When most of us think weddings, we conjure images of brides in white dresses, bridesmaids, bouquets and dashing grooms, but in other parts of the world, the only common feature is the dashing groom and, of course, the bride.
Wedding customs and ceremonies vary markedly from country to country, no more so than in China where red and gold are the traditional colours for a wedding dress and the big day starts with the groom picking up the bride from her parents’ home before the holding of a traditional tea ceremony that involves a blessing by both sets of parents.
Weddings take an entire day with the reception always being held in the evening, There are games, red envelopes and lots of fun – and that’s even before the festivities kick of.
“Chinese weddings are not necessarily about the couple getting married, they’re about the entire family and celebrating the people who brought up the couple and supported them throughout their lives,” says Silvia Wei, a marketing executive at the popular Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport, which recently released a range of wedding packages aimed at those wanting to marry in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony.
“Chinese weddings are about saying ‘Thank You’ and formally expressing gratitude to the couple’s parents and elders, so there are lots of customs that involve the parents and we can build all that into our Chinese wedding packages.”
Silvia, who herself was born in China, says that pulling off a Chinese weddings outside of China is somewhat of an art form, because they’re a combination of many ancient customs and traditions – and there are lots of taboos to avoid.
“Just as it’s considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before the wedding, there are a number of things that should be avoided in Chinese weddings,” she adds. “For example, you’d rarely marry on a fourth, you’d always check the wedding date against a Lunar calendar and the groom would never, ever wear a green hat, as that symbolises cheating,” says Sylvia, who spearheaded the creation of the hotel’s new Chinese wedding packages.
The packages, which are costed on a per-table basis can also include a multi-lingual MC and Chinese music, but all packages include authentic Chinese wedding cuisine created by Chinese chefs.
Silvia can also help with creating invitations in simplified or traditional Chinese characters.
Among the traditional wedding dishes on offer in the packages is Wagyu, Brocolloni, brandy infused black pepper sauce, eight treasure seafood fried rice in lotus leaf and black glutinous rice pudding with black sesame ball.
“We can even help with the ceremonial wedding tea set and the bride’s qi pao (pronounced ‘chi pow’), the lavish gold and red silk wedding dress traditionally work by Chinese brides,” though, adds Sylvia, many of the Asian weddings held at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport are half Western and half Chinese style, with the bride changing into a white gown after the customary ceremonies are over.
“It’s actually very difficult to find a high quality qi pao in Australia because, traditionally, they were handmade by the bride’s mother or grandmother and given to her as a wedding gift, so it’s really special that we have several on hand for brides wanting to go down the traditional Chinese route.”
Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport‘s 11 function rooms play host to many types of wedding each year, including, of course, traditional western weddings which make up the majority of the weddings they hold, as well as Indian weddings and other Asian ceremonies.
The venue seats up to 250 guests and it also features the largest pillar less ballroom south of Sydney.
They’ve launched the new Chinese wedding packages to cater for increasing requests from Chinese couples, or couples where either the bride or groom has Chinese heritage.
The Stamford Plaza is particularly popular with couples whose families are flying in from interstate or overseas, as it is located directly opposite Sydney’s domestic airport. So, guests flying in or out of Sydney for the wedding can hop on an airport shuttle to check in or out within minutes.
Of course, couples jetting out for their honeymoons straight after the wedding can also be in the airport within 10 minutes.
“It’s a pretty handy location,” says Sylvia. “It’s directly opposite Sydney airport, so it’s easy to get to and everyone who comes to Sydney sees it as they drive out of the airport. You’ve probably seen us, but don’t even realise it!”
Regardless of what type of wedding you hold, one of the benefits of having it at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport is that all couples receive their wedding night accommodation as part of the package, as well as a bottle of bubbly and a buffet breakfast room service for two.
“Whether you’re marrying in a western wedding or a Chinese one, wedding ceremonies are chock full of all sorts of small traditions and conventions that are important to the bridal couple, so it’s important that whomever is organising yours understands these and crafts a wedding ceremony that truly reflects your personalities,” says Sylvia who spent six months researching how to create the perfect Chinese wedding on Australian soil.
“It’s been a truly wonderful experience. As a child in China, I attended dozens of weddings and they were very touching and lots of fun, and made me really proud of my Chinese heritage.”
“I never thought we’d be able to recreate that very same warm and authentic feeling thousands of miles away for someone else, but we did and it’s wonderful. Every time I organise a Chinese wedding, it reminds me of home, which is kind of the point of our packages, don’t you think?”