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.