Funny things I’ve learned about the Boston Asian Wedding scene
I’m a “Jook Sing”.
A “jook sing” is also known as an ABC or American-born Chinese. I’m first generation, born to Hong Kong immigrants. Lots of older people like to make fun of “jook sings”. Our team members on our Boston wedding photographer team speak varying levels of Cantonese and Mandarin.
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 being a Boston asian wedding photographer.
The invitation will say that it starts at 6pm for the Boston asian wedding banquet, but it won’t really start until 7pm. You also won’t be fed your 10 course mea until then, so if you’re an early bird dinner person, eat a snack.
Most of my Asian-American friends’ 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.
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 million portraits. The best wedding photographers will be able to appease even the craziest mother!
“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.
The best wedding photographers will be able to embrace multicultural weddings for all of their quirks and chaos.
Boston Chinese Wedding Traditions
The groom comes to the bride’s house to pick up his bride for the Boston asian wedding, 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 ladies 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. Click here for a blog I’ve written about my favorite Chinese Wedding Door Games.
Chinese Tea Ceremony
Traditionally done prior to noon and after the makeup artist has finished with the bride, and both at the groom’s parents house and the bride’s family house, this tradition is where the couple 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’ve created a Wedding Timeline Guide for your Boston asian weddings. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see a sample timeline with a double tea ceremony!
Chinese weddings love 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.
Take a photo with the couple at the reception
Typically, Invitations for a Boston asian wedding 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 couple, and take a photo with them!
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!
Asian couples don’t head to Crate and Barrel to create a registry for their Boston asian wedding. 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 Boston Chinese wedding banquet venues
Asian wedding venues for your Boston asian wedding in downtown 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.
Here is a list of my favorite Chinese wedding banquet venues in Boston. Many of them are dim sum restaurants.
- Empire Garden – 690 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111. This restaurant has the largest capacity for Chinese wedding banquet venues.
- Hei La Moon – 88 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111.
- China Pearl Restaurant – 9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111.
- 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
- China Pearl – 237 Quincy Ave, Quincy, MA 02169.
- Ming Seafood – 477 Hancock St Quincy, MA 02171.
- Chau Chow Restaurant- 699 Morrisey Blvd Dorchester, MA 02122.
- South Garden – 217B Quincy Ave Quincy, MA 02269
- Kowloon – 948 Broadway Saugus, MA 01906
- Ming Seafood – 9 Pleasant St Malden, MA 02148
- Joyful Garden – 550 Arsenal St Watertown, MA 02472
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should wedding guests park for Chinese wedding banquets in Chinatown?
No restaurant in Chinatown has dedicated parking, but there are plenty of parking garages. Most Chinatown restaurants will be able to help couples with parking vouchers.
Who are some of your favorite wedding vendors?
Jenny Luu and Yin Tom Studio are very talented makeup artists that both do hair and makeup. Linda of Lemon Drop team is one of the best wedding planners and day of coordinators. They’re all Asian American wedding vendors and just amazing people. Be sure to check out their work on their websites. Tell them I sent you!
Do I really need wedding planners?
Hiring wedding planners will make the day go smoother because wedding planners will provide some buffer room between you and the nitty gritty logistics. Capable wedding planners and coordinators who understand Asian-American weddings are worth their weight in gold.
Wedding planners can also help with setting up your decor, making sure that hair and makeup timelines run well, and give you tips about other vendors in the Boston area.
What hair and makeup is best for Chinese American weddings?
As a wedding photographer, I’d defer most makeup and hair advice to the makeup and hair professionals. Don’t have a licensed cosmetologist on speed dial? That’s okay. Some prefer natural makeup, while others prefer a bit more dramatic.
I’ve seen everything from hair up, hair down, hair half up and half down, hair curled, hair straight, hair wavy, and even hairstyle changes throughout the day! Some prefer modern, while others prefer traditional and a classic style.
Should I get my hair highlighted or a hair balayage for my Boston wedding?
Some makeup and hair stylists that adding in color to dark hair adds dimension. I say do what feels right for each person! I always want my clients to look and feel like themselves.
What should I look for in a Boston Asian makeup artist in New England?
Many asian women have monolids. I’d suggest finding a makeup artist that can show previous work on monolid eyes. Ideally, find makeup artists that will offer a makeup trial for their clients so that you can see what your makeup will look like prior to the wedding day.
You may also be able to get some skincare tips and tricks, as well as pick up some great makeup techniques and makeup products for your face!
It’s not every day that you get professional makeup done, so enjoy it and have fun!
Ready to plan your Boston Asian wedding?
Recent Boston Asian Wedding Blogs