Posted in China

Chinese Weddings are Awesome

** Sorry for the false post! Here is the real one 🙂 **

Today, 12-18-2011, Shuyan married Hanshin in a beautiful event that took the whole day. I am so honored to have been invited to share this with them.

The day started early! We were up, showered, and ready to go by 6:30. I had to put on my Chinese outfit before leaving as I wouldn’t have time to change later. I really rushed with my scarf, so it was a bit messy throughout the day until I changed for dinner. We picked up the three girl cousins and headed to the salon for Shuyan’s makeup and hair. They put two sets of false eyelashes on her! It was not very pleasant taking them off later.

After finishing the makeup, the girl came with us to the apartment of Shuyan’s parents and would stay until dinner to help dress Shuyan and give her a new hair style.  The first dress was there for her to change into, as was the coordinated jewelery set she would wear. I went quickly and did my own makeup, keeping it low key as it seemed nobody else was wearing anything too fancy. There was a special breakfast meal of dumplings stuffed with sesame in a broth that is for blessings. I ate the dumplings but didn’t finish the broth as it was a little bland for me (but the dumplings were richly flavored, so it balances) . We took some pictures with her family, and they kept including me in the family pictures. We waited for a bit for the groom and his friends to come; his family would be at the new apartment waiting for everyone afterwards. The cars and the doors and the rooms were decorated with the symbols for happiness (double happiness; two of them) to have happiness from both sides of the family as it’s a union of two. They were also on cups, and they gave me a bunch to take home with me (I think it was also a hint, haha).

When Hanshin and his friends arrived, they set of lots off firecrackers and poppers (the ones that spout confetti?).  They were allowed into the apartment but had to bargain their way into her room to get her. It was funny; when he came, knocked, and called for her, she answered, which is exactly what she’s not supposed to do. We all laughed and her cousins told her she has to play hard to get! They stuck some money under the door in the red envelopes to try to bribe their way in. I suggested that he had to sing, which he did, and they loved the suggestion because he’s apparently a terrible singer. He sang just a little bit before they asked him to mention all of her nicknames and list some good things about her. He called her lover, dear, darling, etc, and everyone laughed. The other girls also asked him to do push ups and such, but he didn’t get to that. One of the guys shouted my name (which the others found hilarious) and I later found it was the guy in the hat from yesterday. They should know better; I’m not the bride! Not cool to steal her thunder, but she also thought it was funny (and that’s not the only time I unintentionally stole her thunder… we’ll get to that in a bit).

They unlocked the door and we pushed to hold them back, but there were too many of them and so they got in 🙂 He came to Shuyan, who sat on her bed looking like a queen, and he came on his knee in front of her. They had a series of pictures taken and served tea to her parents before we all went out to the cars to go to the new apartment. I rode in the front seat of their car as the best friend of the bride, next to the driver. I’d wanted to go with the others until it was explained to me that the best friend of the bride rides in the front seat of the car with the two of them, leaving me super touched. The car looked great; they had all sort of pink decorations and a heart on the front of the car. We went up to the apartment with her family, and his friends set off a few poppers before we went in. We’d seen some of the decorations the night before, but everything looked great in the morning light. There was a balloon arch before their door, along with balloons and streamers inside the apartment. They had made some kind of wedding sweet soup, but I didn’t like it too much so I left most of it. They also did a tea ceremony with his parents. I didn’t take many pictures at this point due to the photographers, and I thought I’d have a copy of them before I left. I’ll try to update with more wedding pictures later!

After all of this, we got back in the car and went to the hotel. Shuyan needed to change her dress and put on a yellow dress with the veil and a tiara. I had to run back to my room to get the veil, the gloves, and the hoopskirt. I rushed back and brought the items to Shuyan who at that point was ready and had her new hairdo done (homegirl was quick!). They had also given her a new set of jewelry to match her dress, and she looked gorgeous. Wei had tried to do some makeup but it wasn’t working as she’d like, so I helped her out as best as I could. When we finished, Shuyan had already left, but her aunts were excited by my makeup ‘skills’ and asked if I could do her other two cousins. All three have such beautiful skin! I asked the mothers if they wanted anything done too, but they declined. Apparently they were just really happy that the girls had on some makeup.

