Chinese Weddings

Need Advice: Future-In-Laws Coming to US Wedding From China...

Hi ladies,

I am having a destination wedding in Las Vegas. My fiance's father and mother-in-law will be flying in for the wedding from China. I'm so excited because I've been to China twice and they are wonderful people and we got along well (except for the language barrier.. I'm American, only speak English :P), they already treat me like their own daughter, and this is their first time coming to the US.

So where it gets a little crazy is here- our wedding is on July 9th, and they are coming to stay with us here in Dallas for 3 months! (they are planning to get here May 20, and stay well past the wedding.) This stresses me out a little because I am the sole income right now so I work alot, and I'm trying to get all the wedding details together, but then I also have to worry about making sure they stay entertained while here.

Where I really need help is:

1) What type of gifts would you recommend I have for them when they come to the US? (every time I went to China they showered me with gifts.. but I don't know where to start- it seems everything here in US is made in China :P)

2) How can I be sure they are comfortable during their stay? Should I get a Chinese newspaper delivered to our house weekly/daily? Should I call my cable company to see if I can order Chinese cable channels?

3) Should I really be stressed about keeping them entertained? I've heard that in the Chinese family tradition, the parents are just worried about taking care of their kids so while they are here I will probably never have to worry about cooking or cleaning. That kind of makes me feel weird though considering I've been self-reliant since I was 15. :)

4) How would you manage the stress?

Thanks for listening, any encourage words? I really appreciate it! I really want them to enjoy their trip, I want it to be a great experience for them (wedding and all), but I also want to maintain my sanity before/during my wedding.

Re: Need Advice: Future-In-Laws Coming to US Wedding From China...

  • will47will47 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Here's my $0.02 - hope it's helpful in some way. Sorry if there are stereotypes here, but obviously I don't know your FILs. I assume you've talked to your FI about his ideas? Presumably he knows his family much better than we do.

    Some gift ideas that might work. My guess is that they'll be more concerned with things to bring back for family (which they may be able to help shop for) than with getting gifts for themselves - a few token gifts should probably be more than enough (if they're meeting your folks, maybe your folks could give them some gifts, though?):
    * American ginseng
    * Packaged cookies -- dry, buttery but not too sweet. Walkers Shortbread, that kind of thing
    * Consumer electronics (iPad, etc.)
    * Name brand clothes / accessories
    * Nuts
    If they (or relatives) drink:
    * Red wine (growing in popularity in China, though possibly a pain to bring back)
    * Good cognac

    Since you've been to China, you probably have experienced first hand the kind of hospitality that's usually extended to visiting family. So since they're on your turf now, that probably means you'll make sure they're entertained at all times, pay for everything as much as possible, etc. I don't know how adventurous they are as far as eating different types of food, but try not to push their culinary boundaries beyond what they're comfortable with, and try to find some places with food that will mesh with their palates.

    Getting Chinese TV is a great idea - either through the cable company, or by getting one of these internet-connected devices designed to get a whole lot of Chinese channels... I forget the brand name. Newspaper is also a good idea. Just make sure that the newspaper is one they'll be able to read (i.e., not traditional characters if they can't read them) and which they won't have political issues with. Get them at least one pre-paid mobile phone before they arrive.

    A hot water dispenser and rice cooker might be good things to get if you don't already have them, and if they're going to be cooking, take them to the Chinese market early on to pick up sauces etc. that you may not already have.

    If they're social and / or tend to like group tours, sending them with a Chinese tour group for a few days - this would give them a chance to see parts of the country you might not have time to take them to, and they'll have other people to talk to. Seems impersonal to me, but a lot of Chinese folks just can't get enough of tour groups (several Chinese students I know from where I work have shipped their folks off on these for days at a time). The delicate part will be figuring out if this is something they'd actually enjoy.

    If you have time to do some travel with them, that would probably also be great -- national parks, big cities, etc.

    Is there other family here in the US that can help entertain them as it gets close to the date of the actual wedding?

    As far as managing the stress... well, hate to say it, but it's probably going to be tough, especially with all the other stuff going on. I guess an obvious suggestion, but try and get some occasional time for yourself (as well as for your fiancé, who I imagine may be spending some of his time translating, which can really wear on someone). Good luck.
    my read shelf:
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  • edited December 2011
    Thanks for your help, you've brought up some things that I never thought of. I'm also going to try to learn some of the basic chinese phrases and words since they will be with us for so long. :)
  • will47will47 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_chinese-weddings_need-advice-future-laws-coming-wedding-china?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:397Discussion:3d591b59-2fa7-4c15-8a8a-04cddd98c034Post:2c1acc9a-c161-4a2a-adac-21f9c38ce6e0">Re: Need Advice: Future-In-Laws Coming to US Wedding From China...</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm also going to try to learn some of the basic chinese phrases and words since they will be with us for so long. :)
    Posted by dbonjion[/QUOTE]

    I think they would probably appreciate the effort. I can speak and understand a little, but kind of at the level of a stupid two year old. FI's parents have lived here for 20 years, so their English is a lot better than my Mandarin.

    Do they speak Mandarin with him, or another language?
    my read shelf:
    William's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
  • edited December 2011
    Its Mandarin. I like the way you refer to your language level as a stupid 2 year old. :) Thats about what mine is at lol!

    They do not speak any english so that is why I'm trying to get a better grasp on it. :)
  • will47will47 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    If you've got time, one thing you could try would be to see if you can set up language exchange with a local student who's a native speaker, and take any chance you get to practice (the area I live in is very heavily Chinese, so I get a lot of opportunities, though most of them involve ordering food or buying things). Of course, there are also more traditional routes like classes at a local college (preferably focused on communication rather than reading / writing), software like Rosetta Stone, online podcasts like the ones at chinesepod.com. And of course, sounds like you're about to get plenty of listening practice.

    I haven't found it to help as much as I would have hoped, but you can also try watching dramas in Mandarin (with or without subtitles) - I think crunchyroll has some that you can stream online.

    I think your future in-laws will appreciate the effort (luckily or unluckily, the bar for foreigners' Chinese is pretty low; most people will claim to be impressed with the most minor success), and even some basic words and expressions will help a lot. If you're going to be spending time with them alone, getting them a portable translation device (with menus in Chinese) and something equivalent for you (iphone translator, separate device, or whatever) might be really helpful too.

    My fiancée's aunt is going to be coming out for about a month surrounding our wedding (1 week before and 3 after); luckily, she'll be staying with my FILs, but given how hospitable the extended family was to us in China, we want to do our best to be good hosts.
    my read shelf:
    William's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
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