The oldest and meanest female train attendant knocked him on his ass after only a few moments. He even tried to prop the door open with his duffle bag, an action which was looked upon with great scorn. China's train operators are NOT messing around.Alex: My friends will be here in 3 minutes.Angry Lady: The gate closes in 2 minutes.Alex: Please. They are in the station right now. They will be here very soon. I know they are here.Angry Lady: The gate closes in 1 minute. Will they be here in 1 minute?Alex: I need, quite literally, 2 minutes. An extra 60 seconds. Please please let them in, this is for my friend's wedding. They have to get on this train.Angry Lady: Do not care
Alex, Jim and Nina showed up on time, around 11pm on Saturday. We immediately killed a bottle of Jim Beam and went out clubbing. It was raining hard, we had no umbrellas, and we were soaked. Alex dove repeatedly into the wet grass outside the bar we were at, and we ended the night at the seedy nightclub Coco. Joe and Amy arrived early the next morning.
We all just hung out on sunday, so fast forward to the day fo the wedding. The six of us, plus a few of Esther's friends, all went to Xiaoshan, to Esther's home. There were three tables of Esther's family there for lunch, plus a table for my/Esther's friends.
Traditionally in China, the groom would arrive at the bride's home with his crew and pick up the bride. While at the house, he would serve her parents tea. Then he would whisk her off to his home, signifying the transfer of their daughter to his family.
We didn't do any of that, mostly because i don't have any family in China. I just showed up with my posse and ate lunch. Afterwards, we all spent an hour getting prepared for the wedding that evening.
Again, traditionally in China, there is no wedding ceremony. You get married days earlier in a courthouse, and they don't exchange rings. There are no vows and no church. Therefore, wedding is really just a party: dinner and drinking.
Here's what we did:
- 3pm - Arrived at hotel/reception location. Ensured everything was ready/planned what we wanted to do.
- 4pm - Drank beers by the lake out back/took some wedding party pictures.
- 5pm - Greeted guests as they arrived.
- 6:18pm - Jim, as our MC, began entertaining the crowd by interviewing Joe, my best man, and Jia Jia, Esther's maid of honor. Jim's chinese is excellent, and so was he. I also set my laptop up and video conferenced my parents on Skype, so they could watch the ceremony.
- 6:28pm - Esther and I walk down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon and much fanfare, notably smoke machines and bubbles.
- 6:30-6:40pm - Jim interviews us, we talk about how we met, we exchange rings (weeping openly), and pop some champagne and cheers everyone.
- 6:40-6:48pm - The Slideshow.
Esther and i had about 3 minutes to eat dinner. After that, we went around to each table toast everyone. Esther had to give a cigarette to each man, and i had to toast everyone. Every. Single. Person. Normally, they'll make the groom drink whatever person being toasted is drinking, often bai jiu. I played the foreigner card and drank only beer. Still, probably 3-4 bottles of beer in about 30 minutes. Lucky for me, Chinese beer is only about 3%. It was fun though, i got to meet people like chuchu de mama de baba de meimei (esther's niece's mother's father's younger sister).
The night ended with karaoke. Esther and I got sang one song, as is customary, but her cousins and relatives sang one after another, meaning that we actually had no use for a DJ. At 9pm, the party abruptly ended, and we all hurried to pack up and vacate the reception area.
Here are some pictures.
That's our names in lights below, and Esther's parents.
... but this is what it felt like. Especially during the toasting... esther's mom was just dragging us from table to table, moving fast. Half the tables were cleared out by 8pm. I wasn't drunk, mind you, but i did meet 160 of her relatives in a matter of 30 minutes.
And just like that, we were married.