Our Big Day > Guides and Inspiration > Guides > What to Do as Groomsman at a Traditional Chinese Wedding

What to Do as Groomsman at a Traditional Chinese Wedding

So you’ve been picked by your best friend to be a groomsman at his traditional Chinese wedding: but beyond the standard duties of helping him plan the events surrounding his big day, pick a suit, and generally assist in wedding duties, you have no idea what to expect. Here’s a handy guide, so you can really step up. 

In Cantonese, groomsmen are known as “brothers”, whereas the best man is known as the sole “groomsman”.

Credits: Brian Jala Photography

Rundown 

Understand the pecking order 

In Cantonese, groomsmen are known as “brothers”, whereas the best man is known as the sole “groomsman”.

Like the best man in western weddings, the sole groosman is expected to take up a large chunk of duties among the group. As for the brothers, traditionally they are seen as the folks who are there to add to the celebratory atmosphere during the wedding door games, as well as welcome guests at the banquet.

If there is no best man appointed, one “brother” will usually emerge as the leader of the pack.

Plan the bachelor party

Like in all modern weddings, it goes without saying that you should plan the groom’s bachelor party, or stag do. From a night out on the town to a vacation in an island resort, find out what he wants and go from there. 

Accompany the groom to fittings 

Those wedding photos are going to be around forever, so do offer to go with the groom to fittings for the suit he’ll be wearing.

Help the groom get dressed on the wedding day 

Again, a pretty standard responsibility expected of groomsmen.

Pick up the bride… and play door games 

This is where things start to heat up. Groomsmen play an important part in Chinese weddings, especially right at the beginning of the day, when the groom visits the bride’s mother’s home to pick her up.

As groomsmen at a Chinese wedding, you are expected participate in the traditional door games with gusto. Along with the groom, you would need to give the bridesmaids lai see in order to “bribe” them into letting you in, and taking the bride’s hand. Make sure you’ve arranged lai see beforehand, so you have them at the ready when the bridesmaids demand them.

After that, you would of course need to carry out any tasks and challenges that the bridesmaids give you during these door games. A head’s up: some of these involve physical exercise and endurance. 

Credits: Leaf Photography.co 一葉

Welcome guests at the banquet and collect lai see 

These duties are usually split between the groomsmen and bridesmaids. Often, however, the men are expected to take up bigger responsibilities, because Chinese banquets are typically hosted by the groom’s parents — aka your side.

At the door, where there will be a table set up to welcome guests, be sure to divide up duties on greeting people, directing them to their table, as well as lai see collection. 

There will be relatives whose birth names might not necessarily appear on the list of guests, owing to the fact that in the Chinese language, family members address their elders by kinship terms, which may be on the guestlist instead. If you are not a member of the groom’s family, or if there isn’t a member of the family within the bridal party, this can get confusing. It’s worth checking with the groom how best to handle this before the wedding day (such as arranging for someone who is part of the family to help welcome guests).

Be prepared for lots of people who will show up with cash, but without a lai see packet to put them in. They will most likely ask you for a packet. Luckily, most Hong Kong hotels and restaurants that accommodate Chinese wedding banquets will have these on hand — and you should ask for these before the first guests arrive.

Be sure to remind guests to sign their names, or a message of some kind that indicates the giver, on the back on their lai see. This will help the bride and groom track who has given them what. Decide if you want to arrange for a collection box, or for the best man and maid of honour to hold on to them.

The bridesmaids may need to go help the bride with changing into her evening dress, so make sure the station is always covered.

Prepare for a speech

If you are the best man, and the groom has asked you to give a speech, then make sure it’s a good one!

Unlike western weddings where the evening reception will have a DJ who doubles as an MC, at Chinese wedding banquets some groomsmen will be asked to take on this responsibility.

Drink for the groom at the banquet

There’s a reason why attending a Chinese banquet is colloquially known as “going drinking” in Cantonese — that’s because there is a lot of booze involved.

At some point in the wedding, the bride, groom, their parents, and the bridal party will go around every table in order of seniority — from least (acquaintances, co-workers) to most (usually the table where the patriarchs and matriarchs of the families are seated), where they will toast to every guest. Follow their lead and drink for good health.

Some guests will toast to the groom time and time again — a Chinese wedding tradition. As a groomsman, you can step in and “help him drink”, so to speak. This is a good move if the groom is starting to slur his speech.

Credits: Wainwright Weddings

Dos 

  • Show up to all wedding-related events if need be. Some couples involve their bridal party at the tea ceremony, some don’t. There is no excuse for you to not be there. 
  • Be a general “assistant” throughout the day. Call the bride or bridesmaids to let them know the groom is on his way, look after his valuables, have snacks on hand for him, remind him to drink water. 
  • Provide emotional support to the groom, and become a calming influence for both families. It’s a long day with lots of activities happening, after months or even years of planning, and people can get emotional. 

Don’ts

  • Get too drunk. You don’t want to become “that guy” the families talk about for months after the wedding. 
  • Overeat. Most Chinese banquets have nine courses and up. On the flip side, remember that most Chinese banquets usually run late, with the first dish served well past 8pm, so try and grab a bite in the afternoon for sustenance. 
  • Leave before the groom. At Chinese banquets, the oranges served after dessert is a signal for the end of the evening, so you’ll see lots of people make a move towards the exit once the citrus hits the table. This doesn’t mean you should follow them, however: stick around to make sure the groom has everything he needs, and ensure the lai see money is in safe hands, too.