Tony's family won't be coming to Canada for our actual wedding ceremony, but it was important to us that we celebrate with them somehow. We decided to have a dinner with them while we were in Henan for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). Somewhere along the way, the "wedding dinner" turned into a small wedding ceremony (minus the legal stuff—we're not actually married yet).
I thought you might like to see some photos!
His whole family—parents, brother and sister-in-law, niece, cousins—pitched in to help get things ready. We had the ceremony at his parents' home.
One of Tony's cousins gave us this huge flower arrangement! His sister-in-law asked if I wanted to use it as my wedding bouquet. I told her I'd need something smaller, there was no way I could hold it for that long; it was heavy!
Tony got ready at home and I got ready at a hotel.
Luckily, even though we didn't know we were having a ceremony until we were already in Henan, I had had a dress made for the dinner. Traditionally, Chinese brides wear red. I just wanted a twirly dress :)
Side story: I tried on a few red wedding dresses at a market (the ones I could fit into—most Chinese women are tiny and the dresses reflected that; I was even stared and laughed at), but didn't find any I liked that were within the price range I was willing to spend. So I took photos to a tailor and had one made. Even though I gave them specific instructions (via Tony translating), the dress didn't turn out the way I wanted and I wasn't a fan. Oh well.
I was impressed with the speaker Melissa made so we could jam while we got ready.
I was so happy Melissa was able to come and celebrate with me. It was nice to have a friend there, and someone who would understand what it's like to be an "outsider." I was kinda nervous about the wedding, so it was nice to be able to hang out with her and get ready together beforehand.
We were sitting at the hotel waiting for Tony to come pick me up, when all of a sudden we heard fire crackers going off like crazy! We didn't know that would happen, but somehow I knew it was for us. Next thing we knew, there was so much knocking at the door!
Tony had to "bribe" Melissa to let him in by giving her hongbaos (red envelopes filled with money). He offered her one, and she said no. He offered her four, and she said okay, but before she could open the door, I yelled, "No! Four is an unlucky number in China! Six!" So he gave her six hongbaos :)
Poor Melissa had many roles that night: Guest, "bridesmaid," MC, and photographer. The photos were all just taken with our phones, and she was pretty busy, so some of them are blurry, but I love them. They are some of my favourite photos ever, because they just bring back all the happy feelings from that night.
My bouquet still ended up being pretty big!
There were so many people with Tony! Some of them I'd never even met!
The ceremony was late at night—after midnight!—because, as I was told, "It's bad luck to meet dead people." After some back and forth, I was able to find out what that meant: If you drive to your wedding ceremony during the day, there's more traffic, and a chance of meeting a hearse. Apparently driving past a hearse, containing a dead person, is bad luck.
This photo might be my favourite. Dark, blurry, but showing so much happiness. He had just leaned over and whispered to me, "You're so beautiful." For real, sitting in the back of that car with Tony, I don't think I've ever been happier than that moment. It felt like a wedding. I remember thinking, "This is what I thought it would feel like! But I couldn't really imagine it!" It made me so excited for our "real wedding" in July.
There was a loooong line of cars, all decorated! I was so happily surprised to see them!
We drove to Tony's home with firecrackers being set off the whole way. When we got there, our car was surrounded by fireworks! SO MANY FIREWORKS! I couldn't believe it! It was amazing!
As I tried to get out of the car, his family stopped me. Apparently, my feet weren't allowed to touch the ground. Tony carried me up to his apartment on the second floor. (He'd never carried me farther than a few steps before.) Hilarious!
The ceremony was a blur. I really don't remember that much. I remember bowing to a picture of Jesus 3 times (T's parents are Catholic), bowing to his parents 3 times, bowing to the guests 3 times, and bowing to each other 3 times. I remember telling the guests the story of how we met and started dating (Tony left out the one night stand part). I remember Melissa giving a little speech and I teared up (This also made me really excited for our wedding!). I remember laughing and smiling so hard.
Afterwards, we played a couple of games. The apple game you see above (someone hangs an apple, we try to bite it, they move the apple so we kiss), and we go into the bedroom (scandalous!) and guests come in to get hongbaos.
The whole night was so fun! I was nervous for nothing!
How cute is this guy cleaning up after the celebration? ;)
Funny story: These candles are "wedding candles." I'm not entirely sure what they represent, but we found out it's supposed to be bad luck if they get blown out that night. Tony walked close to them and his mom freaked out. Melissa went to take a closer look and T's mom freaked out. I went to take a picture, and you guessed it... T's mom freaked out. She really didn't want us to have bad luck! They were left burning over night and all the next day.
Sad story: Our wedding dinner was the day after the ceremony. I was really sick and missed most of it :(
And there you have it! Our China wedding!