Weddings are not just about the couple, they are also about the families and friends who will support them through their married life. As such, bringing everyone together to dine, drink and toast to the couple has always been a central aim of the big day.
In some countries, the banquet may not be held on the same day as the wedding itself. For instance, in China, the wedding takes place on a day chosen because it is auspicious, while the day of the banquet is a matter of when the hotel has availability.
During the banquet, each dish of the eight courses served symbolises something. It could be happiness, prosperity, long life or even fertility. But there is room for innovation too! For instance, the Mandarin word for scallops sounds like the phrase ‘raising children’ (dai zi), so they have become a key ingredient of the meal, but how they are presented is up to the creativity of the chef.
Weddings represent big revenues for hotels, and since many couples and their parents want to impress guests with the wedding banquet, the quality of food served by the hotel is extremely important. They want something that will blow their guests away and give them ‘face’ (mian zi), so many opt for four- and five-star hotels.
Singaporean website The Wedding Scoop says that 45% of a wedding budget goes to food. As a result, most large hotels offer wedding packages, which either provide a range of options to the couple, or allow them to personalise their big day menu with special requests.
Event planner Wedding Bliss Thailand notes some trends for 2016: fewer sit-down dinners and more canapés and buffets, on-site cooking stations for a bit of live action, and novel flavours in wedding cakes such as salted caramel and chai latte.
Elsewhere in Asia, wealthy couples are expanding abroad to look for their wedding packages. The Bangkok Post reported on an Indian couple who flew 200 guests to a beach resort in Thailand, spending US$140,000, although it is also possible for other couples to spend 20 times that amount.
Few can afford something so lavish, but that shouldn’t make even the most modest weddings any less special for the bride and groom.