Friday, October 31, 2014

Hong Kong Wedding

I have heard that Hong Kong weddings are a fusion of East and West, but I feel like it's evolved into less of a fusion and more of a Hong Kong thing.  

I've been to a few weddings when I lived in China.  One was a purely village affair, where we all sat around round tables laughing about work, drinking bai jiu, and eating piles of dishes.  I can't remember much of the traditions, though, because I was just so happy that two of my friends, back then, had gotten married finally!

The merry feelings are definitely remembered, but the details are so foggy, which is why I wanted to jot down a few of my observations of a Hong Kong wedding that I had the honor of attending.

1.  The white wedding gown is a must at the ceremony, but the reception, for the bride, consists of a few outfit changes - from a traditional Chinese outfit in the morning to a gorgeous ball gown in the evening.

2.  Red satin pajamas are worn in the morning, as per tradition.  Some people say it is for good luck and it is also the wedding color for the bride.  My bride said that it was also a barrier between herself and the rental Chinese outfit that she wore in the morning.

3.  Beautifully embellished gowns are worn by the bride throughout the reception, each with its own unique hair and makeup.  And the mother-of-the-bride, I'm not sure if it is common with other wedding receptions, also did a few outfit changes throughout the evening.

4.  Besides the threads, one of the more Chinese traditions of setting off a towering string of firecrackers issued in the wedding festivities of the day.  Since we were in the village where the groom lived, a lot of the local villagers came out of their homes to see what all the racket was about!  This totally woke me up, for real, because we'd all been up since before the crack of dawn.

5.  Both the bride and the groom paid respects to the groom's ancestors by burning paper money, lighting incense, and bowing to an altar.  This tradition is called baisaan.

6.  At the reception, mah zhong tables are set up.  This is the place to be when you want to meet with people, play a few rounds of mah zhong, and kick back.  I think this was mostly for the older generation of guests because gambling is quite the pastime, I hear.

7.  The tea ceremony is held at the groom's home, where the bride pours tea for her in-laws.  It's a symbol of respect.  This was also held at the reception venue.

8.  Most weddings I have been to have a roundtable type of setting, where there is either a 12 course meal served or a buffet available.  I think the highlight of everyone's night was probably the buffet…the oysters and lobster tails especially.

This night was also quite the blur for me because so much happened.  The main event of this event was actually the program that was running on the stage.  There were speeches by the bride and groom's fathers, videos/slideshows of the couple were running at one point, a dance performance by the groom garnered cheers from the guests, a set of songs arranged by the bride's father made our eyes swell, photos with the couple were taken by the professional videography crew, etc.  There was so much that went on as well as the eating, drinking, and meeting of people.  It was a crazy time, in a good way!

I can't wait for another friend of mine to get married…because I know I will be in for a good time.