You finally found her; your dream Chinese woman. The love of your life. The next step is both exciting and terrifying. Exciting, because it’s your dream come true; terrifying, because you’re not sure how her parents will accept you. Your Chinese girlfriend is very open-minded, but she’s also still a very filial daughter; when proposing to her, you have to remember that the approval of her parents is of the utmost importance to your woman.
Her parents still come from an older generation of Chinese that may still place a higher value on arranged marriages and, perhaps, not a lot on romantic love. This means while your proposal may be as romantic as you can make it, and even after your girlfriend has happily accepted it, the real success of your proposal will still depend on her parents’ acceptance of you.
More likely than not, the first time you will meet your now-fiancee’s parents will be when you formally ask for her hand in marriage. You may have made your proposal to your girlfriend traditionally western in nature with your creativity, but the proposal you will be making to her parents will have to be traditionally Chinese.
Usually, a formal Chinese engagement is carried out with a visit from the man and his family to the girl and her family. The date of the visit is carefully chosen with the use of feng shui. A dowry is given – the exact amount and other gifts are often determined by the girl’s parents. And then both parties agree to a wedding date, which is usually set within a year of the engagement.
Ideally, the first time your girlfriend’s parents will meet you will not also be the first time that they’ll find out about you! In any case, the fact that their daughter is dating a foreigner often means that they won’t be expecting your “engagement visit,” or proposal for an engagement, to strictly follow Chinese customs.
All the same, you should do everything you can to follow some of their traditional engagement practices. This will definitely earn you a lot of points with her parents, and hopefully help you win their approval.
So when you finally meet the parents, bring them some gifts. Ask your fiancée what they will most appreciate, the traditional ones and those that also represent your own culture; they will appreciate your sincere efforts in adopting some Chinese customs, as well as the unique, foreign gifts.
Traditionally, the man offers the woman a piece or a few pieces of jewelry, not necessarily an engagement ring, but these still symbolize the official engagement. Having already given your fiancée her jewelry gift/engagement ring, you should initiate the talk about your intentions with her parents.
Sometimes, they will start the conversation themselves with questions about your motivations, plans, goals, and background. So when you start the conversation yourself, and if they don’t ask you any questions at all, this information should be offered by you.
The most important thing that any parent will want to know is that their daughter is loved and will be well taken care of. This is exactly where you should start your proposal speech, but first thank them for their hospitality. Let them know how you feel about their daughter, that they have no need to worry about her well-being and her future, and your intention to marry her. Normally, you will address her parents as “Uncle” and “Aunt.”
Offer them information about your job/career, your plans for the future for after you’re married. Mostly, knowing that you are hardworking, have a stable job, and have the right priorities will be enough to reassure them that their daughter and future grandchildren’s future will be secure.
And then let them know what date you and your fiancée have decided on for the wedding. Again, it will be best if you follow Chinese customs and, with your fiancée, determine an auspicious wedding date using feng shui. Or you can even wait until the meeting with her parents so that you can have them participate in the choosing of the wedding date.
In case you and your fiancée have decided not to schedule a wedding right away because both of you feel that you are not yet ready/stable enough to start a family, you must also explain this to your future in-laws. While they may feel that the wedding should happen as soon as possible, they will also appreciate your practical wisdom.
As long as they can see the sincerity of your intentions and how much you truly love their daughter and your genuine desire to take care of her, your Chinese love’s parents will have no reason not to give the two of you their blessing.