How do Cultural Differences Effect Wedding Planning?

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Observers allege that getting married is the best thing a woman or a man can achieve in life. This allegation has not been proven right or wrong because various married couples point out that they are better off married than single or dating. However, while the personal feelings of people intending to marry cannot be analyzed beyond a reasonable doubt, it is advised that current and traditional wedding planning be synthesized. What happens after the wedding has taken place is the sole business of the couple. However, with regards to the planning of the wedding, it is everyone’s (given they have relevance to the wedding) business to be involved to play a definitive role. In various traditional weddings, parents play a very important role in that they have to marry off their daughters and their sons in some settings (India for example). This coursework investigates the differences between Chinese and UK (British) weddings in terms of planning and execution. While the earlier hypothesis can be tested by analyzing various factors that proceed after the marriage, it is recommended the pre-wedding hustle be analyzed. Therefore, this paper intends to point out the various planning considerations relevant to traditional Chinese and British weddings.

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Background Information

Urbanization is one factor that has drained society of the moral fiber and deprived communities the chance of exploring tradition and cultural aspects of living. In various nations, mostly western, weddings are no longer dictated by traditions or culture because the diversity of culture has influenced people to drop their personal cultures. Westernization, as various Arab nations call it, is the adaptation of the American culture by allowing lifestyle to erode traditions and cultural beliefs. In western nations, the aspect of Westernization overstates freedom and the right of choice. This aspect has not only given way to civil marriages, but it has also allowed people to engage in taboo practices. The taboo practices that have been documented or can be observed within the community involve gay marriages, one woman having two husbands, and a man having multiple women all married through a wedding. With respect to this paper’s context, it is highly inconceivable how a wedding involving one bride and two grooms would be planned. On the other hand, if the hypothesis stated at the beginning of this paper has some grounds, it would be based on the case of a man marrying multiple women at once or one after the other. The arrangement is likely to have multiple wedding planning problems or marriage-related issues which may define how the groom or the bride will take the entire wedding ceremony (consider imbalanced attention or wedding elegance).

While the aspect of Westernization is seen in most communities as demoralizing to traditional and cultural practices, the aspects of conflicting modern and traditional practices continue to take shape regardless of whether people still wed in churches or elsewhere (Chen, 2002). While the world has become more competitive in terms of education, technology adaptation, income generation, and general lifestyle; tastes and preferences that go against traditions and cultures have emerged. Current literature on weddings provides little to no link between current weddings and the corresponding cultural underpinnings of the involved parties. It is through the review of some of the current literature, that the differences between traditional and cultural weddings can be explored. Modern wedding planning has only taken the shape of elegance with no moral, spiritual, traditional, or cultural references. For example, modern couples tend to blend their dark and twisted tastes into their weddings. Such is the holding of wedding ceremonies in cruise ships, at the beach, in personal jets, at military bases, or in random public places. While traditional ceremonies value the role played by parents, various modern weddings do not take this as a requirement with respect to the cultural division between generations. In this case, the background information on wedding planning and the appreciation of traditions reflect on current information that concentrates on preferences rather than traditions and culture.

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Wedding planning, with respect to traditions and culture, involves the crucial aspects of time and timing. For a traditional wedding to be successful, various stages of planning have to be time-sensitive. For example, pre-wedding preparations should give space to rituals and associated practices (Look, 2006). In addition, the wedding couple should be allowed time to adjust to the coming big day. During the wedding ceremony, planning should also allocate time with respect to all tradition-associated practices that require to be performed. On the other hand, the roles played by various entities such as father and mother of either the groom or the bride should be fitted perfectly within a schedule, budget, and considerations for other businesses. In this paper, the rationale for selecting Chinese and British traditional and cultural weddings is to explore how corresponding traditions and cultures influence the wedding planning. The Chinese are known to be highly traditional even in business negotiation tables; hence, a traditional approach in a wedding is likely to shed more light on the Chinese traditions and culture (Tong, 2005). The British on the other hand, represent a mid-range traditional come cultural appreciation due to their association with both the Asian and American communities. The valuation of various aspects of the wedding depends on the influence the society has on couples. Therefore, the rationale of this paper is analyzing the association between influential societal norms between two diverse cultures.

Literature Review


Proposal and Betrothal

In modern proposals, men would do a number of nice things to a lady to set in the right mood and gather enough guts in asking the big question (will you marry me?). Women document that they have been taken to surprise lunches or candlelit dinners to be proposed. Others document a busy day of a shopping spree and a late-night dinner at a fancy restaurant for the same. Other familiar and popular modern ways of proposing to involve the presentation of highly valued gifts with a note that asks, “Will you marry me?” While all these extremes are associated with modern weddings, traditional Chinese weddings take a different, but highly organized path. For example, the proposing part is not a task that the groom or the bride has to control. In this case, the man and the woman who intend to get married someday inform their families about their intentions. This allows the bride’s and groom’s families to set a meeting date. This date is specified for the meeting and has to be convenient for both parties. This meeting is referred to as betrothal.

