For some weird reason people end up to my page when they are searching for “Chinese wedding photographer”. Okay, I am not Chinese but an “ang moh”, except that is not exactly true either, as my hair is not red, and most of the time I have it shaved off anyway. I have not really understood how having Chinese ancestors would make you a better photographer. Of course having a Chinese background might get you language skills (I dont speak Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese or any other dialect) but then again, photography is pretty universal and on the actual day I dont really talk that much with my clients. The language might be an issue if I was shooting in People’s Republic of China, but not in Singapore or Europe.
Maybe this search has something to do with the chinese wedding ceremonies and traditions, I get asked about those quite often. The chinese wedding ceremonies are fairly standard fare, at least here in Singapore. Usually the wedding day starts very early, which is great because it’s quiet and weather is much better. Just make sure everyone has their transportation figured out as MRT and buses dont start their service very early.
I believe the first ceremonial bit would be the hair combing which takes place the night before the wedding day. The bride and groom would take a bath with pomelo or pomegranate tree leaves and change into a new set of clothing and shoes. There should be a “good fortune woman” to comb the brides hair and say the four blessings aloud. It really depends how traditional you are, but some would have a kind of sweet soup with rice balls after the combing. The brides mother would also give some jewellery or red packets to the daughter who is about to leave her childhood home.
Another big thing in the morning would be the gatecrashing. It is still very popular tradition, despite some might think that it is a bit childish in this day and age. Then again, it is also a chinese belief that you are not really an adult as long as you live in your childhood home. And generally you would live with your parents until you are married.
I’m all for having a big gatecrashing ceremony. And of course the photographer in me is happy when there is lot of action that I can shoot. The idea is that when the groom and groomsmen arrive at the bride’s home, they need to go through a series of challenges in order to enter the house. A real metal gate is often found in front of the door. The challenges can be almost anything, but usually they are a mix of physical, mental and eating tasks. I would go easy on the eating / drinking challenges, because you dont want to have the whole wedding timeline messed up because of a groom with an upset stomach.
Of course there are many other smaller and bigger traditions that are important at a chinese wedding, but I will write about them in another time.