We attended a Chinese coworker’s wedding last weekend, on the National Holiday Oct 1. This is a common wedding date because most people have off for 7 days during the holiday. If you don’t want to read, skip to the picture album at the end of the post.
The day started kind of early.
Mom and Pop Chopstix up at 5, drag kids up at 5:30, scramble to leave the house by 6:15 to walk 20 minutes to the pickup place where the rented bus is leaving at 6:30.
Weddings are typically held early in the morning, around 8 0r 9 am.
The bride is up by 3, I hear, to get ready for the groom and wedding party to pick her up early early.
I have sometimes seen wedding parties during my morning run–decorated cars, firecrackers, and red paper covering the drains (supposedly to ward off evil spirits).
We rode through the countryside for over 2 hours, and arrived in a small Manchurian village, the groom’s hometown.
The Manchu people are a minority group in China, and so have certain benefits (they can have 2 children instead of the standard 1, for example).
Atypical for China, the wedding was held in a small church along the river.
The ceremony was Christian one, not so different from a US-style with singing, vows, rings and a kiss.
No bridesmaids, but…there were two flower girls–our very own two oldest Chopstix girls had been asked to perform this honor!
Wedding pictures taken afterwards, as in the previous wedding we attended, included as many of the guests as wanted to be in them. Smallish groups of families, coworkers, church friends clustered around the happy couple and said cheese, and then the next group came up.
After the wedding we boarded the bus and drove a couple minutes to the groom’s parents’s home for “a small meal.”
This was an interesting segment–we realized that to cross over to the house we had to cross a creek on stepping stones.
Kids were loving it! Only one of mine fell in and had wet shoes…
A big party was already going on with the neighborhood enjoying a feast and a blaring sound system.
The church group made their way in, and in a little while were seated for round two in the seating area. This was the packed-dirt front yard of a small two-room house, with some round tables and little stools to sit on.
The cooking and food prep area was against the wall of the house, and the dishwashing area nearby, also outside.
It seemed like all the neighbor women had teamed up to cook and serve and clear tables, and a feast was served.
Lots of shrimp, crabs, mystery slices of meat, vegetable dishes, and the crowning glory: a large braised whole fish gracing the center atop the piles of serving dishes.
This is the fun part about a gathering in China–more and more food keeps on coming out, so platters are just stacked, pyramid style in the center of the table and you fish around for what you want.
The kids kept shrieking that the crabs and fish were still alive.
After we ate, a third round of people, including the bride’s parents, sat to eat.
During all the seatings, the bride and groom walked around to all the tables and greeted everyone.
It seemed like people kept coming and coming.
All were amused by the families with foreign children running around everywhere, screaming when someone picked them up.
We met the parents of the happy couple, and mingled for a bit longer.
At precisely 12 noon the bus took off for the city again, with a few extra passengers on board.
Everyone was tired and happy, and the rest of the snacks were eaten by children who did not deign to eat the shellfish served at the wedding.