The importance of this meeting is to relate all functions of association in one seating so that, the bride’s family can judge whether the groom is worthy wedding their daughter. The main event for the betrothal meeting is to impress the bride’s parents so that they can consider whether their daughter can be engaged for marriage to the groom. During this meeting, the groom’s family presents various gifts to the bride’s family as a proposal before being allowed to be engaged. If the gifts are accepted, the entire set or the specific gift is referred to as the Grand Gift. After the Grand Gift has been accepted the gentleman and the lady are considered officially engaged (Lau, & Ma, 1986). The effect of this approach to the entire wedding plan is eliminating the element of surprises during the last days of arranging the wedding. For example, after the engagement, the couple would schedule various meetings with both families to plan a wedding date. If the engagement did not take a proper channel, funds can be wasted on wedding planning only to have the entire process canceled.

Wedding Day Ceremony

While in various other cultural settings brides and grooms have rituals performed to them, the Chinese have rituals even on the wedding day. In this case, the bride and the groom have hairdressing and capping rituals done on them. The hairdressing ritual is performed on the bride to symbolize the transition that is about to take place. During the hairdressing ritual, the bride is supposed to sit on the floor, while lining her hair like a married woman would do. Capping, on the other hand, is performed to the groom by his father to symbolize prosperity and pledge for responsibility. The groom is then supposed to set to the bride’s home where he should pick her. However, picking the bride is not an official approach as time wastage is eminent in that the groom is blocked by the bridesmaids and friends. They also engage in a door game, when the groom is required to answer various questions from random people to showcase how much he cares for the bride (Lam, 1986). In other cases, the groom would be blindfolded and presented with a number of women from whom he should correctly pick his bride by either feeling their palms or their faces. The importance of these games or investigative approach is to convince friends and family that the groom cares for the bride. This approach, although performed a little late for reversal of the wedding, is relevant to the bride’s family in the assurance of their daughter’s security with the groom.

Once the games are done, the groom and the bride leave together to attend a Tea Ceremony with a red umbrella held above the bride’s head. The role of the red umbrella is to keep evil spirits away from the bride. The Tea Ceremony is a ceremony bigger than just the ‘tea’ part. During this ceremony, the bride has beans and other cereals thrown around her feet as a symbol of fertility. Various rituals are performed at this ceremony of which many are directed to the bride as a way of protecting her from evil spirits. According to the Chinese, an unproductive woman is a result of evil spirits, hence, these rituals are believed to be extremely relevant. It is, however, astonishing how such a requirement is so important during the wedding day while the Chinese Law dictates that every family should only have one child (One Child Policy) (Lin, 1980). During the wedding day, although in various other cultures it may not be important, I the groom and the bride need to feel protected from spirits of bad luck or infertility. According to planning, the wedding day ceremonies are allocated time in order to accommodate every aspect of the ritual.

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Pre-wedding Ritual

It is normal that all friends and family members be invited to the wedding as the event occurs once in the couple’s lifetime. In this case, the planning entities require sending double happiness cakes and invitations. This approach is aimed at convincing the right number of invitees to attend the wedding ceremony. While betrothal meeting is important, a day should be arranged where the bride’s family and the grooms should discuss the dowry. Discussing the dowry is not the best term that can be used to describe the meeting because the bride’s family dictates the proceedings of the meeting. For example, the bride’s parents present a list of dowries that they would like before marrying their daughter away (Mair, 2012).

Other rituals involve ‘setting the bride’s bed’ ritual performed by the groom’s family. This includes the preparation of the bridal house for the ceremony. On the other hand, the bride’s family prepares the accessories, mostly the bedding and dining in a quest to set up a new house. The fact that the two families are involved in this preparation shows unity and a lifetime association dictated by the matrimony of the bride and the groom.

For the Chinese, the groom can be classified as the one-party on the receiving end; however, the bride is also required to prove herself as worth the efforts. In this case, once the wedding is through, the bride is required to wake early and prepare a meal for the groom’s family. This is more of a test as it proves that she is well-nurtured. Three days later after this, the groom and the bride are supposed to visit the bride’s parents. It is clear that the Chinese traditional wedding has some comparisons with modern weddings. However, the honeymoon part that is an important element to the newlyweds is not present in the Chinese version of the cultural wedding (Mair, 2012).

