I’m a bit confused. I have heard of Taiwanese getting locked into marriage in the same way. They hadn’t yet registered but had a wedding banquet and were considered married by a court of law in Taiwan. They later got divorced.
The original poster, on the other hand, started out by saying that he had an engagement banquet, not a wedding banquet. The two are not the same. Abram, what exactly did everyone call your Taiwan banquet? A lot of people have engagement banquets in Taiwan, HK and China. They are usually small affairs that only involve family and a few close friends. They could be informal; they often serve as a planning meeting for the wedding banquet that comes later. Or they could be more formal, but such banquets seem quite rare. No matter what, though, they are nothing like what would be recognized as a “real” wedding banquet. The latter is full of rituals. The former is just a dinner.
Were you told that this banquet was an engagement banquet? If so, I see no reason why a court would decide that you are married. What exactly happened at this banquet? Practices vary, but most wedding banquets follow similar customs and rituals. Were red envelopes received? Was candy, etc., handed out at the door as guests left? How was the venue decorated? Are there witness who are attesting that it was a “wedding banquet” or a banquet to recognize a wedding? What are they offering as “proof?” If they have none, then any chump who happened to get roped into any sort of banquet with his girlfriend could be told later that he had married her.
This thread highlights what to me is a peculiar attitude that Chinese societies have about marriage and weddings. What’s the average “engagement” period for any Taiwanese people you know? For the couples I know, if they actually had an engagement period, it was usually damn short. Most of them registered before they had the banquet. At first that seemed really strange to me. It seems to me that Chinese people don’t really recognize “engagement.” You’re either married or you’re not. As soon as you make public your intention to get married, you are much more locked into it than in the west. Many parents seem to have the attitude that once the couple have made their intentions known and the parents have agreed, they shouldn’t delay on registration. They don’t want anybody to have a chance to get cold feet.
Chinese weddings seem rather anti-climactic to me. Most couples, especially Taiwanese couples, do all the photos before the wedding. It seems that most Taiwanese couples “register” (which means they are legally married) before-sometimes long before-the day of their wedding banquet. The wedding banquet itself and the hours preceeding it are full of small, superstitious rituals that on their own or all together serve no function to “certify” the marriage. Unlike the Christian, Jewish or Hindu weddings I’ve seen, there is no “moment of truth” when the man and woman are given one last chance to back out. There is no “transformative” moment where just one minute before the couple were seen as single, but one minute later are considered a new family.
I’m quite glad that both my wife and I are Christians. That statement has little to do with actual religious beliefs. To us, our church wedding had meaning. We were single one minute and married the next. There was a clear-cut ceremony with a climax. Rather than having silly games with a blindfold or everyone’s attention focused on the quality of the shark fin soup, the meaning of marriage was explained and everyone’s attention was focused on marriage. It was solemn. The Chinese wedding, on the other hand, had little meaning for us. Despite the expensive food and liquor and the red envelopes, it actually felt kind of cheap and trashy. Even though my wife is Chinese, she felt the same way. It wasn’t just our banquet, either. We’ve had the same feeling at just about every other wedding banquet we’ve attended. This is obviously quite judgemental of us. After a while, we just started reminding ourselves to not think about it so much. If the banquet really means something to the people getting married, then great. I wonder, though, if such banquets really do mean much to the people getting married. From the looks I’ve seen on many of the faces of Taiwanese couples at their wedding banquets, I’m left with doubts about how meaningful the banquet really is for them.
These are obviously just my own views. There are plenty of us here who’ve married Taiwanese or Chinese people. How did you feel about your wedding(s)?