Well it finally arrived, Vivian and Martin’s wedding day. I didn’t know what to expect. I have noticed that weddings seem to be a fairly big deal in Asia. There are big processions and parties. I see cars driving around all decorated with newly weds inside. But what would happen today, I didn’t have a clue.
About 12:30 Nina called and said she and her husband were on their way over and would pick me up outside my building. I showered and threw on some clean clothes and was downstairs in 10 minutes. They drove to a restaurant where we met up with the bride and groom and their families. There were maybe 10 – 12 people total.
The restaurant was very crowded and apparently there was a problem getting as table, so after 15 or 20 minutes of standing around, we got into cars and drove across town to the Novotel. This is where the big party would lake place.
On our way we passed a car decorated with streamers and flowers. It was obviously another wedding party. In front of it was another car with a guy stand up through the sun roof, taking pictures of
the wedding car.
Our small group went into the restaurant there and had lunch of several appetizers. I was warned not to eat too much. So I didn’t. All the food was good. Martin passed out cigarettes to the men, all of whom smoked. I assume the cigarettes’ were something special. I know you can buy packs of cigarettes in China for a few yuan, all the way up to $25.00 USD per pack, and maybe more. It’s not like in the USA where all cigarettes are in the same price range. The men smoked until the food began arriving.
The food was good. I tried a bite of everything. But as I sit here, I can not remember too many details. I liked the cold blood pudding and the sautéed green vegetables. The best thing was a plate of shrimp and pork friend rice that was served with a very tasty sauce. Usually fried rice is served kind of dry. The sauce added something like another layer of flavor. There was also a dish of very wide, very thin noodles that was good. There were several kinds of meat served in bite sized pieces, usually with bones.
Everything was tasty and well prepared. I guess there were 12 – 15 individual dishes, plus hot tea.
After the food was eaten the men smoked some more. Martin paid the bill. I saw him take out three – one hundred yuan notes plus some smaller notes. So our appetizer lunch cost around $6.00-7.00 USD each. Not bad for an expensive hotel restaurant.
After lunch were were taken up to the second floor where we were dispersed into several small rooms. Martin’s parents found a room where they had game boards and started playing what I call “Chinese dominoes.” The pieces look vaguely like western dominoes, but had many different types and pictures on them. I didn’t understand the game, even after watching a few minutes. Someone offered me lessons, but I knew that would be a waste of time because of language.
Eventually I found my way into a room where Edison and his girlfriend, Kelly, were watching TV. I joined them and watched Jurassic Park part I and a few minutes of CNN International news. I don’t get CNN at my house. I never thought I would miss it, but it was good to watch
At 17:00 we left the room and headed to the grand ball room where the main wedding party was to take place. It room was being set up when we got there. I took a few pics of the work in progress. The room was supposed to open at 18:00 and dinner was scheduled to be served at 19:00. I counted 11 tables with 10 places at each table. So there were 100 invited guests plus the family of the bride and groom. About 110 people in all.
Eventually a pink balloon entrance way was erected along with a table outside the door where guests could register when entering. guests began arriving the bride and groom assumed places outside the door to greet them.
Kelly, Edison and I wandered around a while. We came onto the room where the bride and groom were getting dressed and fixed up. Martin was having his hair spiked. Vivian was in her wedding gown and heavily made up.
About 18:00 the room was ready and the quests started drifting in. I was seated with Nina and Kelly. They both speak English, so I was happy about that. Edison
was the family table. Nina’s mother, husband and sister were at my table too. Everyone seemed to know each other. I was a little disappointed that there were no other westerners there. I was the only one.
After the guests had arrived and were seated, the emcee took the stage and announced the arrival of the bide and groom. The happy couple entered the room through the back door and walked up the the stage on a red carpet. The William Tell Overture was played. They got to the stage through a shower of confetti and said a few words to the guests.
The emcee led them through some humorous banter and Martin’s father took the microphone and said a few words. A male friend of Martin’s came up, maybe the equivalent to the Best Man, and read something he had written that was mostly funny. The bride and groom poured a Champaign fountain. After that they were seated at the family table.
Right at 19:00 the food began to be served. In typical Chinese fashion, the food was served one dish after another. It was not all brought at once. This time it was in large
dishes rather than on appetizer sized plates. There was a Lazy Susan in the center of the table, so everyone could reach everything.
Some of the things I remember were an excellent shrimp, scallop, and squid dish sautéed with celery and red peppers. There were giant steamed prawns, chicken soup with a really tasty clear broth, fried rice, a whole fish, barbecued pigeons, and several kinds of meats and vegetables, most of which I did not recognize. There was a dish of sautéed whole mushroom caps with green vegetables, another of my favorites. There were two kinds of egg rolls with fillings I could not identify, but were very good. And of course there were barbecued chicken feet. There were dumplings and meat filled buns. I tried a little of everything, and must admit it was all very good.
