Future in laws coming for the wedding

My Taiwanese fiance & I are getting married this Jan. in the Washington D.C. area and her parents of course are coming. I’ve met them before and we seem to get along ok considering I only speak a little Chinese and they only speak a little English. Anyway, I’m wondering what thier expectations will be for me and what I should expect from them.

A little background: My fiance has been in the states since '97. Her parents came for the first time last year when she got her doctorate. I met them then and we got along pretty well and they got to meet some of my family. I’ve also met a lot of their extended family that lives here and we get along pretty well, so I don’t anticipate there being any major problems. I’m really just wondering what I can do to make sure they have a good experience, as well as some of the what not to do’s.

Take them out for Chinese food for every meal except one - and make that a steak dinner (uh - assuming they’re not vegetarians…)

Take them to all the tourist spots, and take plenty of pics of them visitng those tourist spots, and lots of pics of them with their daughter. Get a couple of the nice ones framed if possible.

Buy them some gifts along the way. Ask your fiancee for help in this department.

As soon as you reasonably can, offer each some warmed, bottled water to drink, in a cup if at all possible (plastic will do).

Yeah, warm. (don’t worry about the steamy DC summer, and don’t worry if they turn you down - it’s the offer that will impress them most, I think)

They’d probably appreciate some clean, warmed, moist towels waiting on them in your car, for the trip out of the airport. This is likely the way the outbound airline treated them when they left CKS, and it would be very considerate of you to provide them this very civilized, very familiar service as a kind of cultural bridge into the USA (pack 'em in a diaper bag, which you and yers can probably use in the future and which your to-be in-laws probably won’t recognize as such)

Since your fiancee has been in the US since '97, she might think you a freak - but her parents will not.

Congratulations, and best of luck!

Also remember they are your parents now as well to be treat as someone from the generation above and not your equal.

Adopting little social and cultural cues to signify that they are from the generation above you while they are in town might make a good impression.

Little things like at a Chinese meal waiting for them to eat first from every dish. Pouring their tea cups before your own. Etc.

Their expection of you is that you have no clue to the social and cultural cues that make a good son-in-law.

If you really want to impress them give them a traditional Chinese dowery money for their daughter hand in a little red envelop. Then thank the mother profusely for raising such a good daughter for you to marry.

Absolutely. And make sure the bills are crisp hundreds - no old bills. Ask your wife about the correct amount. She’ll know how much is too much, and what numbers to stay away from…

Watch The Joy Luck Club and learn. :slight_smile:

Good luck.

:ponder: Hmmm… how much should this be?

I’m curious myself; what is the normal range and average for this? Does anyone know? Is it like the wedding ring rule that DeBeers would like to sucker you into, 2 months’ salary? Is it a nominal amount, merely symbolic, or is it a massive amount that one should save up for years?

How about asking your future wife what her parents are like and what would make them happy? Some can be very traditional and others are not. The thing about pouring hot tea, hot towel, Chinese meals and all that is fine and dandy but maybe they’re not into that at all. Maybe the Dad loves beer, and Mom likes shopping, and they’re more adventurous with their food and love a good steak? Whatever it is, just be respectful, polite and listen. It’s all about showing respect to the elders.

I guess the Diamond Ring rule would work, since diamond engagement rings are still an after thought in Taiwan.

You want to go with numbers with some 6 and 8 in them. 6 is a homonym for “unobstructed” and 8 is a homonym for “prosperity, wealth.” Stay away from 4 since that sounds like death.

In Taiwan for the most part there no real retirement plan. The one the government has a small one time pay out. Traditionally sons bear the majority of the financial burden to take care of the parents. Daughters are viewed an investments to be exchanged for the dowry when the daughters leaves the family and enters their new family.

It’s mostly symbolic, but if you are well to do and you only give $400, well that’s a serious faux pas.

Or you can try to be slick about it and give the in-laws an expensive bottle of wine and say

以酒為陪嫁之物 - Let the wine be the dowry

Get them liquored up and slip them a more reasonable amount for the dowry. :smiling_imp:

So… how much is a “reasonable” amount?

