my wife town we took lots of photos at a photo studio with me wearing my suit and my wife wearing a couple of wedding dresses then the next day we had a reception at a restaurant , the hardest thing for me was there was no communication between my wife parents, brother sister and her aunties , uncles ,cousins, ect, my family couldn’t come from Australia, so I kept asking my wife who is that person or who are those ladies where are they from in China and so on, it was hard for me in a lot of ways getting married in China it wasn’t as easy as she kept saying to me, we are living in Melbourne Australia , but my wife hasn’t let go of all the facilities she had in her town, she’s always talking about how everything is better and easier to find in her town in China, anyway enough of me just keep writing your stories you can always learn from people’s experiences, all the best

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