The invitation states a specific hour for the banquet but it usually starts 1-2 hours later. The bride and groom is busy greeting and posing for photos with each guest. The guest proceeds to sign their name in the guest book and drop off the red envelope. The most important custom at a Chinese Wedding is the red envelope "lai see." One of the bridesmaid decorated an adorable "wishing well" to house the red envelopes.
The head table is elevated with a view of the entire banquet, seated are the bride, groom, parents and immediate living elders. The banner displays the last name of the bride and groom and one cannot forget the double happiness symbol.
The cold appetizer consist of 5 items - jelly fish, bean curd, 5 spice beef shank, seaweed and pork slices.
The soup is served after the appetizer - shark fin with chicken or crab.
The first dish of the night was scallops and beef sauteed with celery and sweet peas.
The chicken [鸡] is served whole with the head because it represents togetherness and completeness. The chicken is steamed and served with a ground ginger and scallion condiment.
Honey Glazed Walnut Prawns [核桃虾] - Shrimp represents liveliness and walnuts are for happiness of the entire family.
The lobster [龍蝦] is also served whole, deep fried and then sauteed with ginger and scallions. The lobster represent the dragon, the groom. The bride is the phoenix.
The Peking Duck [鸭] is for fertility and my favorite. The duck's skin is separated from the meat and served with fluffy hot steamed buns.
The next dish is usually sea cucumber and/or abalone but at my cousin's wedding, she ordered a vegetarian rendintion. The vegetarian dish had enoki and white button mushroom with greens. Vegetables represents close family ties.
The baked red sea bass [魚] represents prosperity and served with mayonnaise dipping sauce is the restaurant's signature dish.
The last dish of the night was shrimp fried rice [虾饭], always served last but I'm usually too full or tipsy by that time.
The best part. The Cake.
The cake was from Cafe Madeline decorated in the bride's purple and yellow color scheme and theme "Meant to Bee." The cake topper was made out of fondant and so adorable I wanted to give it to my dolls. The five layer fondant cake had fresh strawberries and strawberry cream layered between yellow cake. I ate 3 slices alone. Don't judge.
Some banquets have squab, crab claws, noodles, dry scallop and egg white fried rice or Dungeness crab, it depends on the bride's budget and style; however, it will always be a 10 course meal.
Cute tidbit: My cousin rented a photo booth with unlimited pictures. Everyone went wild taking funny pictures with props including the bride's parents. There is nothing more amusing and fun then watching parents wear sequin berets, neon feather boas and over size sunglasses.
Click here to read about Chinese Wedding Customs and Traditions.