Sorry about the late follow-up to this post! Been busy being a dragon this past week: just joined a gym, classes started back up and my new DJ residency is taking off; so a pretty good start to the new year!
Anyways, let’s rewind about 6 weeks and head back to Humen, Guangdong, where my lovely cousin Li Xi and her new husband Wu Hai-Feng had their BOSS wedding. Like I mentioned in the last post, my cousins are pretttttttty wealthy. The day of the wedding was both exciting and exhausting for everyone, especially our family (both my uncle and grandma came down with the sickness the night before!) After the morning ceremonies and pigging out at lunch, we all booked it to the hotel where the evening reception was to take place and came down with the ITIS for a bit (gotta rest up before the next feast!)
Finally, it was time to make our way to the ballroom; my mother dressed in her traditional red & gold chi-pao while I suit-ed up in a matching red tie. Sidenote: you’ll notice in the pictures from the slideshow below that most of the guests did not dress up for the wedding. In China, it seems that only the bridal/groom party and the parent’s of the betrothed wear formal clothing while other guests wear whatever they choose. Given the black on black two-piece, my spiky fauxhawk and shiny studs, it was pretty clear I wasn’t a native of the area. I am pretty sure guests started snappin’ pictures and asked my family if I was a famous celebrity from the states, lol.
Rather than describe the magnificence of the venue, check out the following slide show. I can’t begin to imagine how much time it took to put this all together:
The ceremony itself was unlike anything I’ve been to before; it really felt like a red carpet event and pretty much played out like one as well. It opened up with mingling and pictures with the bride and groom at the ballroom threshold (when you see it in the slideshow, be sure to check the hilarious typo in the back drop – why must they use English phrases if they can’t read it???). After getting seated finally (900+ guests in 88 tables!) the lights dimmed and a cute slideshow of the wedding couple commenced (played to the song ‘Beauty and the Beast’ lol).
Finally, after half of the courses were served, they began the wedding march. Similar to western weddings, the bride is escorted by her father down the aisle, however, instead of meeting the groom at the altar (in this case, canopy?), the groom approaches them to proclaim his love and ask for the father’s blessing. You can see in the pictures that Hai-Feng walked across the catwalk (to the tune of his favorite band) to face them and say his vows. It got pretty sappy here and he made everyone cry with a very sweet and sincere speech (I’m not gonna lie, I teared up a bit). My uncle, who is not the most eloquent speaker, responded in his typical jokester fashion saying something along the lines of: “Hai-Feng, you are a good dude and I like you because you have no bad habits” (snicker snicker).
After that, I was ready to get back to dominating the feast in front of me, but not 2 minutes into my lobster tail, I was ushered up by Li Xi’s mom to be part of the toasting party. I guess I was honored, but have you ever toasted 88 tables before? IT TOOK OVER AN HOUR AND A HALF!!! Later I found out that my aunt said I had to represent our family b/c no one else on her side dressed up, lol. There was this toasting “master” who led us to each table, yelling random nonsense and filling our cups with iced tea (from a cognac bottle, haha). Finally after 5 glasses of faux Remy Martin, I returned to a table of cold, but nonetheless tasty dishes, which I pigged out on as the guests began to leave. You sure do work up an appetite pretending to get drunk.
So here’s a quick and incomplete tally of all the absurd displays and expenses:
- A ridiculous laser-light show opening with acrobats
- Custom sand animation depicting their love story (couldn’t post the original but the link shows pretty much what it was like – it was definitely my favorite part!)
- The master of ceremony was apparently a celebrity TV host from Guangzhou
- Really piercing performances by Peking opera singers
- A professionally shot music video performed by the bridesmaid and 24/7 photography & videography documenting the entire weekend
- 12-course meal that included shark fin soup, giant abalone, dragon-tail lobster, roast baby pig and many other delectables
- Times that by 88 tables!
- And wedding gifts included a 2012 Audi TTS 2.0, set of Cartier watches, traditional solid gold necklace and bracelets, and over 500,000 in cold, hard RMB (that’s one huge hong bao)
All in all, I was told that the entire ceremony (including gifts, hotels, performances etc.) totaled to around 8 MILLION RMB (that’s about 1.3 million USD o_O). Good thing in China, it’s the groom’s family who pays for the wedding, lol
So after digesting all of that extravagance, I began to think about the institution of marriage between East and West. Obviously, there are the cultural traditions that separate us as well as the lack of religious context. But why was it so necessary to be this grand? Though I had a blast, I couldn’t help by think how wasteful and over-the-top the whole event was (they threw out the entire CAKE!). I learned that showcasing your wealth is just something that is done in China. To display success and fortune is a part of Chinese culture; and contrary to Western values, it isn’t really considered arrogant to do so. I guess you could say that Chinese people place high esteem in material wealth; so if you got it, you might as well flaunt it. It think this traces back to China’s focus on valuing family lineage and honor through tangible measures of success.
Let me remind you again that this not your typical Chinese wedding, so forgive me if I may be over-generalizing. One thing is for sure: my cousin is never going to have to worry about money the rest of her life!
Still dreaming of that crispy pork,
p.s. My grandparents asked me if my wedding was going to be like this, to which I respond, 哎吔! 不会! (rough translation: AW HELLLLL NO!)