Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chinese Wedding Banquet - Symbols Behind the 10 Courses

I lost count how many times I've attended a Chinese Wedding, there is a familiarity I'm always anticipating - a crowd of people enough to fill a small theatre, speakers blasting Chinese karaoke, people clinking glasses of Remy shots and a 10 course meal.

Wedding - Always a bottle of Remy at the tableWedding - Wedding table setting and favors

Wedding - Wishing Well, aka where all the red envelopes goes
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.
Wedding - Head table, The wedding party last names
The cold appetizer consist of 5 items - jelly fish, bean curd, 5 spice beef shank, seaweed and pork slices.

Wedding - Cold Appetizer, jelly fish, bean curd, seaweed, soy beef, pork slices

Wedding - Chicken and shark fin soup

The soup is served after the appetizer - shark fin with chicken or crab.

There are 8 main courses because it is a lucky number.

The first dish of the night was scallops and beef sauteed with celery and sweet peas.

Wedding - Sauteed beef, scallops 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.

Wedding - Steamed chicken with ginger

Honey Glazed Walnut Prawns [核桃虾] - Shrimp represents liveliness and walnuts are for happiness of the entire family.

Wedding - Honey Walnut Prawns

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.

Wedding - Deep fried then Sauteed Lobster

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.

Wedding - Peking duck

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.

Wedding - Triple Mushrooms on Chinese Broccoli

The baked red sea bass [魚] represents prosperity and served with mayonnaise dipping sauce is the restaurant's signature dish.

Wedding - Baked Red Sea Bass

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.

Wedding - Shrimp fried rice

The best part. The Cake.

Wedding - Purple yellow bee theme 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.

Wedding - Purple yellow bee theme cake "meant to bee"

Wedding - Purple yellow bee theme cakeWedding - Strawberry cake

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.

Wedding - Purple yellow bee theme cake
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.


foodhoe said...

how cool, I have been to quite a few wedding banquets and love hearing the symbolism and customs involved! for some reason I only see the text and no pictures, will have to check back to see what the beautiful cake looks like!

Ravenous Couple said...

great informative post!

Lolia S said...

I never understood all the symbolism involved. Where was the banquet held? Totally cute cake.

Bonnibella said...

Lolia - The banquet was held at Canton Restaurant. Really famous for holding weddings.

Kung Food said...

Awesome post Bonni!! Ravenous Couple and I went to Gastronomyblog's Chinese banquet last night too :)

suki pooki said...

Nice post!!! Reminds me of my cousins wedding which was really quite similar! The funniest part was that she also had one of those cute photo booth machines to entertain the guests! The guests went wild lining up for the machines and making god-knows-what kind of faces for the photos and at the end of the night the bride and groom finally announced that they will have a copy of all the photos taken by the booth!!! Luckily I didn't do anything silly but I've always wanted to ask if there were some strange photos! hahaha

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