Attending a Chinese Wedding

“You, me, together tomorrow marry.” Was that a proposal attempt? Nope. Just a typical attempt at a conversation in English with Xiwen, my roommate for the next 3 months. After my look of total confusion, she translates to Chinese. We’re going to wedding in two days. I’ve heard different things about weddings in China, so I knew this was going to be an experience.

Preparing for the Wedding

I found out that the groom is friends with Xiwen, and his uncle—I think it’s his uncle, family ties here always confuse me—is a higher-ranking Chinese government official here in Bayuquan. Xiwen explained how the family has lots of money so the wedding was going to be quite the event. The first thing I noticed was the attire. Before we even showed up to the wedding, a group of 5 of us—all women—assembled. 3 of us were wearing dresses, one in torn denim capris, and the last in running shorts and a V-neck t-shirt. After seeing women in evening attire and sweat suits, I figured that anything must go.

Just Married

Arriving to the Wedding Ceremony

I wasn’t sure where the wedding was, so like normal I just piled into the car preparing myself for the chaos that is driving in Bayuquan. A little ways down the road, I knew where we were headed. There are dozens of rainbow inflatable arches and mini-hot air balloons in one area of this town. The middle arch declares one word in English, “LOVE.” So romantic. Walking into the hotel, I was greeted with a 15ft poster of the bride and groom with another word, “Welcome.” We walked into the atrium among a sea of ornate decorations, the main attraction was a raised mirror platform leading from a constructed gazebo to a stage. Behind the stage was a giant projection screen showing pictures of the couple. We tried to find a table, but they were all full so we moved to the overflow section. Yes, they have one of those at Chinese weddings! Once we found our table, conveniently located behind a wall where no one could see anything, we went back to the main atrium to watch the ceremony. As the couple walked up the aisle, the screen changes from pictures of the couple to assorted scenery. We were “transported” from the plain atrium to a castle in the country, the beach, a flower garden, and among others my favorite, which was a flying boat sailing through golden skies.

The Wedding Ceremony and Photography

Wedding RingsI recognized parts of the wedding like the rings—that a random waitress delivered to the front—the vows, and kissing the bride. I tried not to laugh when the groom kissed the bride and the same ring-deliver waitress basically threw flower petals AT the bride and groom. Men and women lined up to catch the bouquet and then the couple walked back down the aisle through confetti cannons. At the end of the aisle they took three pictures with their professional photographer. I was in one them. Now, I will be forever immortalized in the wedding album of a Chinese couple whose names I don’t even know. The perks of being one of the only foreigners in the city.

Post Wedding Celebrations

Following the ceremony, the bride walked by us in the overflow section with her arm through some other man. It didn’t look like her brother. A little ways behind her came the groom, smoking a cigarette with some of his friends. I guess the honeymoon period was already over… We sat down to eat and the waiters themselves were quite the spectacle. A good number of them were wearing roller skates to be able to get to the tables faster, and ours even had light-up ones. Setting the mood, maybe? The food was a typical Chinese meal with a bunch of assorted dishes, half of which I didn’t recognize. As normal, I just ate and didn’t ask questions. I’ve learned life is better that way. Our group sat with 2 other people and when the 2 left after eating, the lady next to me smiled. She reached into her purse and pulled out 10 plastic bags. “Why waste food?” she asked me and proceeded to pour the leftovers of her favorite dishes into the plastic grocery bags. As soon as they filled up the bags we got up to leave without anyone being able to see us. I mean, who needs party favors when you can just take the food? After we left we went back to work and continued our day. The wedding happened during our lunch break and we made it back with 15 minutes to spare. China is…interesting.

Written by Emmie Wenzell, a brave CSA Student exploring life in Bayuquan!

 

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