A tradition in Chinese communities around the world, door games truly make for some of the most entertaining parts of the wedding day. They are essentially a series of challenges set up by bridesmaids that the groom and his groomsmen have to overcome in order for the man of the hour to be allowed to take the bride’s hand in marriage.
Not sure where to get started — or feeling stuck on wedding door game ideas? Check out our handy guide and the best door game suggestions.
Where did wedding door games come from?
With origins in folk customs in ancient China, the games typically take place at the bride’s home, where she is to be picked up by the groom and his groomsmen on the morning of the wedding day.
They are variously known as 玩新郎, or “playing the groom”, in Cantonese; 接親遊戲, or “games with which to receive the groom”, in Mandarin; heng dai games, or “brother games”, in Malaysia (which refers to the fact that groomsmen are known as “brothers” in Chinese); and “wedding gatecrash” in Singapore.
Over time, the games have evolved into a light-hearted, fun way to start the wedding day, usually with the bride and sometimes groom’s immediate families (parents and siblings) on the sidelines.
Who participates in the door games?
Bridesmaids typically come up with a series of door games and conduct them. The groom is the main target, though many games call for groomsmen’s help. The bride usually awaits in a separate room while these door games take place, and will only appear once all challenges have been completed.
What do I have to do?
Lots of wedding door games involve challenging the groom to do something completely out of his comfort zone — strenuous physical exercise, consumption of unusual foods, and sometimes even interactions with strangers.
As a bridesmaid, consult the bride for her advice on his likes and dislikes, which will make it easier (and more fun) to come up with a list of games.
The groom and groomsmen should arrive armed with lai see for the bridesmaids. This is the very first step of the wedding door games — you are to give these to them as a “bribe” before you can be let in (see more below).
Stuck on wedding door game ideas?
No money, no honey
The “bride price” is how much the groom is willing to pay the bridesmaids in lai see before he is allowed in the home.
Amounts vary, though they could end with lucky numbers in Chinese culture: eight, considered auspicious generally; or nine, which rhymes with “longevity”. HK$888 or HK$999 (for the bridesmaids as a group) are considered fair amounts.
There will typically be a negotiation process involved with the bridesmaids, so bring some spare cash!
Rock with you
Line the entryway to the home with a series of pebble rock mats, which the groom has to walk through barefooted.
Designed for reflexology massages, these mats are not for the faint of heart. If you want to take the game to the next level, dictate the groomsmen to carry the groom through the door while walking on these mats.
Hide lai see packets near the entrance to the home. The groom and the groomsmen have to find them before being allowed to enter.
Inside the lai see packets, you can put notes that say the names of the couples.
Spice of life
Challenge the groom to drink four concoctions made with condiments and ingredients, with the following flavours: sweet, sour, bitter, spicy.
These signify the “four flavours of life”, a belief in Chinese culture, and symbolise what the couple promises to support each other through for the rest of their lives.
Some ideas for these concoctions: white vinegar, sugar syrup, Chinese medicinal soups (ready-to-drink mixes are available at some convenient stores), and Tabasco or diluted Sriracha.
Wish me luck
Direct the groom and the groomsmen to find around a dozen strangers outside the home to sign a note in support the marriage in a set time period. The bridesmaids will monitor the process to ensure no cheating occurs.
Alternatively, the groom has to find a dozen people willing to wish him luck to take a selfie with. He will then upload these photos to Instagram in a slideshow with a designated hashtag for the wedding.
Pass the seaweed
This is, for better or for worse, one of the most popular wedding door games in Hong Kong. The groom and the groomsmen will line up and pass a piece of seaweed between them — but only with their lips.
Shop for the salted variety of seaweed snack (rather than the sushi-making kind), available in most supermarkets. They have more “grip”. Or don’t, if you want to see them fail!
How do I love thee?
The groom is to list eight or nine reasons (for luck, see above) why he loves the bride in under 3 minutes. The groomsmen have to do push-ups until he is able to complete this list.
Alternatively, the groom has to list ten promises he will keep throughout the marriage. Get your cameras ready for the pushup part!
Here’s a twist on the popular “Mr and Mrs” game, where couples must answers questions about the other person without them in the room.
The groom must answer questions about his relationship with the bride correctly. These questions can include everything from basics like the location of their first date, to “what was the last thing the bride said to you yesterday”.
For every answer he gets wrong, he or the groomsmen have to conduct a difficult physical task — such as pushups, or a challenging yoga position.
- Keep the games to under an hour. There’s a long day ahead with plenty of other activities to get through.
- Have a good time. These are some of the most fun parts of the day, and is a great way to kick of the festivities.
- Go overboard. These games are all in good fun and shouldn’t become an embarrassing affair for anyone involved.
- Push for a ridiculous amount of lai see money. The groom will have worked out beforehand what amount is appropriate.