This is a repost from my old livejournal blog which I abandoned long time ago.
An Aussie friend and his lovely Chinese girlfriend got married in a traditional Chinese wedding at Beihai Park, one snowy day. Beihai Park, in Beijing, is the park where the Mongolian hero-fighter Genghis Khan built the famous White Pagoda on the hill that houses the Buddha With a Thousand Hands.
Here’s what happened at the ceremonies of my very first traditional Chinese Wedding.
Before 10:00 a.m., guests were already waiting at the East gate of Beihai Park. It was snowing but that didn’t stop us from attending this unique wedding ceremony in the country that boasts 5000 years of civilization.
the drummer boys
Dressed in bright red costumes, the drummer boys got themselves ready with their musical instruments. The mobile chamber where the bride was to be carried was fully covered in red silk, lavishly embroidered with a phoenix and dragon creatures, powerful emblems for a woman and man.
The parade began with firing up confetti on air. Of course, a deafening noise barrage followed to send the devils or bad luck away. The bride, whose face was fully covered in silk veil, was then assisted to her chamber and about ten men carried it all the way to the wedding reception. The groom followed her bride with his best man.
Two dancing lions led the parade. Occasional stops in every important spot were made while the master of ceremonies was blabbing this and that in the language unknown to the foreign guests.
We passed on the bridge, to the tunnel-like arches, to the long corridor, and to another gate.
outside the reception
When everyone gathered around at the doorsteps of the reception, the bride came out from the chamber. She’s still covered in a red silk veil. Her maid of honor assisted her down the carriage to the red carpet where the groom waited for her arrival.
Then, the traditional ceremonies had to be done.
Throwing of the arrows. The groom was given two arrows and threw them into the air.
Unveiling the Bride. The emcee gave the groom a scepter-like baton to use it in unveiling his bride; touching was not allowed. He has to use that stick in getting rid of that silk veil.
After that, more blah, blah, blah from the master of ceremonies. People clapped here and there and we, the foreign guests, just followed them, having no clue what was going on. LOL…
Finally, picture taking with family members, relatives, and friends in an Oscar-like fashion. (I’m talking about the red-carpet hospitality.)
at the reception
Ok, I’m not going to be verbose here. I’ll just bullet the things that transpired inside the traditional, posh Chinese restaurant considered by many Beijingers as a good place to spend dinner.
- after short introductions and with little help from the hired translator, the emcee proceeded to read the wedding documents (looked like a Mao’s little red book) to the newly-wed couple. A representative from the marriage bureau handed it to them.
- candle lighting fololwed
- ganbei (wine toasting—exclusive for the bride & groom only)
- the couple was told to kowtow to the East direction (to Heaven);
- they also kowtowed three times to their parents (for bringing them into this world; for raising them up; and for supporting them)
- then, they kowtowed to each other for (for respect)
- the groom served tea to the bride’s parents. In return, the parents gave them a hongbao, a red envelope that contains money as a gift to the couple.
- the bride served tea to the groom’s parents
- speech from the parents of both sides ensued.
- ring exchanged by the newly-wed
- and of course, there was the kiss!
- the couple gave their speeches of thanks and gratitude
- the couple disappeared for a while to change their wedding clothes. Minutes later, they emerged both wearing a silk, red qipao
- wine toasting to EVERY guest / picture taking in every table.
- sumptuous lunch was served—from the appetizers to deserts.
And everyone was happy.