(Ed. Note: I am feeling a bit disheartened and apprehensive about continuing to post these stories. While a lot of you seem to enjoy them and the feedback has been very positive, this past week I discovered that a website (http://bestweddingspeechs.info/) stole my post from last week, “Wedding Follies, Part 3″ and posted it on their site, including the photos. I have attempted to contact them requesting they remove it, but they are ignoring those requests. It is especially uncomfortable because this is our personal life (although I am aware that it is a risk one accepts when choosing to publish something on the internet). For the time being, I will continue to post, but I obviously am struggling with whether or not to continue.)
Because my husband and I both live away from our hometowns, because we knew his family would want to have a wedding celebration in his hometown that they could all attend, and because my family was visiting for only a short time, we ended up having two weddings in less than a week. That’s right – the wedding in the city we live in was on Monday, and the wedding in his hometown was on Saturday! Are we crazy, or what (don’t answer that)?!
Unfortunately, this meant that on the day after our wedding here in Hebei, we had to make the long, 15 hour trek to Inner Mongolia. So after approximately 3 hours of sleep, my husband and I drug ourselves out of bed at 3am, grabbed our things, and headed to the hotel our families were staying at to depart. Luckily, his parents had rented a large 15-passenger van and drivers, so although the day was very long, we didn’t have to worry about anything once we got in the van and started out.
We made our way to and through Beijing, and through the Inner Mongolian countryside to my husband’s hometown. Once we arrived, we had a few days to spend visiting his family, eating, watching my parents learn to make dumplings, eating, confirming details with the wedding company, and eating.
We’d met with the wedding company while visiting at Spring Festival and had decided on a lot of details at that time. My husband’s mother had also been busy since that time, so I assumed that most everything was set.
I was mistaken.
When we met with the wedding company, it turned out that we had to tell them all over again what we wanted and didn’t want (I’m not sure why we bothered filling out a paper that said exactly this the first time we met them). We also discovered that the ceremony was not planned at all – something we’d thought his mother had done. We decided to do a near-copy of our first ceremony (thank goodness we had experience with this sort of thing!), but now had to explain it all again to a new host. My husband even had to explain the tea ceremony to her during rehearsal (and I thought this was a Chinese custom)! Needless to say, she was not our favourite person…more on her later.
With all this running around and last-minute planning, as Saturday loomed I was glad we weren’t doing the full wedding again – we were starting at the “greeting people as they arrived at the restaurant” part.
We actually got to sleep in a little on Saturday morning, ate breakfast, and then headed back up to the hotel room where the hair and make up lady met me. She did a great job (although I did make her re-do my hair once), even though she seemed very nervous to be working on a foreigner.
At some point in the morning, a videographer showed up and started filming us. He filmed me getting made up and also spent some time in my parents’ hotel room with them and my brother (I think filming them wishing us well, but I’m not sure, since I haven’t seen that video). Finally, my hair and make up were done and I was ready to get dressed. My mother and my husband prepared to help tie me into my dress, but…
“Uh, camera guy? Yeah, I don’t know you that well. You are most definitely NOT staying in here and filming me while I change!!”
I don’t know exactly what my husband said, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t a direct translation. The guy even had the nerve to protest, but my husband put his foot down. No weird strangers in the room while I change clothes (at least not of the male variety).
Dressed and ready, we all made our way downstairs to welcome the guests. This was actually a point of issue earlier, along with toasting each table during lunch, because it didn’t seem to be a custom in my husband’s hometown, so his parents were not sure if we had to do it. We finally decided that since we didn’t even know most of these people who were taking time out of their day to attend our wedding (many of them even giving gifts of money to us), the least we could do was personally welcome them and toast them to thank them for coming.
Perhaps at this point I should mention something my husband’s father told me at Spring Festival. I am apparently the only foreigner to marry a Chinese person in their hometown (I could have it wrong and it could be that I’m the only foreign woman…but either way, I’m rare). I’m something like 1 in 400,000. You can probably see where this is going – lots of staring, even amongst my husband’s extended family and their friends and colleagues. Many of them didn’t seem to even know what to do around us.
Anyway, we welcomed our awestruck guests and then my father and I made our way to a room at the back of the banquet hall to get ready for our walk down the aisle.