A great wedding needs great invites. After all, you always want to make the best first impression with your guests. However, preparing a beautiful invite that incorporates traditional Chinese wedding etiquette can be a complicated task. To help you out we’ve prepared a helpful set of tips to guide you through the whole process, and covering everything from design to distribution.
What Should I Include in My Invites?
A wedding invite that follows traditional etiquette will contain a mix of information for guests, as well as traditional elements that carry symbolic meaning.
When including information for guests, make sure that you include the following details as a minimum:
- Date and time of the reception banquet
- Venue of the reception banquet
- Names of the bride and groom
- RSVP information
- Dress code (if there is one)
If you would like to incorporate traditional elements, we would recommend that you add:
- The date of the banquet according to the Chinese lunar calendar
- Traditional Chinese sayings
- A red packet with 20HKD
- A cake voucher
How Should I Design My Invites?
Choose a design and format that leaves plenty of space between all the elements. If you are incorporating both information and traditional elements, things can look crowded if you pack too much in to a small space.
A colour palette of red and gold is the most traditional. These are colours of wealth and celebration. However, it is not unknown for modern couples to use colours like ivory, cream and pink that are more commonly used in non-Chinese weddings. It’s best to stay away from darker shades such as green, black and blue as these are more commonly associated with mourning.
When Should I Start Finding Someone to Make My Invites?
Most couples send their invitations around 1 month before the day of the wedding banquet, so it makes sense to give yourself plenty of time to prepare beforehand to get everything just right.
We’d recommend starting the whole design and printing process 8 to 10 weeks before the wedding day. Remember, you’ve got to find a wedding card vendor, choose a colour scheme, decide on your text, arrange cake vouchers and red packets, as well as test print samples, so make sure you have the time to do this all before sending them out.
When Should I Send Out Invites?
You should be looking to send out invites 2 to 4 weeks before the date of the wedding banquet. Alternatively, it is also acceptable to send out invites after the ‘Guo Da Li’ ceremony between both the bride and the groom’s families.
That said, sometimes these traditions clash with modern living. 2 to 4 weeks advance notice should give most guests ample time to prepare. However, if you have friends and family that live abroad and need more notice to book leave from work, flights and accommodation, you could also send them an informal ‘save the date’ message much earlier than you send them your paper invite.
How Many Invites Should I Send Out?
This depends a lot on your guest list. Important things to take into consideration are:
- You don’t need to send an invite out to each individual guest. You can send one invite per family, or one invite per couple.
- It is still traditional to send relatives an invite even if you know that they will not be able to attend. This is a matter of showing respect and including them in the ceremony even if they cannot physically be there.
How Should I Send Out Invites?
It’s perfectly okay to post your invites to guests. However, some couples also like to hand out their invites in person to close and elderly relatives. Some couples even arrange a family dinner to help with this.
Do I Need Different Invites if I am Having a Second Banquet or a Separate Wedding Ceremony?
So far we’ve covered invitations for the main wedding banquet. However, like many modern couples you may also be inviting your guests to a wedding ceremony at a separate venue, like a church. In this case, we would recommend creating two different sets of invitations: one for the ceremony and one for the banquet. This is because
- You may want to invite different groups of people to the ceremony and to the banquet, and they will need different information
- Cramming too much information in one place can get confusing. Especially if it is for one group of people, and not another
The same principles are true if you are arranging a second banquet for additional guests. In the long run, creating separate invitations makes things a lot clearer and easier to organise and manage
Your invites don’t just have to tell your guests about the date and venue of your wedding. They can carry a lot more meaning than a simple piece of paper. Here are some beautiful traditions still associated with wedding card etiquette:
Sending a Cake Voucher to Your Guests
A cake, or a cake voucher for more modern couples, is still one of the traditional gifts in the ‘Guo Da Li’ ceremony, where the groom’s family sends gifts to the bride’s family. Sending a cake voucher in your invite shares that gift with your guests
Sending a Red Packet to Your Guests
Your guests will be gifting you with red packets on the day of your wedding banquet. Providing them your own red packet in the invite is a way of reciprocating the gift, and thanking them in advance for their generosity.
Sending Invites to Family Members, Even If You Know They Cannot Attend
Family is a cornerstone of traditional culture, and so it’s essential that all your relatives are a part of your big day (even if they cannot physically attend). This is a great way of involving all your relatives in the process, especially if you can give them the invite in person.