We went out by the elevator area and found Shuyan and Hanshin taking pictures with the guests as they came in. I was really surprised that everyone appeared to be on time (Muslim weddings ALWAYS start late)! Around the time for lunch, we walked into the hall where nearly everyone was present. I went to sit at the front table with the bride and groom where they sat with their friends. Hanshin walked towards Shuyan when she entered, and went down on his knee in front of her. He took her arm from her father and walked with her to the front where lots of ceremonies happened and he read her his message, saying how lucky he is because she chose him over a life in America. I had been sure that Shuyan would not get emotional, but when he said this, she started to cry a little bit. His dad gave a quick speech, followed by her dad, and then a local big person gave a really really long speech (we joked about it for days afterward). Shuyan’s dad, as he was going back to sit, came and told me I look super beautiful today 🙂 I love that every Chinese person knows that word! We all sat down except for Shuyan and Hanshin, who started going table to table to toast everyone. The lunch came out and we got busy eating. The food was great!

While we were eating, they started some games. The first was a tongue twister that several people got on stage for, including the young boy too shy to talk to me. There was a friend of Hanshin’s who went up (he competed against a bunch of little kids, haha) whom I later discovered works as a prison guard who won along with a little girl, and they both got some of the candy gifts. Big guy, one of Hanshin’s friends that I met the night before at dinner, wanted me to go on stage, but the MC said I wouldn’t be able to do it (I would have killed that tongue twister). The next game was with the guys and was a drinking game, and prison guard won easily (followed by big guy) , his prize being a small stuffed panda (not a real one!). For the last game, Wei was really excited and wanted me to go up along with her as she really wanted to win the big panda. It’s a huge toy; I’d have to get another seat on the plane for it. We were to guess the price. She initially wanted to guess 120Y, but the MC said to guess between 48 and 110, so I decided to go with 85 and she went with 92. Amazingly, the price turned out to be 86, and as the closest, I won! Everyone was really happy that I got the panda, and we took lots of pictures with my new boyfriend. Shuyan sat next to me for a total of 30 seconds, giving her just enough time to take a bite of duck meat. She then had to go and change into a more traditional red dress with a bow in front, along with the original jewelry set and another hairdo.

When the lunch was over, we went back to the common room to get things together before going to take pictures at a park. Shuyan told me of a little boy with cancer who has lost one eye and is cared for by his grandmother, and asked if it would be ok to give him the panda (I later saw he had played the game with us in the wedding video). This made me really happy and worked perfectly as I was planning to ask her which kid would like it anyway. They said he was jumping around because he was so happy, and that he couldn’t even lift it because it was so big. We took a lot of pictures and then went back to the hotel to collect the girls. We went outside towards the bridge next to the hotel and took a bunch of pictures with the girls and a couple of a few guys. When we were done, we went back to the hotel to relax a bit before the dinner. The guys wanted to come use my room for poker and smoking, but I went with them so I could get a couple of things first. In the 2 minutes that I was in my room, they decided to go use the hall instead as they didn’t want to do anything bad in my room, haha. Apparently my holy presence has permeated my room and they didn’t want to disturb my zone of tranquility. I took my change of clothes back to Shuyan’s room and chatted with them for a bit. Shuyan’s mom was feeling a bit sick from all the smoke in the hall and was resting in one of the beds. When I heard that the dinner was at 5 and realized I had a few hours, I told her I’d go back to my room to change. I came back with 45 minutes to go before we had to go back, and Shuyan had changed into her short Chinese dress with again a new updo and jewelry. She was much more relaxed at this point and was happily smiling and excited to go back to the hall.

