Thanksgiving Is the Single Most Popular Day For Immigrants in NYC’s Chinatown To Get Married

Thanksgiving is a time when most Americans gather together with friends and family to give thanks and share a meal. For new immigrants to New York City’s Chinatown, the day’s activities are similar, but for an entirely different reason. Thanksgiving has become Chinatown’s unofficial wedding day. It’s the one time of year when the immigrants — many of whom spend their lives working in restaurants up and down the East Coast — can all share a day off. Scores of wedding centers offering photography and video, dress and tuxedo rentals, and hairstyling and makeup have opened in the past 5 years along East Broadway, know locally as Fujian Street. Tables in restaurants have to be booked at least a year in advance, with the average restaurant hosting at least 10 wedding receptions squeezed into three sittings a day. Romance aside, it’s an expensive day. The average Fujian immigrant’s wedding will cost more than $10,000, and sometimes grooms have to kick in a traditional dowry of between $30,000 and $60,000. For many new couples, even a simple wedding brings debt that can take several years to pay off.