I agree with mlpgd. Nobody should know what your inlaws will expect more than their own daughter. It’s best to ask her. You have this going for you: Whether her parents are intractably traditional or amazingly open-minded, they will definitely expect you and your own culture to be very different from what they’re used to. Be prepared to have your fiancee smooth away any misunderstandings.

The Chinese are a very social lot, and if, say, you’re on an outing or even in your home and you go and get a snack for yourself (very normal and accepted in the West), it’s considered rude if you don’t offer something to the others.

In my experience, most Chinese are not very adventurous when it comes to new foods. This is why Chinese tour groups in other countries tend to still eat at Chinese restaurants. So, as another poster stated, it would be appreciated if you could provide them with Chinese food at first, and then later try succesting something different once they’ve settled in.

Also as stated above, always pour tea in other people’s cups - eldest first - before you pour your own.

You will be expected to show them around: a visit to tourist attractions, shopping for souvenirs, a short hike to a waterfall, etc. And you will be taking photos of various family members standing in various permutations in front of famous tourist sites. If you take a picture without a person in it, they might be puzzled.

As the host, it is your position to pay most of the time. They may very well pay at some point, but do not let this take place until near the end of their visit. If they do offer to pay, refuse their offer at least three times. If they continue to insist, accept their offer grudgingly and promise to treat the next time.

When drinking alcohol at a sit-down meal (including beer), always offer a toast to the others before taking a sip. If you want to really impress them, open up a bottle of XO cognac or expensive scotch.

Try to initiate a toast (“jing4 jiu3” in Mandarin) to your future parents-in-law at some point early in each sit-down meal. Your fiancee should be able to show you how to carry out such a toast. Example: “I’d like to make a toast to you, my future parents in law.” Lift your cup with both hands and hold it up to each of them. They’ll do the same. Then drink, then hold your cup up again with both hands. It’s considered the highest respect if you drain your glass and show them the empty glass, but this might lead to more glass-draining! Glasses are not clinked in customary Chinese toasts.

After the wedding, you will be part of the family. You will be expected to call your parents “Mama” and “Baba” or whatever colloquial equivalent they prefer. Do not use their names. (Actually, I don’t even know the real names of most of my wife’s relatives!) You can address your fiancee’s siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews etc. by their names, but not anyone on the older generation, whom you address using the complex relationship terminology that can confuse even the Chinese! Examples: “2nd maternal uncle” or “husband of eldest paternal aunt”!

No idea about the money - dowries, brideprices, etc. I’ve never had to worry about it. I got married in Taiwan, and all details about the wedding plans were handled by my now mother-in-law. I had no say at all, so I just sat back and let her do all the work.

Hope this helps.

So… how much is a “reasonable” amount?[/quote]

1/3 of what is asked or agreed upon. :smiling_imp:

Remember they must be liquored up and having a good time to pull this off.

So what type of liquor would be appropriate? Rice wine? Or should I let them try something more American like, say, Jack Daniels?

Oh, by the way, of course I have asked my fiance about all these things. She’s helpful, but since she naturally goes into “Chinese mode” when she’s around her older relatives there’s a lot of things that she doesn’t really ever think about and forgets to tell me. When we’re around her uncles and aunts here its no big deal since they’re used to Americans, but with her parents some of those things might be a bigger deal and I’d hate to mess something up. Anyway, thanks for all the responses.

You should start with a champange or a wine.
Depends on their taste.

I would go with a

1999 DominusNapa Valley lheirtion Marneix
2001 Sterling VineyardsThree PalmsNapa Valley Merlot

These are good merlots so they go down pretty smooth.

Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial is a dessert style champagne is also good to entices people to drink more than they should.

Then you can hit them up with the Jack Daniels and Sake.

If they are sake fans then you might want to get a Honjozo sake. Also a mild, soft, sweet sake to ensure the drinking goes on all night long.

There is a traditional Chinese wine for marriage which is Huadiao jiu (花雕酒).

As drinking culture usually dictates, you start off with the good stuff first. After a few rounds it doesn’t matter what you’re drinking anymore. :smiling_imp:

You should of course check if her parents are fond of drinking. Or you could be just building up your tolerance for the wedding banquet, where the bride and groom is obligated to toast every guess in the traditional walk through. :smiling_imp: