Posted by: sea2stars | October 20, 2010

Taiwanese Weddings

For my friends Ellen and Marie. I promised them this post a long time ago, it was my way to keep them reading my blog 😛

Taiwanese weddings are big and extravagant in a very different way than weddings in America are. They mostly involve food, tons and tons of food. Oh, and lots of dresses for the bride. I was fortunate enough to attend 2 wedding in Taiwan, my coworker Ellen and my friend Marie.

My coworker, Ellen, go married last October. I had just moved to Taiwan and didn’t really know her at the time but I decided that it might be my only chance to experience a Taiwanese wedding, so I got up the nerve and invited myself. I did receive a small box of cookies, so it wasn’t completely inappropriate to invite myself along.

What do cookies have to do with weddings? I’m glad you asked. A formal invitation to a wedding in Taiwan is done with a box of cookies. My roommate, Nick, got a full box while I got a small box of cookies, well, more like questionable crackers. They have a very different idea of what a cookie is here. Cookies here are more like slightly sweet crackers that often contain nuts, seeds, or other healthy things I’m unable to identify. Which is probably why we still had some left weeks after the wedding.

At a Taiwanese wedding you don’t give cards or presents you simply give a red envelope with money in it. This money goes to cover the cost of the wedding. They money in the red envelope has to be an even number and can’t have the number 4 in it, because 4 is an unlucky number in Taiwan. I gave 1600 (about 40 US) at both Ellen and Marie’s wedding. I was told that I could give less because I won’t get the money back. It is customary that you give the same amount back to someone at their wedding that they gave you.

As you enter the hall to the wedding there is usually a table full of wedding photos. They are taken prior to the wedding with lots of outfit changes and cool romantic spots around Taiwan. The couples always look like models and are absolutely beautiful. They also usually provide some sort of picture that you can take with you. At Ellen’s wedding she had bookmarks that you could take. At Morris and Marie’s wedding I got a wallet size photo of the couple. If I ever get married I might get pictures taken like this. I also know that this tradition extends into China as well, because when we were hiking the great wall there were three couples getting their pictures taken there.

Wedding in Taiwan are very elaborate. The bride wears three different dresses through the course of the wedding and you have about a 10 course meal. Their is a small ceremony, if you can actually call it that. To be legally married in Taiwan you have to get married at the court house first. Ellen was married to her husband for 3 months before they had the actual wedding.

The bride wears three different dresses throughout the wedding. The first one is to get “married” in. After the ceremony the bride slips away and puts on the next dress. She uses this dress to say great to all of her guests. The bride and groom and their parents go around to each table to introduce everyone to their guests. After introducing everyone around the table there is a small toast and they proceed to the next table. The third dress is to say goodbye and thank everyone who came by handing out small party favors. All the dresses are rented and traditionally one of the three dresses should be red for good luck, although some brides don’t follow this tradition anymore.

A small wedding in Taiwan would have at least 300 guest but most weddings have 500 or more. They invite everyone to their weddings, and I mean everyone they’ve ever had contact with. Weddings are usually in the afternoon. Guest sit around a large table that usually holds 10-12 people with a large lazy susan in the middle to help pass around the food. You literally have about a 10 course meal and many of the dishes have a symbolic meaning, so you usually see the same foods at weddings. The first dish is usually a traditional chicken soup (which I don’t like). This dish is to symbolize that you are going to make a home together because the word for chicken soup in Taiwanese (not mandarine) sounds like the word for home. They always serve some type of fish, because it symbolizes wealthy. It is customary to not eat the entire fish, showing that you are not greedy and welcome wealth into your life. They are also required to serves some sort of expensive food like lobster or a special type of fish, because the couple doesn’t want people to think that they are stingy. The dessert is always a traditional Taiwanese desert, like sweat peas, jello, sticky rice balls, or red beans (I know you are just dying to try some of those). The dessert means that the couple will live happily ever after and symbolizes them living sweetly together.

Ellen’s Wedding Food

Morris and Marie’s Wedding Food

The dinner usually last 3 to 4 hours and guest slowly file out. As you leave the bride and groom say goodbye and give you a small party favor of candy or something. At Marie and Morris’s wedding they also gave pink carnations to all the women because it was also mother’s day.



  1. thanks this was great information for my assingn ment miki

  2. Hi…good day..i received an invitation from taiwanese..i just want to know how much can i give…

    • I gave 1600 NT in a red envelope. I was told I could give less because it was unlikely that the she would ever attend my wedding, but I can’t remember what the minimum amount was.

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