Weddings are one place you get to see the familial bonds. Any native culture finds its roots strong within the preparations and the processes of wedding. I had the fortunate chance of attending a wedding reception of a friend from work couple of days back.
After some research online, I found out that the Taiwanese wedding is usually of two main types. One with a more traditional setting. Where the customs and practices find their origin from Fujian, Guangdong and other places of Chinese mainland.
The other is a more modern settings. Many young Taiwanese choose by first registering their marriage at the local government office. Followed by arranging a wedding reception or a announcement ceremony. It typically involves depending on their choice of setting a lunch or dinner with friends and families from both the Groom and the Bride’s side. It is an occasion for sharing joy and happiness with near and dear ones.
The weddings in Taiwan are not arranged, in so far as I have been informed. However from what I have researched on the internet there are situations where arranged marriages do take place and the more traditional customs are followed. It involves few more steps. These are some of the customs have been preserved since the migration to Taiwan from China. Since I haven’t been to a traditional wedding, I can only post information collected from various sources… I only hope that in the future I get to participate in a traditional taiwanese wedding setting, and be able to document it first hand.
Some of the steps involved in the modern wedding ceremony come from the traditional customs. From what I have read, the weddings in the south of Taiwan are more traditional and there is a greater family influence on the wedding ceremony. The politics between families could end in breaking the engagement of a couple in love. However I feel this is the case for marriages in (very) rich families.
Just like in India, the wedding process in multi layered. Starting with the courtship, family approval process, bride’s engagement ceremony, groom’s engagement ceremony, wedding photography, groom’s wedding reception, and bride’s wedding reception.
I did not get a chance to witness the formal engagement and other process, if there was any. But talking to my friend about her wedding ceremony, I realized that at least the wedding photography is a very important and involved process. After hiring a pro photographer and careful planning on the choice of locations, settings and dress code, the couple spend around three to four days traveling and taking pictures at these locations. I have seen two wedding albums so far and I can tell you that these look no less than a photo-shoot for a magazine. They are very carefully arranged and chosen.
The wedding reception is either organized by the family or by the bride and the groom. My friend and her husband decided to share the expenses for the wedding reception. Usually when attending a wedding reception, as a foreigner I was not expected to get any presents. However in order to adhere to the local customs, I took a red envelope which is usual form of gift. A red-envelope contains money. Typically, an odd figure, like 100, 300, 500, 700, 900 or 1000 etc is not given as it is considered inauspicious.
The wedding reception was a luncheon, with a gathering of all the close & distant friends and relatives. At my friend’s wedding there were around 600 people. With people singing and dancing to the tunes of the Karaoke. I should mention that since the 1990s the Karaoke has become an integral part of the Taiwanese culture. It features in almost all of the modern celebrations in a family. At my friend’s reception, their uncles, aunts, friends everybody gladly took turns to sing to the rhythms of the Taiwanese pop. Although I could not follow the meaning of any of the songs, there was happiness which was shared by everyone at the reception.
The meal as in any typical Taiwanese lunch or dinner, is composed of 8 to 9 different dishes. They are usually brought in one after the other in big plates and pots. Being a vegetarian, I was arranged to sit with a group who were purely vegetarian. It was kind of delightful for me to see some vegetarians and share a meal with them. What was most surprising was that a friend of a groom was a also a vegetarian. A young man who did not drink and does not eat meat also. That was till date for me unheard of in Taiwan. The choice of food items for a vegetarian is usually very limited. It ranges from Boiled tofu with veggies to fried tofu with veggies, tofu soup to vegetable soup with lots of rice noodles and plain rice. Of course with a generous serving of soya sauce. However, I enjoyed the meal very much, which rounded off with a host of different fruits servings, which I gladly gobbled up.
An important part of the reception was when the bride and the groom come to each table to say hello and the people at the table offer a toast for a happy and successful marriage of the young couple. In the end after the lunch, the bride and the groom see off their friends and relatives and take pictures with them.
The entire reception process lasted for about 4 hours. It was a treat to be a part of such a get together. I wish the newly weds a very happy and successful marriage.
The bride and groom left together, perhaps embarking on their honeymoon, and to begin the rest of their lives together. But like many Taiwanese newlyweds, they will first live apart in separate cities because of their careers.