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Certain types are food are traditionally served at a Chinese wedding banquet to symbolize the Yin and Yang elements of the joining of a man and woman in marriage.  The menu items are carefully thought out to convey meanings such as happiness, longevity, and fertility.  The number of dishes usually served (not including dessert) is an even number to represent the new "pairing" of the bridal couple.  There is always plenty of food at a Chinese banquet and it is quite customary for waiters to pass out take-out boxes for guests to take extra food home.  Having plenty of food symbolizes prosperity for the newlyweds.

 

In a Chinese marriage, the dragon represents the male while the phoenix is the female.  The feast begins with the "dragon phoenix plate" - cold plates which include suckling pig, various sliced meats, and jellyfish served chilled.  Suckling pig is served as a symbol of the bride's purity.  The groom also customarily presents a whole roasted pig to the bride's family at the engagement party.

 

Soup usually follows the appetizers.  The type of soup has some significance: for example, shark's fin soup is often served as this expensive delicacy is a sign of affluence.

 

This is followed by two hot appetizer dishes.  These hot appetizer dishes usually include different types of seafood.  Deep fried crab claws are commonly served as they are served as round balls which signify unity. 

 

A lobster dish is often served as a main entree.  Lobster is literally translated in Chinese as "dragon shrimp."  This dish is served with the legs and head intact to represent completeness (the same holds true of the fish and chicken dish). Chicken, which also means phoenix, is fried to a crispy red colour to convey happiness and the wish for a flourishing life ahead for the newlyweds.  Having lobster and chicken together at the wedding banquet indicates that the dragon (groom) and the phoenix (bride) are harmonious together and that the Yin and Yang elements of the newly formed family are balanced.

 

Often vegetables are served with sea cucumber to represent selflessness.  The words for sea cucumber in Chinese sound like "good heart" which it thought to help the new couple think similarly and to avoid conflict.  Fish sounds like "plentiful" in Chinese so serving fish gives hope for the newlyweds to experience a life of prosperity.

 

Honeymoon fried rice again symbolizes the balance of Yin and Yang (as seen by the two differently flavoured rice dishes served in one platter).  The final pasta dish, with its long noodles, is served at the end of the meal and represents longevity.

 

A sweet dessert item is served to ensure that the new couple has a sweet life.  Lotus seeds or paste commonly used in the dessert signify fertility for the bridal couple.

 

Even the beverages hold some meaning.  Carbonated beverages such as 7-Up, which sounds like "seven happiness" in Chinese, are served along with tea and alcohol.

 

See the: Dinner Menu.