The British

While the Chinese can be wedded at home or in public place, weddings in the UK are mostly held in churches. This is the case for traditional and majority of modern-day weddings. However, the aspect of an actual church has been edited over generations with considerations to change the location and the number of invited guests (Suter, 1993). The church aspect is a result of balanced interests without the actual consideration of personal or individual cultural underpinnings. It unifies the tradition and cultural differences assuming that all are bound together by the faith they share. Church wedding ceremonies are marked by reading of the scripture and summoning the invited guests to pose their concerns if they had obligations to the marriage of the involved parties. In most cases, the above scenario takes some time for the preparation stage to allow those with obligations to come forth in time (Storry, 2002).

The church ceremony has traditionally been marked with various specific elements. For example, family members and friends would take different rows in siting. Logically, it is important that the bride and groom’s family occupy the front rows as they make a very important audience for the wedding parties. While sitting arrangements are phenomenal, the order with which people enter the church is that the invited guests should take their seats followed by bridesmaids and the groom’s best men. The groom is required to stand by the altar while awaiting the bride. The bride, on the other hand, is escorted down the aisle by her father as a symbol that she belonged to a caring family. Unlike the Chinese who would summon both families in the negotiation table for proposal and dowry bargains, the British would settle for the dowry alone. The presence of all parties in the church means that they all agree with the patrimony of the two parties.

At the church, vows are exchanged between the bride and the groom. Traditionally, vows were dictated by the pastor, reverend, or a Catholic father (Kholoussy, 2010). However, currently, wedding couples edit their own vows which they recite to one another as poems. These vows showcase the promises that each would thrive to accomplish with the marriage setting (Orange Coast Magazine, 2003). The consideration of traditional marriages and the role played by customs dictate how expensive such weddings can be. However, accounting for the variables considered in each case, wedding budgets for the Chinese and the British would be the same (Gillis, 1985). This is because the British display their wedding prowess by arriving in entourages for both the groom and the bride (Monger, 2004). The entourages can be classic cars, expensive cars, chariots, or white horses. The Chinese on the other hand, showcase their wedding prowess by maximizing on the security of the couple. Various rituals are performed to set in the new dawn of an additional family to the community.

British Rituals

Once the vows are exchanged the couple and all invited quests shake hands at the reception. The reception can be held in a different place other than the wedding location. At the reception, invited guests to eat and drink a lot (West, and Stubbs 2011). However, the newlyweds are supposed to eat a piece of cake together as their first meal as husband and wife. For the Chinese, newlyweds are supposed to drink wine from two glassed tied together with a red string (Knight, 2011). Immediately after the wedding, the British proceed for the honeymoon to a location of their own choice and different from their home. The honeymoon is a setting that involves only the bride and the groom where they go to explore their new status as husband and wife. According to the British, after the honeymoon, the husband is supposed to carry the wife into the new home. Mostly, the British wedding planning approaches are similar to those of the West; hence, they are pretty basic to various entities who have been absorbed in one culture or another (Gillis, 1985).

Differences between Chinese and UK (British) weddings

Chinese Wedding Customs UK (British) Wedding Customers
Mostly held at the new home to be established Mostly held at the church
Rituals performed to the bride and groom individually Rituals or customs involve both the bride and groom
Groom has to identify the bride through door game Groom and bride do not get public resistance
Reception involves various inauspicious Chinese Food Drinking and eating is the order of the reception. Bride and groom can take the cake as the first meal as man husband and wife
Bride and groom attend the wedding together Wedding couple arrives at the place of wedding individually
Family is involved in the proposal Family is only involved in the dowry and wedding plans
Dowry list is presented to by the bride’s family and the groom’s family has to pay it Dowry can be negotiated regarding one’s abilities.
Red umbrella and red dress for the wedding is used to symbolize blood bond White wedding dress is used to symbolize purity
Wedding is held at the new home hence no need for the husband to carry the wife around After the honeymoon, the husband carries the wife into the new home.


The current state of affairs across the world is that people require doing things according to their own tastes and preferences. While traditions and customs still hold to date, most weddings occur outside the traditions and customs arrangement. To the Chinese and the British, traditional weddings have a formula of success. However, outside the traditional and customary wedding planning, a planner is required to consult with the couple in order to determine tastes and preferences and how to accommodate both sets without contradiction. The aspect of elegance and ruthlessness in weddings should be addressed at the couple’s level in order to plan for a successful wedding. This is because traditional weddings have a formula that makes them easy to manage in terms of budgeting but hard to fit within a time schedule.


Currently, to pull off a successful wedding requires the consideration of various personality-related variables. With a reflection of how weddings were planned in the traditional Chinese settings, it is clear that a manual-like approach was assumed. In this case, it is universal for every Chinese couple considering a wedding to follow a widely popularized approach with regards to the cultural bias. While UK weddings are not very distinct from the Chinese, rituals and other practices are limited to a religious approach. UK weddings take place in churches, unlike their Chinese counterparts. Red dresses and red umbrellas are some of the special elements that symbolize a traditional Chinese ceremony. White dresses and black suits are some of the elements that symbolize British weddings.

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