It goes without saying that couples always want their weddings to be unique, and look for novel ideas to make their celebration on the big day more memorable.
Yet, weddings are not just about the couple; they are also about the families and friends who will support them throughout their married life. So bringing everyone together to eat, drink and toast to the couple has always been central to the big day.
In some cases, the wedding banquet may not be on the same day as the wedding itself. In China, for example, the wedding takes place on a chosen auspicious day, while the banquet depends on the availability of the hotel or restaurant. However, many Chinese banquets offer an auspicious number of dishes such as in a 8-course or 10-course luncheon or dinner.
Each dish of the 8 courses served may symbolise happiness, prosperity, long life or fertility – well wishes for the couple in their marriage. But there is room for innovation, too. For instance, the Mandarin word for scallops, dai zi, sounds like the phrase ‘raising children’ so they are always a key ingredient on the menu; but how they are prepared and presented is up to the creativity of the chef.
Weddings are a big source of income for hotels; since many couples and their parents want to impress their guests during such occasions, the food served by the hotel is essential. It’s not just the food that matters, but mian zi (face) too, so many opt for four- and five-star hotels to hold their banquets.
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 offer a range of food options, or allow the couple to personalise their big day with special menu requests.
Event planner Wedding Bliss Thailand notes some trends for 2016: fewer sit-down dinners and more canapés and buffets, live cooking stations for a bit of drama, and livelier flavours for wedding cakes such as salted caramel and chai latte.
Elsewhere in Asia, well-to-do couples are looking overseas 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 some couples can spend 20 times that amount.
Few can expect anything so lavish; but that doesn’t make even the most modest weddings any less special for the bride and groom.