I had the privilege of attending the wedding (as a groomsman, no less!) of my best friends, Monica and Fox! Here are some highlights of all the antics that went down, starting 24 hours before walking down the aisle:
The gang thought they picked up golden mylar balloons that spelled “LOVE”… but opening the pack, the first couple letters were “H” “P” “D” “Y” and we freaked thinking that we got a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” set… but after blowing up and sorting out all the balloons it actually said “HAPPY WEDDING”, which was a bit funny but still thankfully relevant. Anyway the balloons were impossible to stick the wall, and letters kept falling off throughout the evening
In a traditional Chinese wedding, the groom and his guests have to go to the bride’s home before the wedding, and beg for her hand in marriage. There are lots of games held to test the groom’s devotion before the bride is set free and can finally leave the house, and I got a taste of how some of this plays out. (on the car ride over I had heard horror stories where the groom was so frustrated/ humiliated with the situation that he leaves without the bride and cancels his own wedding- yikes!!)
So it is a bit like a fantasy video game with a half dozen levels, combining both strength and wits to clear all the challenges and reach the bride. Except instead of demons and goblins we have in-laws, which, if relationships are not properly managed, could be worse than video game monsters 🙂
Level 1: As soon as the elevator door opens, we step out but realize the door leading to the hallways has been forced closed.. and the first challenge is to rip the door open. There’s a lot of heckling from both sides but the bride’s guests finally relent and we get through unscathed.
Level 2: the apartment door is locked shut. We come prepared with red envelopes and “bribe” various in-laws to open the door for us. A guy pulls out his phone and demands Fox pay him via WeChat – but Fox cleverly says there’s no wifi in the building and he only has 3G, averting a costly showdown. Eventually we give enough money that the front door opens.
Level 3: of course, the bedroom door (where the bride resides) is also locked shut. Monica is trapped in her castle tower with four bridesmaids, who also – not surprisingly – need some red envelopes before we are allowed in. The girls refused to budge for the longest time until the adults were nervous we would all be late for the wedding, and they finally relent.
Level 4: now, things get tricky. Monica presents Fox with a napkin that has been kissed by the five girls, leaving five lipstick stains of various shades. He has to correctly guess which set of lips belongs to his future wife. He guesses incorrectly and the girls pull out a tray of sesame balls, normally a welcome treat, but these have been laced with mint toothpaste and Sichuan peppers.
The groomsmen are sacrificed and take turns eating the sesame balls as punishment. I suspect the game was rigged as Fox’s first four guesses were all – allegedly – incorrect (statistically unlikely), and we are forced to finish the tray of repulsive, stomach-churning snacks.
Level 5: we are presented with a loaf of sliced bread. By this point I was certain there was arsenic and laxatives baked into the crust, but no, it gets more interesting. Using our teeth we must bite the bread into pieces that can be assembled together to form Monica’s surname, Ge 葛. I didn’t even know her last name was Ge, and I have no idea what this character looks like, so I make a bunny with my bread.
We failed! but the wedding was already paid for, so the games continue!
FINAL LEVEL: Monica’s shoes have gone missing! She can’t possibly leave the house until we find her shoes! They are hidden somewhere in the room. I rip open the wardrobe doors and I’m ready to *TRASH* the closets much to Monica’s shock and horror, but the guys are fast and find a shoe under the bed and another behind the curtain. Yay! Game Over! We get to leave for the banquet, with the closets intact!
Bride Wars: Spring is wedding season in Lanzhou, and it’s impossible for a bride and groom to find a venue just for themselves on the weekends here. There will be multiple weddings going on at once, and this was the scenario we faced as well. Both brides were standing across from each other in the grand foyer greeting their guests; more than once a little kid ran up to greet the wrong bride 🙂
The wedding planner is meticulous in his plans, and at the start of the banquet the groomsmen and bridesmaids must walk onto the catwalk in unison, paired together by height. Monica and Fox follow and they look so thrilled in the moment – Fox in particular is overwhelmed with emotion. I couldn’t be happier for them, and it was a real treat to see two of my best friends in Lanzhou get married… aww!
As groomsmen, its our job to circulate throughout the banquet and force everyone at each table to take a shot of baijiu with the groom. Obviously Fox would be dead if he took 200+ shots, so the responsibility is shared amongst the guys. I was initially looking forward to taking part in these antics, as the tables have *finally* turned, and I could get my revenge and shout at everyone “DRINK YOU WORTHLESS SCUM!” “TAKE A SHOT!!” “AWW, DON’T TELL ME YOUR ON ANTIBIOTICS!” “ARE YOU SICK? DO YOU HAVE A DOCTOR’S NOTE?” after having this happen to me so many times already at other weddings.
But, I would of course be required to drink my share of liquor in return, and – unlike Carey Elwes killing off Vizzini with iocaine powder in The Princess Bride – I haven’t been working on my alcohol tolerance at all these past two years……and no one wanted to see a groomsman puking mid-wedding, or worse – drunkenly snatching food off other people’s plates, or throwing a glass of Sprite in a kid’s face, etc – so I was relieved of my duties early and was able to enjoy the rest of the banquet as a mere commoner.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen initially planned to throw a big KTV party later that evening, but we were all so exhausted from the past two days of chaos that we postponed the karaoke madness for another weekend… stay tuned!