Want to know one of the most underrated secrets to a smooth wedding celebration? It’s having a solid plan, and sticking to it. Agreeing on a schedule with your partner in advance of the day, and getting familiar with the arrangements will be key to making sure things run like the dream you’ve always imagined in your head.
Every wedding is different, but we’ve highlighted the sequence of key events that a lot of brides and grooms love to incorporate into their celebrations. We hope that you find it helpful, and that it helps you have a wonderful wedding day.
The Hair Combing Ceremony
This usually happens the night before your wedding day.
Brides, you need to pick an auspicious time for an older married woman, usually your mother, to comb your hair.
For extra luck, arrange to have 3 generations of your family together during the ceremony, the members of which all have happy marriages.
Hair and Makeup for the Bridal Party
Brides, we recommend that you invite the bridesmaids and makeup artists to your home (or hotel) early. Around 6 to 7am start is ideal. This will give you plenty of time to prepare.
Photographing the Preparations
We recommend inviting the photographers and videographers about half an hour after the makeup artists arrive.
Assembling the Groomsmen
Grooms, you should be taking this time to prepare yourselves and your groomsmen in preparation for the day ahead.
Playing the ‘Door Games’
Grooms, we recommend that you and your groomsmen make your way to the bride’s party around 8 to 9am to begin the ‘door games’.
Begin your ‘door games’. This is where the groom’s party must overcome obstacles prepared by bridal party in order for the groom to prove his love.
Grooms, you should prepare a special red packet to give to the bridal party to ‘open the door’. The figure in the red packet should end in 9 (e.g. HKD 3,999 or HKD 9,999), as this implies “everlasting” in Cantonese.
Finally, you should read a declaration of love to the bride to finish off the ‘Door Games’.
Tea Ceremony at Bride’s
After completing the ‘door games’ you should participate in a tea ceremony with the bride’s family. We recommend around 9 to 10am.
Tea Ceremony at Groom’s
The same ceremony can be conducted where the groom’s family is located.
Arriving at Wedding Venue
Ensure that after lunch everyone involved in preparation (family, bridal and groom’s party, photographers, videographers, makeup artists) regroups at the wedding venue with plenty of time to spare before the ceremony. This gives you plenty of time to touch up hair and makeup.
Touching Up Makeup
Conducting the Wedding Ceremony
This is where your union is officially recognised! Sign your marriage certificate in the presence of a lawyer, or officiant such as a priest.
Photographing the Newly Married Bride and Groom
Arriving at the Reception Venue
Again, we recommend arriving early to give yourselves adequate time to set up. There might be a lot to prepare and to check, including the welcome desk, table settings, audio visual set up, stage, and food preparations.
Group Photos With Guests
(Optional) Tea Ceremony with Distant Relatives
Depending on whether or not you have relatives living abroad or far away, you might partake in a final tea ceremony at the venue where all your relatives are able to gather conveniently.
Changing the Wedding Gown and Touching Up Makeup
If you’re planning on wearing more than one wedding gown during your big day, this is a good time to change and freshen up
Arriving Into the Banquet Hall
You and your partner should do a ‘grand march-in’ before dinner commences and the reception program starts.
Dinner Banquet, Including:
Photos and video presentation
Toasting at each table
Thanking All the Guest for their Attendance
Draft your plan rundown before your wedding day. Add precise timings for each vendor and each venue and go over this with your partner. Host meeting with your bridesmaids and groomsmen assign work for each of them. Make sure you are all clear about the schedule and each other’s responsibilities to minimise any confusion on the day. Also, include useful contact details like vendor phone numbers, so you can refer to this document if anything goes away.
Add plenty of buffer time for each activity on the day. Being late can throw everything out, so you want to sure that you have plenty of time to spare between each element of the celebration.
Do consider adding canapes and entertainment at the reception venue before the wedding banquet begins. This can help occupy guests in case dinner is a long time coming.
Don’t forget to look after your photographer and videographers- particularly around mealtimes. They are with you for the whole day, and keeping them happy might get you that extra special shot!
Don’t keep your guests waiting for food! Keep to your schedule to avoid hangry guests.
Don’t feel obliged to drink every toast at your wedding, especially if you have dozens of tables. You can always get your groomsmen and bridesmaids to help you drink! If things are getting a bit intense, you can also ask for a cup of “千杯不醉”. This literally means “thousand cup without getting drunk”, and allows you to switch from alcohol to tea!
The wedding day is a combination of very ancient traditional rituals and more modern elements. The most traditional element that remains in the majority of weddings is the selection of a wedding date based on an auspicious time. This tradition stems back to the days when people commonly consulted fortune tellers for all manner and means of events.
Another traditional element that often persists in modern times is wearing the Qun Kwa, or Chinese Wedding dress. Tradition dictates that a woman can only wear this once during in her life- on the day of her wedding. This means that even during fittings for the Qun Kwa, the bride to be can never try on a full set in one go, and can only try on one piece at a time.
For those who believe in tradition, the last time the bride-to-be leaves her house as an unmarried woman, she should be accompanied by a Dai Kun Jeh. The Dai Kun Jeh is a traditional wedding advisor and officiant. The Dai Kun Jeh should carry a red umbrella, scatter rice on the floor and recite fortunate sayings to bring good luck. Meanwhile, the Bride should take care not to turn around and look back, as this symbolises that she is wholeheartedly stepping into her new future and new life without any reservations.
On the other hand, as times have changed, other elements of the wedding day have been adapted or excluded. For example, in earlier times, once a woman was married, she very rarely saw her family and friends again. This prompted a tradition called “retreating to the cockloft” where the bride to be and her friends would retreat into a small attic and sing songs to mourn her union and subsequent departure. In a day where smartphones, instant messaging, video communications and cheap flights are common, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where brides to be would rarely see their friends again. Thus, this once poignant ritual has become less relevant, and is very rarely practiced today.