Before your Chinese girlfriend can become your wife, you will probably have to go through the process of meeting her family members. Though each family is different, there seems to be certain rituals in Chinese society that will be the same for all families. Meeting your future Chinese wife´s family will be a big step for both of you, so make sure you get it right and leave a great first impression.
The one very important thing you should know is that Chinese families will almost always hold all their celebrations around the dinner table. Food is very important in China and treating guests to a banquet is the Chinese way of welcoming them. This is also a great opportunity for you to socialize with your future in-laws and try to shorten some of the cultural difference that might exist between your world and theirs. Even if you cannot communicate with them verbally, there are a number of gestures you can do in order to demonstrate your gratitude and your respect towards them.
The number one thing is always to smile. Smiling is a universal gesture to demonstrate joy and friendship and it will be welcomed anywhere you go. Another important tip is to conceal any cultural shock you might suffer during the dinner. If you are a first timer in China and you are not familiar with the way Chinese people behave around the table, you will probably find yourself suffering many cultural shocks as the evening unfolds. Avoid starring and act as natural as you can while some people are burping, farting or spitting around you. Remember to never look down on people and everything you might consider rude, is just mere cultural difference. If you want to make your future Chinese wife happy, then you will have to be able to handle this; if you can´t, then you are better off staying at home.
It is very common to drink large amounts of alcohol during Chinese dinners and since the evening will be evolving around you, be prepared to toast several times with practically everyone around the table. If you are not a big drinker you may refuse politely and toast with water or tea, but they will like you much more if you engage in the alcohol frenzy with them. Be aware that some Chinese seniors drink some very strong liquor often surpassing 50° of alcohol. Independent from your drinking preferences and skills, you will have to offer a toast to some key people around the table. After the dinner begins, wait about 10 minutes and start offering a toast to the elderly (usually the grandparents) and wish them good health. Repeat this with your Chinese girlfriend´s parents, then uncles and so on. Drink your way from the eldest to the youngest family member with an interval between toasts. Use the time you are not drinking to feed your stomach as much food as you can, as it will help you endure the alcohol.
The main objective of your new Chinese family will be to make you eat and drink as much as possible. They will be very happy to know that you are enjoying yourself, so don´t forget to compliment the food whenever you see fit and don´t be shy to tell them you are full as soon as you feel that you can´t take in anymore food. Usually all the dishes will be placed in the center of the table, which might or might not be a rotating platform. If you cannot use chopsticks well, avoid embarrassment by asking your girlfriend to sit beside you and help you serve food from the table center.
Since the dinner table is the stage for most social events in China, you will buy yourself a great deal of advantage if you know how to use these events in order to sell your image to your new Chinese family. Showing your new Chinese family that you are familiar with their ways, will help them accept you despite of your cultural differences. Being polite and respectful to them will give them the assurance they need in order to entrust their little girl to you.