Sunday, October 08, 2006

My Big Fat Chinese Wedding

This time of year in China is known as 'golden month'. It's a fortuitous time to get married, have a baby, register your car etc. Combined with the fact that, according to the lunar calender, there will be NO SPRING THIS YEAR (???!???), lot's of people are getting married in Liaoyang at the moment (this partially explains the twice daily barrage of fireworks). Anyway, a friend of my boss got married yesterday, and my boss (Betty) asked her if it'd be okay if I came along, to see what a Chinese wedding was like. I wasn't exactly stoked about having to get up at 7am on a Saturday morning (who gets married before noon?) but if your boss has promised a foreigner for a wedding, I guess you better provide the foreigner.

So there I am, 9.30 in the freakin morning, beer coming at me left and right, with the cast of The Little Mermaid sitting on a plate in front of me (crab, prawns, oysters, scallops, whole fish, the works). To make matters worse, in a moment of bleary semi-clarity, I realised we are at least three hours from the sea here, and I've yet to see a single truck with anything that looked like refridgeration. I'm not by nature a big breakfaster (unless I have a hangover to service), and despite my love of the stuff, I don't tend to drink beer before the clock strikes noon.

Well, you're in China now.

The amount of food (as with any Chinese gathering) was staggering, and I was expected to try everything. Also, as the sole whitey in the room, I was the prime target for toasts with a bunch of people I've never met, including (but by no means limited to): the bride, the groom, the bride's father, the president of the college, the MC/Celebrant guy, and a whole host of others.

The ceremony itself was pretty informal, in western terms they pretty much just cut to the reception. Everyone was seated at tables, the bride and groom came in, a celebrant guy who was wearing a vegas-style red shirt and white suit, said a bunch of stuff, made some jokes (or so I gather) and led the assembly in a rousing chorus of 'If you're happy and you know it' (I'm not kidding). Then that was it, bingo, they're married. Without a peep out of either of them. You couldn't hear what was going on anyway most of the time, due to the accompanying explosions on the street outside.

So I ate a whole lot of food (I declined on the chicken heads, another thing I won't touch till after 12 o'clock/beers), drank a fair bit, shook a lot of hands, then because there was 3 more weddings in the same restaurant that day, they kicked us all out, maybe 90 minutes after we arrived.

So we all went and played Ping-Pong.

True story.

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