If you ask westerners, who have been to Chinese weddings, about their experiences, the feedbacks will probably be something like this
The wedding was great, except for the smoking!
Yet, smoking in a Chinese wedding in mainland China is still ubiquitous. Traditionally, although not sure from when, the bride is supposed to light up cigarettes for the elder guests and the groom makes the toast when they greet the guests. This cultural mores may be great for the smokers but can be horror experiences for non-smokers like me.
What’s more is that the children and women who do not smoke are not aware the harm of secondhand smoke in China, or they are inure to this environment, like the heavily polluted air.
Over the last a few weeks, I have tried very hard to push and convince my parents to put off the cigarettes at my wedding reception in China, and I have encountered numerous obstacles.
“The guests will think you are penny-pinching”, “ungenerous”, one of my friends advised.
“Do in Rome as Rome does (入乡随俗)”, Another one of my relatives suggested.
However, it is my belief that this kind of social mores in China are not necessary to be followed. One day, hopefully, not far from now, people will recognise that tobacco is harmful and should not be part of social occasions and gift-giving.
An image from Shanghai government website