Our Engagement Dinner in China

Last year I had written already about our two weddings, one in China and one in Finland. However I kind of forgot to do so about our engagement dinner which was back in 2011.  This dinner was also the reason why my parents had their first trip to China. My old people stayed for a bit over a week in China and the engagement dinner was towards the end of their holiday. By then they had already eaten all kind of Chinese food and actually survived. My mother however was a bit more difficult with the food but this is an everyday problem with her even when traveling through her home country.

My dad, granny and MIL. My dad and granny are actually the same age…


It was a usual July day; hot, smog and high humidity resulting that you start to break into perspiration the second you leave a room with air-condition. For the dinner the closest relatives of my wife had been invited such as her aunt, uncle with his family, crazy granny and  godmother and godfather. From my family only my parents had come as it would be just impossible to get my brother ever to China. It was already challenging enough to get him to our wedding in Finland! As for the location we had chosen a bit more fancy restaurant in which we were invited few weeks prior by FIL’s retired boss. I liked the food there, the restaurant looked rather good so we decided on it/ my in-laws decided on it.

We got one of the private rooms with a table big enough for us all. I can not remember all the different dishes anymore but I do remember that we had camel. Even my mother tried some camel but only because we didn’t tell her what meat that was…as I said before, it is difficult to go eating with my mother. But MIL took pretty good care that my mom had enough on her plate, always enough, as she continuously filled up my mothers plate with food, and my mom ate everything. You see this is how I was also raised, always finish everything on your plate and this is also the only reason why she was eating and eating and eating. By the way, always eating up everything was also the reason why I gained in those five weeks in China around 8 kg. I learned from this experience and never ever finish up everything anymore when being in China!

Group picture and who is missing? Of course FIL as he is taking the photo


We had no real celebration or ceremony for this engagement, just eating, receiving few gifts and then everybody went stuffed with food back home. Actually it was similar to our wedding in China, just on a much smaller scale and without all the booze and smokes. My parents paid for the dinner as a “present” as my in-laws were paying later on our Chinese wedding. However many of those great friends of MIL thought that my parents were too cheap because the dinner was apparently not expensive enough for their taste, they had expected some fancy gift, such as a car or similar, oh well, can’t please them all.


Did you have an engagement dinner with the family or just celebrated together?

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32 thoughts on “Our Engagement Dinner in China”

  1. You had camel meat?? That must be quite of an experience!

    Anyway, how awful of MIL’s friends to judge your parents for “only” paying for dinner! Like splurging for your son’s wedding was a must! That is one of the sides of Chinese mindset I don’t enjoy: spending money is NOT synonym of caring!

    1. I actually do not even remember of the camel meat tate…

      I also do not like this kind of Chinese mindset, it is just so narrow. I just don’t understand what the sense is to invite so many people and pay tons of money for weddings., just that the eldery can brag about who had the best wedding/ wasted the most money=?

  2. The picture where the little one is holding on to your nose is hilarious! So funny! And wow, 8 kg! The funny thing is that my dad also gained 4 kg in 10 days, while they were attending our wedding in Taiwan, although he first was worried if he woild survive actually with all that strange and foreign food. You should know, that it is impolite that guests have empty plate (that means, you are poor and didn’t prepare enough food to feed your guest properly). So you MIL is obliged to refill the plates! The other thing is, if they ask you if you want more to eat, you are supposed to say, no, thank you, then they are supposed to ask you again and again (I heard polite is to ask about at least 10 times), to really make sure, the guest us happily full. This creates, the other way around in Germany, a problem: you ask the Chinese guest: you’d like to eat more? They politely refuse, expecting you to ask again and again, but we Germans only ask once, and the poor Chinese guest goes home hungrily. 🙂

    1. It is always complicated to combine different cultures but so far it worked out well. I knew about the stuff beforehand but my wife said that she never even heard about not leaving the plate empty etc. I think it is more common with the older generations and people who are focused more on keeping face

  3. Thank you for sharing such intimate pictures. It really helps to see all the players involved, including yourself! 😀 By the way, I’ve been meaning to say MIL is pretty and she looks pretty damn young, too. Just sayin….