Desert was some sort of pastry that was cut into bite sized pieces. It was very light and crumbly. It has sesame seeds on the top and a filling inside. By the time it was served everyone was full, so most of it didn’t get eaten. Except for me. I think I ate half of what was brought to
Orange juice, something that looked like 7-Up, water, and tea were offered for beverages. There was also a Chinese red wine. It was poured into regular size wine glasses, but the girls who served it just put a splash into the bottom each time they poured. It was barely a taste, but they did come around again and again with refills all during the meal. The wine was quite dry, and I thought good. Kelly didn’t like it. I think she likes it more sweet.
Finally dinner was over. and a female emcee took the stage in front of the room. She talked for a few minutes, then Vivian and Martin took the microphone. Thankfully all the speechifying was short. Music was played while a slide show of the bride and groom was shown on a screen.
There was a six later wedding cake on the stage and at some point the bride and groom seemed to cut it, but pieces were never passed around. It turns out the “cake” was only a prop and was owned by the hotel. When the crew started cleaning up, I saw someone carry it away holding it sideways.
At some point the bride threw her bouquet to the crowd. All the single men and women gathered to try to catch it. Thing there were maybe 20 men and only two or three women in the group. The bride turned her back and made the toss. My escort, Kelly, caught it. I don’t know what Edison thinks about that.
Then the happy couple went around to each table to say hello and indulge in a few toasts. Even with the tiny amounts served, there must have been more than 50 bottles of wine opened that evening.
After hellos, the couple went back to their table and a few of Martins male friends took the stage and made some humorous remarks. I don’t know what they said, but the crowd laughed. Then one of them got Vivian and Martin to come up and play a few bawdy games.
One game had Martin hold an open bottle of Champaign between his legs while Vivian poured herself a glass without using her hands to touch the bottle.
Another game found Martin with a wad of money tied to a ribbon and suspended from his waist. Vivian had
to bend over and try to catch the money in her mouth. This was the crowd’s favorite. Poor Vivian never caught the money, but not from lack of trying.
A third game was for Vivian to take two raw eggs and simultaneously run one up each of Martin’s pant legs and down the other side without breaking. Everyone laughed when she got the eggs to the top of Martins pant legs. Happily she only broke one egg, and that was outside of the pants.
During the evening I never saw anyone present either the bride or the groom with a red envelope. I gave mine to Martin as we were getting ready to leave. He said thanks and put it in a large bag that I was was full of red envelopes. How they got there I do not know. Maybe the bag was at the door to the room and people dropped their envelopes in when entering. Because we were early, I entered the room before the table was set up at the door.
By this time it was 22:00 and the guests began to leave. After a few minutes there were only 3 tables left.
One was the table of Martin’s male friends who were clearly enjoying them selves. The other was a table of couples, and the third was the family table where only a few of the family remained. Kelly, Nina and I joined the family table for a while. Martin sat with his friends at their table. I don’t remember where Vivian was.
The hotel employees came in and started taking the tables down and cleaning up. I got very sleepy and took a short walk to wake up. There was a lounge down stairs where there was a horrible, old, ugly western woman singing bad songs badly. She was accompanied by a guitar player who must have learned to play that morning. I thought about having a coffee there, but somehow it was too sad. I walked around in the heat outside a few minutes then returned to the end of the party.
I don’t know when or how the couple actually got married. When they signed on the dotted line, so to speak. There are almost no churches or temples here, so it must have been some sort of civil procedure. I asked a couple of people, and
then either didn’t understand my question or gave me an answer I could not understand.
I know they had wedding pictures taken several weeks ago. These were the pictures projected on the screen the the ball room. Maybe that is when they were married. But did they have to go to a court house and sign something? Or jump over a broom stick? I don’t know how it works in China. I know there are some sort of official something because An acquaintance once mentioned having to return to her home province to get her divorce.
Finally it was time to leave. Edison, Kelly, Nina’s husband and I got into a car and returned home by this time it was 23:30. I don’t know what happened to the very pregnant Nina. I was very tired from the long day and all the eating and drinking. I notice the guy at the metal shop in my alley was welding away. I could see the sparks through my balcony window.
Two people told me Martin spent 20,000. yuan on the party. That comes to under $30.00 USD per person. It is very expensive for China, but the same thing
in the USA would be considerably more than $150.00 USD per person, I am sure.
I don’t know where the happy couple will go on their honeymoon. I know they spent their wedding night at the Novotel. I asked someone about it, but “honeymoon” apparently did not translate. I will probably find out later.
As I was writing this Vivian stopped by with two bottles of wine that were left over from last night. It turns out is is French. F. Colombe is the vineyard. It is labeled Vin De Pays Des Bouches Du Rhone, 2007. It had a Chinese label on the back of the bottle, and that is the side I saw last night. That’s why I thought it was a Chinese vintage. I asked her about her honeymoon, but she did not understand my question. Apparently they are staying around home.