Funny things I’ve learned about Boston Asian Weddings
- Here are a handful of quirks that I’ve picked up over the last 30+ years of being an Asian-American. Some I’ve picked up just from my family, and others I’ve picked up after photographing hundreds of Asian weddings and Asian Fusion weddings in Boston. It’s okay to be a little overwhelmed, especially because as modern times come into play for Asian Fusion Wedding Photography, some traditions are cut short or sometimes completely omitted. Every Boston Asian wedding is a little different!
- Timing – The Chinese wedding banquet invitation will say that it starts at 6pm, but it won’t really start until 7pm.
- Toisanese – Most of my Asian-American friends’ Cantonese grandparents speak this dialect. All of my grandparents have passed, and I don’t hear this dialect as much anymore, even though it’s what I grew up with. I miss it so much. I love hearing it, even though it sounds like coughing up a lougee.
- Karaoke – Most weddings end in some sort of karaoke, whether during/after the meal at the reception, or at the afterparty. Please invite me if there will be Backstreet Boys, NSync or Britney Spears.
- Uncle with a camera – There will always be at least one if not more uncle with a fancy camera, trying to do my job. That’s totally fine. I love them.
- Aunts and Uncles are numbered – The eldest aunt is #1 Aunt. The second oldest is #2 Aunt, and etc. It’s very logical if you think about it! Do they even have names? I have no clue.
- Mothers LOVE portraits – My team is extremely familiar with Asian mothers and their love for a zillion portraits.
- Families just know where to stand for portraits – Even though the portrait lists can be long, most Asian families just know where to go and where to stand. Maybe because they do it at every family gathering.
- “Have you eaten?” – I have learned to never eat to full capacity. You’ll be force fed. Always leave a little bit of space in your tummy so that you don’t insult anyone by not eating what they’re offering you.
- They’re not angry – No one’s angry. They’re not yelling either. It’s just how they/we sound.
- Embrace the chaos – It’s actually not even that chaotic. There are just a lot of people talking more loudly than some are used to. It’s kind of comforting, actually.
I’m a “Jook Sing”
- A “jook sing” or an ABC (American-born Chinese) are terms used to describe a Chinese-American. I’m Chinese by ethnicity and born in the US.
- We’re a team of Boston Asian Photographers and Boston Asian Videographers.
- Our team members speak varying levels of the Chinese language: Cantonese and Mandarin.
- We’ve lived it and have had our own Boston Asian Fusion weddings!
- We understand the culture and YOU!!
Boston Chinese Wedding Traditions
- Chinese Door games – The groom comes to the bride’s house to pick up his bride, except he’s met with her bridesmaids, who want him and his groomsmen to prove the groom’s eligibility and worth. The groom and his party must then perform a series of tests that the bridesmaids give to them. After every test, the groom gets a little closer to getting his bride. At the end, the bridesmaids typically demand cash from the groom and groomsmen.
- Chinese Tea Ceremony – Traditionally done prior to noon, and both at the groom’s parents house and the bride’s family house, this tradition is where the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents, serve them tea, and thank them. This sign of gratitude is often very emotional. If you’re having a video team, we love being able to capture the audio for tea ceremonies. There’s usually lots of “have lots of children and fast!”, “Oh, this tea is so sweet”, and “Wishing you a lifetime of health and prosperity” sayings in Chinese that are touching. I distinctly remember my grandfather telling me not to make fun of my husband too much. Our photo & video team prefer to work together, because in tight homes with dozens of people, it’s nice to be able to have a comfort level while being in each others’ personal bubbles. I’ve created a Wedding Timeline Guide. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see a sample timeline with a double tea ceremony!
- Roast Pig – Yes. The whole roast crunchy BBQ pig. Usually the whole roast suckling pig is ordered a week or two before. Most people in Boston order their whole roast pigs from Quic Pic BBQ. Just tell them how many people, or how heavy you want your pig to be, and when you’d like to pick it up!
- Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress – Red, gold, and more red and gold! Red symbolizes luck, wealth, and prosperity.
- Reception: Take a photo with the bride and groom! – Typically, Invitations will say that the reception starts at 6pm, but most of the time, formalities don’t kick off until 7pm. If you arrive between 6-7pm, you might be able to walk to the dance floor, say hello to the bride and groom, and take a photo with them!
- Reception: Sign the red silk scroll – Upon entering, there will be a table usually manned by the bridal party, where you can drop off your wedding card and gift and sign a red silk scroll with your name. Couples typically use this as a guest book!
- Gifts and Wedding Registry – Traditionally, Asian couples don’t head to Crate and Barrel and create a registry. Instead, it’s customary to include money (cold hard cash or a check) inside of a wedding card. If you’re fancy, you can put it in a little red envelope, called a “lai see”. In terms of amount it’s accepted to at least cover the amount of your own meal(s) and a little more.
Best Chinese wedding banquet venues in Boston
- Asian wedding venues in Boston can range from the largest Asian banquet Hall in Chinatown, or a smaller and perhaps more modern take on the traditional ten course family-style Asian meal. Being in Chinatown, no restaurant has dedicated parking, but there are plenty of parking garages. Most Chinatown restaurants will be able to help couples with parking vouchers. Here is a list of my favorite Asian wedding venue halls and Chinese wedding banquet venues in Boston.
- Empire Garden Restaurant – 690 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111. This restaurant has the largest capacity for Chinese wedding banquet venues. Empire Garden was previously a theater, with amazingly high ceilings and vintage decor. The majority of my family’s Chinatown large association events are here, and the space is set up for it. Empire Garden has an elevated seating area for VIPs, the band/DJ, integrated sound system (perfect for the inevitable karaoke), and a spacious permanent dance floor.
- Hei La Moon Restaurant – 88 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111. Hei La Moon is a multi-leveled restaurant – the ground floor as well as the basement. I’ve seen weddings done on either floor, both floors, and sometimes even one wedding on each floor.
- China Pearl Restaurant – 9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111. China Pearl is another multi-leveled restaurant. The second floor, or the third!
- New Golden Gate Seafood – 66 Beach St Boston, MA 02111
- Jade Garden – 18-20 Tyler St Boston, MA 02111
- Victoria Seafood – 1029 Commonwealth Ave Boston, MA 02215
Best Chinese wedding banquet venues in Quincy, MA
- Quincy, MA is my hometown. I grew up here. My family has lived here since the 70s. Now that we’re a 10 minutes south of the city, parking lots are more common and because the restaurants are newer, the decor is a little less old-school.
- China Pearl Restaurant – 237 Quincy Ave, Quincy, MA 02169. This restaurant is in the same plaza as Kam Man, and was considered the Chinese wedding banquet to be in outside of Chinatown. They’ve since done renovations, and the walls are no longer pepto-bismol pink. It looks quite nice!
- Ming Seafood Restaurant – 477 Hancock St Quincy, MA 02171. This is the newest of the bunch! I do think it looks the nicest on the inside. It’s in the same plaza as the new Ranch 99 restaurant.
- Chau Chow Restaurant – 699 Morrisey Blvd Dorchester, MA 02122. This one still looks old school. It’s a goodie though. I have many fold memories of dim sum here.
- South Garden – 217B Quincy Ave Quincy, MA 02269, This is a much smaller restaurant, but our favorite in terms of good ol’ Cantonese food. Most of the weddings I’ve photographed here have been no more than 50-60 people.
Best Chinese wedding banquets in Malden and Watertown
- Kowloon – 948 Broadway Saugus, MA 01906
- Ming Seafood Restaurant – 9 Pleasant St Malden, MA 02148
- Joyful Garden – 550 Arsenal St Watertown, MA 02472
Ready to plan your Boston Asian wedding? Let’s go!
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