    1. I think MIL is around 53 or 54 now. In the past decade she has been doing…nothing, just dancing, eating, sleeping and shopping. I ink when I have such relaxed life it will make my eye circles also disappear:)

  4. The only people you need to please is your wife. As for the rest of the relatives, they can go fly their own kites.

    And you are right, when you are eating with Chinese, you must not finish all the food, because finishing the food does not mean politeness here, it means “you are not full yet, you have not had enough to eat, I must stuff you with more food or else I am a bad host!” 😀

  5. My husband and I didn’t have an engagement dinner with family members, but rather we went to a fancy restaurant and had an awesome meal ourselves.

    In Taiwan, there is a tradition of giving engagement cookies to the bride’s side which we didn’t do either.

    It is sad that the price tag on things [in this case, the meal] determine how much some people care. Did MIL’s friends forget your parents flew all the way to China just to attend?

    1. Yes they forgot and probably do not really care. Most people here belief that all foreigner are super rich. Once they ask MIL why I didn’t buy them a new apartment and car yet…guess my pocket money isn’t big enough yet 🙂

      A dinner together in a fancy restaurant is also very great. Usually I prefer eating in peace together with my wife, no noisy chattering of other people/ relatives…

  6. You know, your MIL looks very young and skinny beside your dad and granny…in that photo it also looks like she is ready to demolish every single one of those bananas.

    I have never really heard of engagement parties or dinners, and I think it’s probably because of the company I keep – friends and people whom I know are very low key and not parties in general. A simple dinner with a few people is enough. Although I’m Chinese, I really am not a fan of weddings where there are few hundred guests. Don’t know why you would celebrate your big day with people you don’t know. Then again, the more people there are, the merrier and in Chinese culture, many people is better than few people or one single person alone.

    1. That’s why I preferred our wedding in Finland as there were all people we knew for many years already. It was also only half the size (when it comes to guests) compared to the Chinese one and thus we had a much better overview at all times )

      1. The thing about big parties or events is sometimes – or maybe a lot of the time – you can barely hear yourself talking and you have to shout. Or if you are like me who have a very soft voice, don’t say anything…

        My family has always joked that if I do get married, there will be big celebrations in Malaysia (my parents hometown) and in Australia…and all the extended Chinese relatives to fly to Australia for double the celebration.

  7. Did your mom know she was having camel? I’m really impressed that she actually ate everything. We had the same issue with my dad, who is a really fuzzy eater (eats nothing unless it’s Danish or German). In Korea he used to carry around a package of biscuits for emergency situations (such as visiting a noodle restaurant).

  8. It’s wonderful how many celebrations you have had for your marriage, how joyful 🙂 I love the nose-pulling pic.

  9. The importance of outward status (and consequently money) is completely outta control in Asia. People are judged so much on appearances, it’s really a big issue. Korea, has the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world, and believe me, many Chinese travel here, just to get the “Korean look.” I see them walking around Gangnam proudly with their bandages all the time. Very strange indeed…

  10. Funny about the weight gain after all that celebratory food. Your mother-in-law looks young. Oh, wait: she might be close to my age!

    1. My mother in law is 53 I believe :). But no worries, she got a good excuse as she had been a model for many years and the past decade she had been just doing her hobby dancing and shopping…

      1. She is still good-looking, crazy. Great she does her dancing (line-dancing, tango I presume?).

        I’m 56. I don’t mean to surprise.. I probably sound younger at times because I don’t have children and I have dropped shopping lots (outside of food) in the past 15 yrs. . Just a few nieces and nephews –ages 30 yrs. to 4 yrs. old.

      2. My mother in law is doing traditional Chinese dances with her group so it is a bit more complicated than some other dances but then again I am no expert.
        Not to have children is nothing too strange anymore these days I think. I know few friends of my mother (70+ years) who do not have any children but we’re able to enjoy their life to the fullest compared to other people with children who were ‘bound’ by them for at least twenty years. I guessed you age was about late forties beginning of fifties by the pictures of you and your partner:)

        By the way, excuse the possible weird writing mistakes and this apple product does funny things with its auto correct

  11. I’ve never tried camel meat before. I need to put that on my to do list! I don’t think my mother would ever fly on a plane…anywhere… That was so nice of your parents to fly out to China and pay for dinner. I’m not a fan about the whole money/expensive gift mindset either. How fancy/expensive does a dinner have to be to satisfy people? @_@ We all can’t be Oprah giving away cars lol

    1. I think they expect at least like 5k RMB per table, best would be of course 9.999RMB 🙂

      Some people just got weird ideas these days…

      The same applies to my brother when it comes to flying, it is nearly impossible and I think that he came to my wedding was the last time that he flew anywhere!

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