This weekend, I was asked along with my family to the wedding of a Chinese colleague. I was excited as I had never been to one in China before and couldn't wait to go. This was not a typical Chinese wedding as my colleague was marrying an English man so there was a definite western flare to the wedding.
In China, the actual paperwork is done in a government office. This had been conducted 6 month previous which is typical here. So the wedding itself is more like a party to celebrate the marriage.
I arrived with my children at 5pm to the St. Regis Hotel where the festivities were taking place. It didn't take me long to find out where to go as they had a beautiful photo of the happy couple in the lobby and directions to the 18th floor. (what a view) When we arrived the photographer was there busy snapping away at the guests as they entered. We were meet by the bride and groom and asked to sign the guest book and put our name in for a raffle that would take place later in the evening. The children were given gifts which delighted them and we headed off to find our table.
The bride looked beautiful in her traditional white wedding gown. But I knew there was even better to come.
Unlike a wedding in Ireland they had an open bar (If I had of done this when I got married I would still be paying for it now, 10 years later) with a choice of soft drinks, beer and wines. There was a buffet provided with an excellent standard of both western and Chinese food. The chocolate mouse was especially popular.
There was perhaps a hundred guests in total, many of whom where family friends of the Bride's side.
Speeches are an important part of any wedding and just before we ate, both the bride and groom gave a speech, followed by one from both their bosses which is very typical here.
Whilst everyone was eating, the bride went of to get changed into her traditional Chinese wedding dress which was a pinky colour and made for her by her neighbour. She looked amazing in it. It is not uncommon for the bride to change into 3 or 4 dresses. Which is a considerable amount, especially due to the fact that the celebrations don't last as long as a western wedding.
When the eating had finished, the bride, groom and brides mother visited every table to drink a toast and collect the hongbao's. A hongbao is a red envelope which is given as a wedding present with money inside. It is also given during Chinese New Year and other times throughout the year. All the children at the wedding received a very generous hongbao also from the brides mother.
Just as everyone was settling down to a drink with full tummies, the party games began. Guests were invited up to take part in the games. They played charades and musical chairs and everyone who took part received a gift. Then they held their raffle where lots of prizes were won by the guests. This was followed by a photo montage of their life together.
Everyone was then thanked for coming and that was it. I left at about 8.30pm. At that stage most of the guests had already departed. It was a wonderful evening, filled with love and happiness and I was so happy to be part of it.