Weddings and other Shenanigans

Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Saturday, June 29, 2013

In a completely unrelated note to anything else in this post, I recently saw something that could only happen in China, and had to include it here.  I saw a car turn off the road, deliberately mount the curb and start driving down the footpath.  It then proceeded to aggressively BEEP the pedestrians to get out of its way, as if the car had right of way in that situation. That is one way to skip the traffic and get to the car park quicker.  What made this whole scenario even better, was that no one really batted an eyelid, and the pedestrians dutifully moved out of the path of the car.
 Back to the main section of the post:  I am now an official wedding crasher; attending a wedding of a couple I still don't know the names of, though, from my extensive research of the movie,  I think most wedding crashers are supposed to be a little more discreet and better at blending in than I was.

I went shopping in a new place called Solana in English, but Blue Harbour Bay in Chinese translated. It is home of lots of big brands back home, like Zara and H&M, so my Indonesian friend Vesliana and I were keen to go shopping and wander around.  The place is styled like a European shopping area, with the architecture and layout of the place.  It was so clean, fresh and new and not very crowded, so I really like wandering around there for a while.

The next day, Vesliana took me and our Japanese classmate Ai to a Chinese wedding.  Vesliana's boyfriend Jing Jing is a Chinese man, whose job it is to organise and film weddings, so he invited us to see how Chinese people get married. He took us out to Karaoke on Friday night, so we could all get to know each other, and have some fun before the wedding.  We were up early on the Saturday morning, and Jing Jing drove us out to the old Hu Tong on the outskirts of Beijing.  We were quite far from the city centre, so needless to say, I was quite a novelty there with my light hair and skin. The children followed me around all day, and I could hear the older guests whispering as I walked past. 
The wedding began at 10:30am, with the bride wearing a Western style white wedding dress.  They bride and groom are technically already married, so the ceremony is just for show.  The ceremony was performed by one of Jing Jing’s friends, who works as a singer, but also officiates weddings.  The ceremony was full of symbolic gestures, such as lighting a heart shaped candle, pouring wine into glasses to make a fountain, and a family hug with both sets of parents.  Some observers were standing, others were sitting, as there was not any pews or rows of seating.  There were just round tables with stools on the side, so if you wanted to see the ceremony from directly in front, then you would have to stand behind the cameraman, in the aisle.   I was also very surprised with how casual the guests were dressed; most people were in jeans and a T-shirt.  The bride threw the bouquet behind her at the end of the ceremony, and Ai and I lined up to catch it. I am curious if the bride and groom will ever watch their wedding DVD and wonder who on earth those two random girls are trying to catch the bouquet.  For that matter, I wonder if they’ll who we are full stop. Our connection to the wedding was very far, if it all. 

After the ceremony was finished in 15 minutes, the bride and groom exited the venue.  The guests then turned around to those round tables at the side, and picked them up and arranged them around the place.  Red plastic table cloths were thrown over the wooden tables, and the stools were placed around them.  There was no seating chart, and everybody just sat wherever there was a chair. We sat on our own table in the corner, and waited for lunch to come out.  Our table was so full that dishes were stacked on top of each other.  It was all cooked in an outside kitchen, and passed through the window of the hall to one of the servers. The food was very delicious and I tried some things before I hadn’t tasted here yet.  Each table also had cartons of cigarettes, and Bai Jiu, the Chinese alcohol which is over 40% pure alcohol. It may be the worst tasting thing I have ever tried, purely because it is so strong it tastes like nail polish remover.  As the food was served, the bride and groom reappeared, this time with the bride wearing a traditional Chinese red dress.

One thing I took out of the wedding was that I think often back home, weddings are such a huge event, that we spend months and months planning to make the day perfect.  We make sure that every detail from the font used on the invitations to the ribbon holding the bouquets together are matching and beautiful.  The couple that got married this day didn’t have as much money to spend on a wedding as many of us are blessed to have back home, but it didn’t matter.  It was the most casual affair I have ever seen, complete with disposable plastic bowls and cups as the cutlery, but, again, it made no difference to the happy couple.  I turned up with my friends to their wedding, with the only connection to the couple was that I was the classmate of the organiser’s girlfriend, but they did not care that we had crashed their affair. It was a really happy, carefree day, and I’m sure it was still the happiest day of the couple’s lives.  Maybe sometimes, in the West, we forget about what the day is really about, because we’re lost in the decorations and the need for perfection.  This couple was just happy to be married, with their friends and family in attendance, and I find that to be very inspiring.
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Comments

Sammy on

what a good expirence to know China~

Andrew on

Fantastic read and very insightful . Love your work Amy
We could all learn something from your observation ! !
Your best blog yet

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