Yesterday, Cait and I went to a Chinese wedding- one of the English teachers from Longqiao Middle school, Miss Lou, was getting married and had invited us a couple of weeks before. So at 10am on Sunday morning, Mr Sha, another English teacher, picked us up with his wife and daughter. It took about an hour to get to Pengzhou where the wedding was, and was set in a spacious garden with Danjing mountain as a backdrop. During the journey he explained that in China there would usually be 6, 8, or 12 wedding cars, each symbolising something different; 6 for happiness, 8 for wealth, and 12 for both plus more. When we arrived, Miss Lou was at the front greeting everyone in a big white wedding dress. I told her that I liked her tiara but she beamed as she replied ‘It is a CROWN’ :’) We had bought a plant in a big red vase for the couple as a wedding gift which she liked- however we also gave a potted plant to the teachers on Friday as a thank you gift, so now they probably think that’s the only gift we give in the West!
Wedding couples have their photos taken before the wedding, and will have a photoshoot in various locations in different outfits. Photos from the shoot were printed out and hung from trees tied to colourful ribbons, lining the gardens that we were in. We sat in a long wooden teahouse-like structure for about half an hour with the rest of the guests. There isn’t really a dress code at weddings which surprised me as you usually see people really dressed up to go shopping, because they don’t go out or anything. So some people were in t-shirt and jeans whilst others opted for dresses and heels (we went with the latter too). We had lots of photos taken; some people came over to ask for a photo, and others were trying to be subtle by snapping us from their tables. This continued when we went into the function room where the wedding took place, and we were seated at a table right at the front with the school principal, 3 teachers, and the couple’s parents!
There was an aisle platform which the bride walked down with her father, then she stopped under an altar halfway where the groom walked up to her and then led her down the rest of the aisle. Instead of a priest they had a host who had a very similar role but it was nothing religious at all. Once they were married, the couple gave thanks to their parents, and it was so emotional…even though they were all speaking in Chinese I was still nearly crying! They then threw lots of red envelopes with some small money inside for everyone to catch, and then threw the bouquet; both men and women went up for this, and I was given the bouquet that the man caught 🙂
We were then told we could start eating so we dug in to the 15 dishes on the table- however some of the food wasn’t even touched which seemed like a waste! The two mothers then came round with a bottle of bijou and said they were ‘honoured’ to have us there (we’re really not that special, just a couple of foreigners!) and then the newlyweds came round with more bijou. So lots of drinking! By the time we left the ceremony it was around 1ish, and most people went into the teahouse to play MahJong. A few of us went for a walk around the gardens which was really pretty, and then we visited the temple at Danjing Mountain, all in our wedding gear and heels! When we got back we just sat around, went in for dinner at 6pm, and then left after that. The couple also gave us a red envelope with some money inside as well, and some sweets… but I gave them away to the kids, I think it’s a sign I’m getting older!
All in all it was an amazing day and it was interesting to see how they mixed Western traditions with Eastern ones. Hopefully I’ll be able to go to another one again one day!