Singaporebrides | Fine Dining

May 2013

The Meaning Behind Your Wedding Banquet Dishes

If you’ve attended your fair share of wedding banquets, you’ll know that every Chinese wedding banquet consists at least an eight-course dinner. You probably also noticed that certain dishes are always served during a Chinese wedding. We’ve found out the significance behind these dishes so if you want to load up your menu with auspicious blessings, you can make an informed selection.

Each and every dish served at a Chinese wedding banquet is carefully selected for its meaning. These dishes often symbolise blessings of happiness, prosperity, longevity or fertility for the couple and their marriage. With the help of Mandarin Oriental, Singapore and Peach Garden at Hotel Miramar, we’ve compiled a friendly list of commonly seen wedding banquet dishes and the blessings they carry for the couple and their marriage.

Lobster and Chicken Feet

Lobster and chicken feet are commonly served during the cold appetizer dish along with other sliced meat and jellyfish to represent the Yin and Yang aspects of a marriage. Traditionally, the bride (the Yin) is represented by a phoenix and the groom (the Yang) is represented by a dragon in a Chinese marriage. And since lobster translates literally to “dragon shrimp” while chicken feet is commonly referred to as “phoenix feet” in Mandarin, these two are often included in a Chinese wedding banquet as a representation of the bride and groom.


WeddingBanquetDishes Wok Fried Scallops with Asparagus in XO Sauce (酱 爆 带 子 炒 芦 笋)

Because the Chinese pronunciation of scallops is a homophone for the phrase “raising children”, the inclusion of scallops into a wedding banquet menu is a symbol of fertility – of blessing the couple with plenty of children.

Abalone and Sea Cucumber

In Mandarin, abalone is pronounced similarly as the word “abundance” while sea cucumber is a homophone for “good heart” in Cantonese. Thus, the inclusion of these ingredients in a wedding banquet dish is symbolic of blessing the couple with yearly abundance and a reminder to the couple to keep a good heart to avoid conflicts. The use of abalone and sea cucumber is also representative of a smooth sailing relationship between the couple and their family.

Roasted Duck

WeddingBanquetDishes1 Roasted Whole Duck with House Special Sauce (金 炉 一 品 明 火 鸭)

In Chinese culture, ducks are a symbol of fidelity and when served whole, represent peace, unity and completeness in a couple’s marriage. Serving a whole roasted duck at a wedding also represents happiness and good tidings, since the Chinese culture consider red to be a colour of good luck.


A common Asian staple, noodles have long been symbols of longevity in Chinese culture because they come in long strands. So the inclusion of noodles in a wedding banquet menu is symbolic of blessing the couple with a long and happy marriage and life together.


WeddingBanquetDishes2 Steamed Garoupa with Superior Soya Sauce (清 蒸 原 条 大 石 斑)

Fish also has a similar pronunciation as the word “abundance” in Chinese and is always included in a wedding banquet menu to represent abundance in the couple’s marriage. A fish served whole with its head and tail intact also symbolises that the couple’s marriage will come to a successful completion.


Dessert is not just a dish served to signal an end of a meal. In a Chinese wedding banquet, a sweet dessert is usually served as a symbol of a sweet marriage for the couple. The type of dessert served also has a meaning to it. Yam pudding is symbolic of fertility and growth as represented by the beans, seeds and ginko nuts used.

Aside from the type of dishes served, the number of dishes served during a Chinese wedding banquet is also symbolic. The number eight is regarded as a lucky number to the Chinese and Cantonese-speaking Asians because the pronunciations of the number in Chinese and Cantonese sounds like the word “prosper”. Thus, you’ll often find that a Chinese wedding banquet consists of eight courses, excluding the last dish of dessert, to bring luck to the couple and their marriage. Pair this knowledge with our guide on choosing a wedding banquet package and how to select a wedding banquet venue for the perfect wedding you’ve always dreamt of.

Image credit: Mandarin Oriental, Singapore