23 January 2011

A Wedding

We attended our first wedding in China. One of our teaching colleagues was getting married close to Xi'an, so we were excited to be there. And everyone was very kind to the special foreign wedding guests. Weddings in China combine elements of the west (white gown, exchange of rings) and east (red for good fortune, paying respect to parents). Here's the first bridal outfit, completed with a sash from fabric that matches their wedding quilt.
The bride arrived at the groom's home with her head covered, harkening back to the traditional custom of a groom not seeing the bride's face until their wedding day. All the lion statues on the procession route had their faces covered in red as well to prevent them from seeing the bride, and of course we drove to the sound of firecrackers (to keep evil spirits away).
The courtyard of the groom's family was transformed to an enormous kitchen where women from the village prepared food for the guests. The coal-fired cauldrons were steaming.
Diane sharing the kang with some of the older relatives; the kang is a family bed heated by an outside fire piped under the platform, and a very cosy place to be.
About two hundred guests were served in a couple of settings. The wedding meal was elaborate, with about twenty different dishes served in a tent put up for the occasion.
Bride and groom make their bows to the guests with with their parents watching on the right. The woman on the left is the hostess who presides over the ceremony, and the symbols on the wall are double happiness representing weddings.
The happy couple circulate among the dinner guests to serve a celebratory drink and receive red envelopes containing money. Congratulations and best wishes to Li Ye and Zhang Huifeng!