Expat Magazine

Being a Bridesmaid in China is More Than Just Holding the Bouquet!

By Mint Mocha Musings @nicoledwebb

Chao’s Column

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Chao Huang | Mint Mocha Musings
When you get asked to be a bridesmaid in China you know you’re going to be under pressure!

Sure, there are fun parts, mostly the door games – the bridesmaids play a fun game with the groom and groomsmen before he’s allowed into the bride’s room.

It’s called called “Du Men” (door blocking) and originated in ancient China times when brides were sent away to live with the husband’s family. The idea is, it demonstrates how lovely the bride is and that her family and friends don’t want to marry her off!  The groom is blocked at the bride’s bedroom door and her friends try to stop him from entering by asking questions and playing games — a way to test if he is determined to marry the woman he loves. 

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This good-natured fun part is possibly the highlight of the day for the bridesmaid (and the most rewarding)!  😉  The groom normally tries to ‘buy his way in’ by giving  “Hong Bao” (lucky red envelopes with money inside) to the bridesmaids.

I’ve been a bridesmaid once and the bride banned any kind of ‘Naohun’ which literally means “disturbing a marriage”– a longstanding practice since the days of the Han Dynasty. My five year old brother, however was sent to roll around on the newlywed’s bed! Young boys bring good luck! 

Of course being a bridesmaid isn’t all doom and gloom. There’s witnessing a beautiful day and watching your best friend tie the knot with her loved one! But there’s also a sinister side to playing the role of bridesmaid. It usually involves drinking and often, getting drunk on the bride’s behalf. 

To remain beautiful on her most special day, the bride isn’t supposed to drink much at her wedding, yet it’s customary for the newlyweds to toast every single table of guests, more often than not with shots of Baijiu (if you don’t know about the famous Chinese liquor, check out MMM’s post China’s Genie in a Bottle). It’s hardcore!

Thus, the bridesmaid has the task of drinking the bride’s share, not to mention putting up with the pressure of the traditional flirting that goes with the job and sometimes inappropriate physical contact!

Just last month, a 28-year-old bridesmaid died after she was pressured by men at her table to drink excessive amounts of Baijiu.

Video emerged on the net of her in a black bridesmaid’s dress binge drinking the potent liquor during her friend’s wedding, while men’s teasing echoed in the background. It stirred up a frenzy of anger amongst Weibo users (China’s version of Twitter). 

Enraged netizens were up in arms, particularly at video circulating of the unconscious woman being pushed in a hotel trolley, who was confirmed dead soon after arriving at the hospital.

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Earlier this year, a Chinese TV host and actress was shown being harassed while she was a bridesmaid at her celeb friend’s wedding. A video showed her being grabbed by the arms and legs by celebrity groomsmen, trying to throw her into the pool, ignoring her desperate pleas for them to stop. Her fellow bridesmaids had to come to her rescue.
The victim later posted a video on Weibo apologizing to the groom and his new wife (her good friends) for “creating confusion for him” which made internet users even more upset.

There’s no doubt millions of bridesmaids get tipsy at weddings the world over, but there’s concern for China’s bridal party customs that still seem steeped in ancient tradition. 

For thousands of years society has deemed that rich families provide young, single maids as part of the bride’s dowry.

If the wife was unable to conceive after the marriage, she could preserve her position in the family by getting her maid to bear children on her behalf. Known as a “Concubine” she was supposed to be loyal to the man’s wife and not compete with her for attention or threaten her position.

During years of development and through absorbing western weddings, things have obviously changed. Different cities in china have different rituals surrounding the big day, but still, in general, part of the protective function that bridesmaids used to have, remains. 

Chinese wedding

Bridesmaids in China are not supposed to be married/divorced or pregnant, and ideally shouldn’t have served as a bridesmaid too many times (this can be a bad luck for her). So “27 Dresses” it won’t be!

The physical beauty and number of bridesmaids in a wedding party are often seen as a sign of power and “face” for the families involved in the marriage. 

But now, the increasing number of scandals breaking on the net about the pressure bridesmaids face and its negative reputation have scared brides away from choosing close friends or relatives to stand by their side on the big day. 

As a result, business in China is booming for professional bridesmaids! Tough and experienced at handling unwanted embarrassments, and at an affordable price (around US$100) – as surreal as it sounds, it can solve many wedding day problems! 

Simply look online and hire your own flower-carrying, baijiu-swilling, beautiful bridesmaid! 

Who cares if on the biggest day of your life, your bridesmaids are ‘fake’ friends.

After all, this is China.

bridesmaids-in-china-for-hire

For more on Chinese weddings… check out these MMM posts:

Grab Your Hong Bao: You’re Invited to a Wedding in China

Wedding Crashers in China


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