Now, here are some things to note:
What I attended was not the ceremony but the dinner that acknowledged the couple, collected presents (translation: traditional red envelopes filled with lots of money,) and showed off the money that the couple’s parents had.
What showing off money means is the location of the dinner and the meal itself. HOLY SMOKES. That was crazy. The amount of food served was out of control. Each table had dish after dish brought out, all placed on a “lazy susan” and served family style. And not one table made it through half of the food served. Oh. And lemme tell you what. I mentioned weird food before? I rivaled all of that with one meal. In one sitting, I ate abalone, sea cucumber, potentially fish stomach, shark, and sweet black bean dumpling soup (the last one doesn’t sound weird, but look at it and tell me you want to ingest it.) There was something else that was gelatinous and had no English translation. My God, the things I’ve eaten…
The last thing to note is that the meal ended and everyone was gone within twenty minutes. In terms of time, Chinese weddings are the opposite of Western ones (from what I’ve experienced on both sides of the spectrum.) The wedding ceremony takes all day and the dinner is over in a flash. Western weddings have short ceremonies (let’s be real, everyone hates you if you have a long ceremony,) and then the dinner is followed by speeches and dancing and you’ll never leave before 10:00 pm. The dinner I attended was ended so abruptly, I would have thought something went wrong if I didn’t know better. But the culture here finds it very rude to sit around a table and chat after you finish your meal. You hustle out and that’s that.
So that was my Chinese wedding experience: Food. Really—there was a slideshow of the couple, a speech I didn’t understand, the bride cried a lot, and there was a lot, lot, lot, lot of (weird, “delicacy”) food.
It was an intense cultural day. Mission “Experience China” complete.