Dinner was with a much smaller crowd. The guys that we had dinner with the night before had already left as they lived much further away. Hanshin changed into a new suit and wore the tie and tie pin that I gave him. We went to the dinner hall and there were a little less than half of the original number of people. Dinner went well; Shuyan was able to stay and eat as she wished, even though she still needed to do a few toasts. While we were eating, there was a table looking at me and Shuyan pointed that they wanted to say hello to me, so I ‘cheers’-ed to their table and said “ni hao” and they got really excited. It is really funny watching grown people giggle, haha! At this point, the drunk people became obvious, as pretty early on, an older man came and toasted her grandfather and the couple, before becoming super surprised at seeing me. He then toasted me before laughing drunkenly and going to another table. He soon came back with another drunk guy who toasted me as well, and then they went to the same other table. He did this another few times, and when some older guys would come to our table, he’d suddenly show up and toast with him, too. He wanted me to drink with him, and called for a time out when I said that I don’t drink. He then left me sadly, with his drink in his hand. I later found out he was the grandfather of the boy I gave the panda to (hence his extreme happiness at seeing  me). Shuyan then asked me to come to her mom’s table and toast them, which I did. I sat with her mom while Shuyan and Hanshin went to another table, and the ladies all got excited and took group pictures with me. Shuyan came back and we went to another table. As I passed a third, they all got me and we toasted together.  The wedding ended with the original drunk guy coming to me once again and asking to take a picture with me. This resulted in a line of several others wanting pictures, and then another drunk guy (who used to be Hanshin’s superior) came and started drunkenly speaking with me and Shuyan, mentioning how much he likes Kung Fu Panda and karate posing and saying ‘you know, you know’ and ‘how you say’ and inviting me to lunch in his hometown. We’ll see! I felt bad for really taking the limelight away from Shuyan, but she laughingly told me how happy she was that the pressure was on me instead of her. Awesome girl 🙂

Near the end, the little boy I gave the panda to found me, along with his grandmother. He was still really excited and jumping around, and was thanking me repeatedly and telling me what he was going to do with his new panda friend. I hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek which sent him giggling back to his grandmother and peeking at me before shyly turning away. I’m so glad I managed to get a picture with him, even if he was too excited to stay still!

We went back to the common rooms after this with Wei, who was tired and trying to decide who was taking her to the airport the next morning. We were kind of hoping that the post-wedding karaoke wouldn’t happen because we were tired and the guys were a bit drunk and didn’t remember the room, but they called and said they were there so we went but Wei stayed. We walked just right next to the hotel and went into the private room in the club (it wasn’t even a club, just a place with several private rooms for karaoke), and some guy was already singing there. I was really surprised; many of the guys sounded professional in their singing. The guys were almost all playing poker, and when I was watching, prison guard was winning a lot of money, but apparently big guy (organizer of the wedding) won a lot, too. What really surprised me is that everyone was drinking black tea! Guy in the hat came and sat near me and showed me how to play a game with fire (YES!! I am such a pyro), a die, a cup, and a tissue. They wet the cup and stick the tissue on in a circle, leaving just the center, and put a die in the middle and burn around it. Whoever drops the die loses and has to drink (I insisted that our game losses involve only tea). I’m apparently a tough contender as I wasn’t afraid to play dirty, and even though nobody was watching the other games, they all watched when I was playing. I think I developed a fan club, haha! I surprised everyone (except myself, of course) by winning 3/4 games.

They kept trying to get me to do karaoke, but I told Shuyan I wouldn’t do it unless she did it with me. Finally after all the pressure, guy in the hat got up and gallantly held out his hand to take me to the machine. They were all watching and encouraging, so I let him lead me there; this made Shuyan giggle like crazy as she came with me. We looked through a ton of the English songs before she asked if we could do Love Story by Taylor Swift, so I agreed. As soon as I left the machine, the guys mobbed it. I warned them multiple times that my karaoke would be terrible, but they apparently like everyone to do it because it’s fun.  The voice isn’t important, as most don’t listen to each other while singing, but they like the fun aspect. We started singing and they all thought it was good until the second line or so, lol. The microphone had some sort of auto-tune on it so my voice seemed a lot higher than usual. As soon as it finished, Lady Gaga’s Poker Face started playing and they all laughed (they had set up a few more songs they wanted to hear me sing, hence the mobbing of the machine). Lady Gaga is really popular in China and they love this song and wanted to hear an American sing it. Shuyan and I sang it together with my voice progressively getting worse, but they loved when I sang the fast part. When Just Dance came on next, I laughingly said that was it and passed the microphone on to someone else.

We left the room at 10:30 and went back to the hotel. Shuyan and Hanshin came up to my room and hung out for a bit before going to the other room. Shuyan called me about 10 minutes later to tell me that they were going instead to the new apartment as the hotel room was messy and still smoky from having so many people in it all day. We agreed to meet later in the day for lunch and wished each other a good night. I chatted with my family for a bit before going to bed. 

Seriously, today was perfect. I can’t imagine a more fun, familial, or lively wedding. Aside from the alcohol, I wouldn’t mind having a wedding like this some day. Best of wishes to Shuyan and Hanshin!



Enjoy my little descriptions of life and experiences, and feel free to leave any comments and or suggestions!

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