Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Big Fat Chinese Wedding - The Prequel

This picture was taken near the end of the banquet but the wedding photographer documented the entire day - from the preparation through the wedding night activities. Junmei was nice enough to share these with me so that I could better understand more of the wedding traditions.

The action starts off about 10:30 in the morning at Junmei's aunt's apartment.

Here the make-up and hair artist gets to work.

The transformation continues. It looks like it was sort of a party. All the bridesmaids, various aunts and uncles were there.

The nails were done a few days earlier.

Everyone else was left to their own devices - no professional help.


All this activity started about 10:30 in the morning for a 5 something wedding so lunch was prepared by one of the uncles. The bright red stuff on top is hong fen pi or red sheet jelly from bean starch. It is served on happy occasions.

Lunch is served.

The transformation is complete. This dress is not the wedding dress it is the 出门 (chūmén) or "go out" or "leave home; go on a journey" dress.

In fact, 出门子 (chūménzǐ) means "to get married" (for women).

Here we see the groom arriving with his best man and some aunts, I believe. The younger girl will have the responsibility of putting the bride's shoes on her.

Notice the red bundle that the woman in the red coat is carrying. More on that later.

The groom has arrived and the bridesmaids start what will end up being a more or less continuous hazing of the groom. They will refuse to open the door until he gives them a hongbao or red envelope with some money. He will then have to answer a series of questions. Then they will try to close the door but he and the best man will push their way in.

Once inside the groom will have to pass a series of challenges to get through the next door.

He will be told that the bride can't leave because her shoes are missing. Here he found one inside the pillow.

Here the bridesmaids insist that he eat some candy before passing through the door behind them where the bride is waiting. Of course the candy is flavored with garlic and pepper.

Finally, he reaches the prize.

Here is the content of the red bundle. There are 4 apples that are matched with 4 from the bride. This invokes the phrase 四平 八稳 (sìpíng-bāwěn) which means "very steady" or "well-balanced" and represents the wish for their future life together.

The red and gold piece is actually the 5th dress, a qipao that the bride will wear home from the wedding.

A baby boy (the younger the better) is placed on the bride's dress as a wish for male children.

Finally, Junmei's mother places some money in a belt that arrived in the red bundle. Some brides wear the belt under their wedding dress.

After all the procedures at the apartment, the wedding party loads up into 5 cars, red of course, for the ride to the wedding venue. These 5 BMWs were supplied by the wedding event company.

The bride and groom arrive at the restaurant where the wedding ceremony will be held.

The hazing of the groom continues.

All the wedding guests were gathered outside for the arrival and have now moved back in and are greeted by the bride and groom.

After dinner the bride has changed into the last dress but the frivolities continue.

This hair decoration was hand made by Junmei to go with her qipao.

We pick up the story back in the new couple's bedroom. Notice the wedding picture above the bed. I'm told that almost every home in China has a wedding picture hanging above the bed. If not, it has been replaced by their child's picture.

Here one of the groom's aunts prepares the wedding bed. It is important that the woman chosen for this task has a complete family - husband, child and parents. The striped sheet is symbolic of something. The red is for the groom and the green is for the bride.

If you enlarge the picture, you can see that she is throwing peanuts and chestnuts on the bed. Chestnuts are 栗子 (lìzǐ). The 子 also means child or son thus chestnuts are a wish for fertility.

Here they eat 餃子 (jiǎozi) or dumplings. Earlier they were asked 生不生 (shēng bù shēng) raw (uncooked) or not raw. They answered 生 or raw. (The dumpling were not raw - just not fully cooked.) Why you ask? Because  生 (shēng) can also mean to give birth. There's the 子 character again, also.

Here the photographer wants to create the illusion that they will spend the rest of the night flipping through an album of their engagement photos.

I checked the time stamp on the picture and it was almost 10:00 PM. I can imagine about this point the bride and groom told the photographer and aunties to get the heck out. They probably wanted to do something besides look at pictures.

The honeymoon in China does not usually follow the wedding immediately. There are a few traditions to be upheld within the next few days. About 1 week after the wedding the couple took a trip to Saipan together with one of the bridesmaids who was married the week before.

Here is a link to the first set of pictures if you missed them. --> A Big Fat Chinese Wedding

No comments:

Post a Comment