white lanterns traditions

White lanterns inside the Simon Fraser University Diamond Alumni Centre are bad luck in Chinese culture.

People tell you interracial relationships are hard, but it’s even more difficult when you try to plan a wedding.

Apparently, there were tons of rules I had never known existed before for Chinese parents planning a wedding. Sure, I knew that traditionally, the groom’s family pays for everything in our culture (this isn’t happening). I also knew that we needed to pour tea for my parents as a gesture of respect.

Here are five things that really took me by surprise while we’re planning our wedding:

1) No white lanterns.

I went to see the Diamond Alumni Centre up at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. It was gorgeous. There were white lanterns hanging from the ceiling. I am a huge fan of lanterns. My mom took one look at the photo and said no. White lanterns mean someone has died in the family. Oops.

2) No white, blue, or black. Period.

I wanted lavender and navy blue as my wedding colours, once upon a time. Navy blue is also associated with death, so now my wedding colours are tentative. Yellow, red, orange, and pink are best. Enough with the death already!

3) Invitations are important. Really important.

Originally, I wanted to print them off myself and had chosen a really cute invite with two birds standing on a bunting banner. My mother took one look at it and described it as “unlucky”. Their footing was too unstable, which could mean my marriage would be unstable too. Apparently, invites are forever so they have to be fancy schmancy. And here I thought I was just going to take the template and print them off on nice card stock at Staples. Silly me. Also, no excessive white, blue, or black.

4) The car for my pick-up must be decorated.

Traditionally, fetching the bride from her family’s house was part of the wedding, not just a lead-up to the wedding. Back in the day, brides were picked up in decorated rickshaws and carried to the groom’s house. There won’t be a rickshaw at my wedding, but the car needs to be decorated to indicate that a wedding is happening. Flowers, ribbons, and little stuffed animals in couples (okay, I’m sorry, but barf!) are all acceptable decorations. No white or blue of course.

5) Everything must be new.

I mean everything. Shoes, clothes, bed sheets, towels. My dream of a cost-effective wedding just went down the drain.


What kinds of traditions and customs surprised you when you’re planning your wedding? Tell me in the comments below!

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Categories: Bride-to-be Blogger, Decorations4 Comments


So many things to consider! I’m a cbc (canadian born chinese) who just got engaged to another cbc. I haven’t asked any input from any parents but once I start, I know it’s going to be a loooong list of demands. Good luck and keep us posted! I have yet to learn the Asian traditions!

Babybubblz on June 25, 2012

I have to say, that since the parents aren’t paying for the wedding, I don’t really see how they can have a list of demands for you to adhere to.
In addition, if you don’t actually know about the traditions already, it means you weren’t brought up with them, so why do you have to learn about them now?
By the way, I am a bride that married in Greece and refused to adhere to many traditions, so am speaking from a similiar background!!!

Sara on June 26, 2012

The items that you mentioned are just the tip of the ice berg for other brides and their parental prerequisites. Yet, some other parents aren’t as superstitious. I think that the best way to sort out anything is open and honest communication. It will save everyone time, headache and heartache – never mind the pocket book from costly mistakes.

Wendy Lee on June 26, 2012

[…] Only 1.5 months left until the big day! Looking back on the wedding planning process, one of the things I did not anticipate was the cultural differences in expectations for wedding-related stuff, some of which I’ve already discussed in a previous post. […]

Culture Clash and Wedding Activities | Wedding Obsession - Canadian Blog on August 05, 2013

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