Sunday 24 July 2011

Wedding = love Part 3: My big fat Chinese banquet reception

{all photos by Jel Photography unless otherwise stated}

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. ~ William Shakespeare

It's finally here!  The last installment of my Wedding = love album!  

Having had a white wedding, our reception was a Big Fat Chinese Banquet.  And yes I mean really do mean big fat banquet with a whopping 12 courses!  

No sirree, we don't do nothin' by halves down here.

{Menu with all 12 courses of our banquet complete with the meaning behind each dish! Photo taken by David Chan}

And as with all things wedding-ey, there are traditionally set game-plans on to how the receptions are run e.g. what speeches there are, who speaks, when they speak etc.  Interestingly, Western weddings and Chinese weddings have similar but also rather different 'set-pieces'.  Same same but different.

The Entrance

Usually in a Chinese banquet, the newly weds are waiting at the front of the restaurant greeting guests as they come in.  There would be a welcoming table for the guests to sign in, their red pockets/gifts are recorded by a little team of helpers (usually bridesmaids/family) and they are directed to their seats.

We decided to go with the western entrance, with the MC announcing our arrival after everyone sat down (this decision may or may not have been influenced by the fact that we were running late because someone couldn't find his speech notes as we were leaving for the restaurant...)

The Food

Our food was very definitely Chinese. In fact it was so Chinese, the dishes even had cute elaborately grandiose names and meanings behind them.

1. Appetizer platter with roast meats and jellyfish.

2. Golden Crab Claws stuffed with Shrimp Mousse 
This dish represents the groom, the ‘Dragon’, which is the yang aspect in the marriage.

3. Gold & Silver Scallops  
Sautéed and deep fried scallops with vegetables. 
The Chinese word for scallops is a homophone for children, and serving scallops wishes the newlyweds lots of happy children. 

4. Chinese Style Soup with Fish Maw and Crab(not pictured)

5. Braised Abalone with Chinese Mushrooms & Lettuce
The Chinese word for abalone (bao yu) sounds similar to “assurance of wealth”, thus wishing the new couple prosperity and good fortune in their new marriage.
{photo by David Chan}
6. Sautéed Shrimps with Cashews in a Crispy Taro Nest
A nest made of fried taro symbolises a new nest and happy home. The Chinese word for prawns is “ha” which sounds like laughter and represents a happy marriage filled with laughter.

7. Crispy Roasted Chicken (not pictured)
The chicken represented the Pheonix or the bride (the yin aspect of the marriage).  The chicken is always served whole to symbolise together and completeness.

8. Whole Steamed Fish with Spring Onions & Ginger
The Chinese word for fish “yu” sounds like “plentiful” and it is served in the hope that the couple will experience a life together with abundance.

We also had but didn't manage to get photos of: 

9. Braised E-Fu Noodles: The noodles are served to symbolize longevity

10. Fried Rice.

11. Lotus Seed & Lily Bulb Dessert Soup: The dessert soup symbolizes a sweet happy marriage as anything sweet brings happiness. Lotus seeds are traditionally highlighted in the wedding banquet as the name in Chinese sounds like the Chinese saying "every year a son".  

12. Chinese petit fours: heart shaped coconut marshmallows and heart shaped jellies.

We didn't have the traditional Shark Fin Soup or Suckling Pig with the apple in it's mouth that you would find at more hard out banquets.  Wasn't too sure how our kiwi friends and relos would take a suckling pig with blinking LEDs for eyes!  Apparently the suckling pig is supposed to represent the bride's virginity.  Awkward conversation starter that one.

All our dishes we did have though were delicious and stunningly presented and we were just so so stoked with the food and service that I would love to give a wee plug for the restaurant Sun World Chinese Restaurant in Newmarket, Auckland: thank you so much for making our night run smoothly and for being such an amazing venue!

The Speeches

Modern Chinese weddings and Western weddings have pretty much the same speech line-up: Father of the bride, father of the groom, best man, maid of honour and groom.  Modern Chinese weddings now also invariably have cheesy powerpoint presentations showing pictures of the bride and groom as they were growing up just to maximise embarrassment to the newlyweds.  

{C making his speech in front of a tribute to my Dad}

We got the best of both worlds...all the speeches, the slide show the whole shebang.  It was equal parts embarrassing, touching, hilarious, and moving.  We laughed till we cried, and cried as we laughed.  Who knew we were in the prescence of such talented orators!

The toasts

In Chinese weddings, at a particular point in the night (I know it's supposed to be in between certain dishes on the menu but I can't remember which!), the bride and groom make their way round each table with all the members of the head table and toast each table to thank them for coming.  

Our glasses were supposed to be filled with cognac but since I am the most lightweight drinker in the world, I just had good old beer in my glass.  Who said I wasn't a classy broad.

The cake cutting

Yes my lovelies that's the cake!!!  I am SO excited to show you this first pic of the wedding cake.  But since I'm going to dedicate a whole post to the making of my wedding cake I'm going to leave you in suspense for just a little while longer...

