And in fact, that's one of the forces behind the popularity of the Asian-themed wedding: how it turns things upside down. In fact, in a Chinese wedding, white is bad (it's the color of death), and red and black are good (they're the colors of luck and prosperity).
You might wonder whether brides that plan Asian-themed weddings are Asian themselves (or marrying someone who is). Sometimes! Surprisingly often, they aren't, and the choice is aesthetic.
Today's trends break down into two main types of Asian weddings: the Japanese or "Zen" style, which values simplicity and nature, and the more riotous Chinese style, which bristles with bright colors and shiny fabrics.
Although either choice may surprise your older guests, you may find a deep expression of personal values in an Asian-themed wedding. After all, the usual wedding is a type of pageant: the couple pretends to be royalty for a day, and lavishly entertains a large party -while racking up the debt.
But brides drawn to the Zen-style ceremony sometimes want to avoid the pageant, and simplify the ceremony (ironically, this can result in greater elegance for the price tag). This type of bride might read "voluntary simplicity" books, ponder the environment, enjoy an uncluttered house or apartment with a handful of Japanese accents (Shoji lanterns and screens, for example), or find herself attracted to natural materials. She might feel freed by a simpler wedding gown, and carry an unfussy bouquet of calla lilies. Her centerpieces might be lanterns surrounded by black and white stones. For favors, she might give out fortune cookies placed in take-out boxes and topped off with chopsticks.
Other brides find aspects of the western tradition stifling, so they mix up their ceremony with Chinese zest. This bride might dress her bridesmaids in glowing red (or slinky black) Cheongsams, dresses with high collars and slit sides. She'll hand them parasols instead of nosegays, and pass out chopsticks for their hair. Her own gown might be of gorgeous brocade in red, orange or gold. Perhaps she'll wrap up the ceremony with a butterfly release and hand out lucky bamboo stalks as wedding favors. This bride doesn't mind charting her own course in social affairs, and she loves the Chinese devotion to parents and children.
In either case, the Asian-themed wedding may be a great way to tie your ceremony to some very personal values. Perhaps the thought of one crossed your mind, but you thought you had to be Asian! Don't worry: Asian traditions and trends have gone deep into parts of American culture since the 1960s. So maybe it's time to ask yourself: which type of Asian bride are you?