From ceremonies laced with local culture to a Western-style fairy-tale occasion, Mandarin Oriental, Taipei can fix your big day in style
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The Ballroom at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei
The general rule for contemporary Taiwanese weddings tends to be the more extravagant the better, but traditionally they were a more temporal affair. Prospective engagements were typically arranged by the mothers of the families, who would seek validation for their selection from Yue Lao (the 'old man under the moon'), the matchmaking god from an ancient Tang Dynasty legend. As the story goes, if Yue Lao approved the match, he would tie man and woman together with a red thread to eternally bond even those who were once distant strangers or fearsome enemies. The gods would then be left to determine an auspicious date for the ceremony through a temple ritual involving the Eight Characters (the birth dates and times of the couple and their parents).
Chefs preparing a wedding menu
In the thriving, cosmopolitan city of Taipei, ancient customs like these have been swapped in favour of a more Western approach to matrimony, but some symbolism still persists, with brides often wearing a red dress (though she might change outfit a few times during the day), the colour traditionally associated with auspiciousness and good fortune. The invitations are usually red, too, illustrated with a dragon and phoenix (representing the balance of male and female power within Chinese culture) and almost always ornately inscribed with the Chinese character for happiness, xi (pronounced 'she'), or a pair of xi characters, meaning double happiness.
The Spa's outdoor pool
One of the most popular contemporary settings for those seeking to impress is Mandarin Oriental, Taipei. Aside from the spectacular function spaces – two sumptuous ballrooms and the more intimate Grand Salon on the eighth floor, with an exclusively designed bridal suite situated right next door – the appeal lies in the bespoke service that varies from fully planned packages to more gentle recommendations, merging traditional elements with modern touches to varying degrees. On the nine-course Royal Wedding menu, for example, marinated vinegar-cured jellyfish with black fungus salad and tang yuan, or glutinous rice balls (their roundness traditionally representing perfection), sit alongside familiar dishes such as slow-braised Australia Wagyu beef cheek and chocolate mousse.
A City Suite
The hotel's award-winning Spa specially caters to flustered brides-to-be and anxious grooms, offering a tranquil environment in which to prepare both mentally and physically for the big day. The Clarins beauty programme, including a youthful lift facial and refined waist targeted treatment, is particularly tempting, given that at Taiwanese celebrations the newly wed couple is photographed with every guest on their departure.
Best of all, a complimentary one-night honeymoon stay is on offer at the hotel. Surely there's no better start to married life?