The bouquet toss/handover

The bouquet toss: the part of the wedding all the single ladies are waiting for right?  Well we did it a wee bit differently.  Instead of doing the old chuck the bouquet into a screaming clawing crowd of singles we decided to do a Bouquet Handover.   We first saw this cool little tradition at C's cousin's wedding, where they called us up on to the stage during the reception to hand over the bouquet to us as the next couple getting married. 

So we decided to follow suit and call up our friends Henry and Ranyi who will be getting married at the end of this year, to pass the bouquet on to.  Congrats guys!

The First Dance

There were high expectations for us on this first dance.  I did ballroom dancing for many years and had taught a couple of my friends their wedding dances.  

On the other hand the odds were also stacked in favour of one or the both of us being badly injured during this part of the festivities, you see, C has two left feet.  Two left baby elephant feet, at that.  AND as I was now living in a different city to my then fiance, practising was out of the question.  Tricky...

In the end, we decided to go with my fav Sinatra number and a nice simple rhythm foxtrot to The Way You Look Tonight with a high risk maximum impact manoeuvre as a finale....the scoop lift.

It paid off!  The start was a little shaky but we managed not to trip each other up, drop me and inflict any broken noses or bones.  Success!

And from there, it was everyone on the d-floor for some shimmying, boogieing and bootie shaking for the rest of the night with The Claw making an appearance just once or twice.

Couldn't have asked for a more perfect end to a more perfect day.

For parts 1 and 2 of the wedding = love album see here and here.


  1. Your wedding reception looks amazing! You look gorgeous and very happy :)

  2. The meal looks incredible!

  3. love it love it love it, you look completely beautiful x

  4. I literally laughed out loud when I read the pig with LED lights part! A whole pig on the table is shocking enough, but the LED lights just make it more.. dramatic? Hysterical? hah Can't wait to see your cake!

  5. timeforalittlesomething: Thanks heaps Jemma!! We had the best night EVA! Loved every moment, even the more embarrasing ones :P

    Sinead: It was the banquet to end all banquets! I'm gutted I was too busy hobnobbing to taste all the dishes but everyone RAVED about the food :)

    jacksta: Thanks lovely!!

    Paula @ pod and 3 peas: Aw wow thanks Paula!!!!

    Donna: Hahaha I think its for dramatic effect? I've corrected my typo - it's supposed to be LEC for eyes. Yip that's right they put twinkling LEDs in the eyes. Totally creepy. AND I've added what it's supposed to represent too :P

  6. Wow! Hey you know what!
    Is this place a popular dim sum place in Auckland?
    When was your wedding?
    I mean, I was eating at this dim sum place similar to yours in Auckland one morning rite...with some Auckland friends... then in the middle of dining, We've got kicked out because a wedding's about to start. Was that yours?!

    If it were, I'm OK with you having an obviously happier and more important experience than me, but I was on the roll of my 13 consecutive dim sum weekend of the year that weekend... then it was 13 and 1/2... Now I know what happen to the other half! Hahaha!

    Wedding's pretty urban Chinese btw, without being over-the-top and out-dated. Nice!

  7. Looks like a wonderful event. I love the meanings behind each dish. So beautiful!

  8. Wat a lovely wedding evening each and every food loos fantastic but heart went for Sautéed Shrimps with Cashews in a Crispy Taro Nest and meaning it symbolizes...cheers to you both!

  9. PFx: Hehe how funny if it was you we kicked out??? Its was at the end of May at Sunworld in Newmarket, Auckland. 13 consecutive dim sum weekends...mahi pai mate! Are you all siu mai'ed out yet?

    Lora: Thanks heaps Lora! I had no idea the dishes even had those meanings until our a whole new meaning to food for thought right?? :)

    Ananda Rajashekar: Thanks Ananda! I loved that dish too - the texture of the taro nest is incredible...yum!

    Carina: Thanks for your comment Carina! :)

  10. Thank you for sharing your amazing wedding! I'm a kiwi Chinese in Wellington, and getting married next month. I really wish I found your blog earlier. I love reading about your tea ceremony and your big fat chinese banquet haha we are doing something very similar with our ceremony on a saturday and a banquet on sunday with tea ceremony. I also loved how you did on the cheap- I just couldn't justify the cost of wedding dresses in nz, they are like half my wedding budget! I am very fortunate to have a very talented seamstress aunt who has made my dress and it fits amazing. I am not brave enough to bake my own wedding cake, however I am ordering a large choc raspberry cake from Moore Wilsons and sprucing it up myself. Thanks again, and I hope you and your hubby are living happily ever after :D

  11. Your east-meets-west wedding makes for a lovely feast; it’s certainly a fabulous wedding, and I'm sure everybody had a blast. Thank you for sharing the joyful events of your special day with us. May you have a happy and fulfilling life together!

    Matt Fisher @ Nomad Events



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