Last year when Bryant told me he was engaged to be married, I practically invited myself to his wedding. I told him that no matter where I was in the world I would return to New York to witness the nuptial. On July 7, 2012 I was one of the privileged guests at an extravagant and elegant affair that was fun, festive, and filled with happiness. It was wonderful in every way- a picture perfect couple with costume changes, an unbelievably delicious Chinese banquet meal, a great way for me to see so many of my friends (looking all hot and fancy to boot), and a Lion Dance thrown in there for good measure. I even learned a thing or two about some Chinese customs and tradition, particularly the proper etiquette for gift giving.
The whole affair started with a beautiful wedding invitation, in traditionally lucky color red, sealed with the Chinese character representing double happiness- 囍.
The wedding took place at a large Chinese restaurant with giant crystal chandeliers and gold trimmings everywhere. But the ceremony itself was Buddhist, with two Buddhist monks presiding in English and Chinese. The bride stood in a beautiful white cascading gown and the groom was there in a dapper tuxedo, flanked by chanting Buddhist monks.
The handsome couple, their first dance, and a shot of Elaine’s gorgeous dress.
Elaborate sculptures at the wedding, including some made out of watermelons and vegetables.
After the ceremony we learned that the restaurant had lost its liquor license a week prior, and it was to be a dry wedding. What now!? Our shock and panic were short lived however, as my trusty friends Pete and Ray quickly came to our rescue. They smuggled in a bottle of vodka for us and while they were out, I emptied a Sprite bottle to refill it with the clear liquor to facilitate inconspicuous consumption. The girls and I did a round of vodka shots out of Chinese tea cups to start the evening- the best use of tea cups ever.
I had, in anticipation of the banquet meal, skipped lunch. It was a wise move on my part. The dinner was spectacular (menu and lots of photos below)… There were endless carts filled with trays of whole roasted suckling pig, enormous T-bone steaks, giant bowls of shark fin soup, abalone, lobster, etc. It went on like that for hours.
I came up for air/ looked up from stuffing my face to see that Bryant and Elaine had a costume change, and playing a newlywed game…
Of course there was no way we could finish all the food. The staff at the banquet hall started setting food aside for the guests to take home. This photo of the fried rice below doesn’t do justice to how delicious it really was… the next day! I took back to Janice’s house at least 6 very large takeaway containers.
As this was my first Chinese wedding I asked around to find out what the most appropriate gift would be for the couple. The answer, unanimously, was cash. I was told that ideally, the amount should include the number “8” which is considered to be auspicious and sounds like “prosperity.” Combinations of 8s or the number 8 it was to be… so I went with $168 in 8 bills, in the following manner. One $100 bill + three $20 bills + one $5 bill + three $1 bills = 8 bills! More 8s the better, right? The only thing I failed on/missed was putting the gift in a red envelop. Argh! I was so close!
Another example of “8”- the couple gave each guest a little box of these chocolate “gold” coins. There were 8 of them in the box.
This photo below is for you, Janice! I know you desperately wanted to be there to see the grand scale of the wedding and the Chinese banquet hall (well, and to eat). BTW, there was a whole other section of tables to the right and to the left…
After dinner, Bryant’s beautiful Mom started a conga line that circled the entire perimeter of the banquet hall. And the night continued with more dancing, laughing, and silly group photos at the cool photo booth they had set up (think red carpet VIP entrance with paparazzi photographers). It was truly a fantastic evening. The couple has, by now returned from their honeymoon in Bora Bora. I really need to check in with them and say hello…
I am so happy to have been able to share such a special day with them. I wish you all the best, Elaine & Bryant! Congratulations!!