Joe and Du Xue’s wedding took place yesterday morning. It was more of a modern celebration of Joe and Du Xue’s marriage (they got hitched in a courthouse a couple months ago) than a traditional wedding. Unlike every other wedding I’ve ever attended, this one started in the morning and finished before noon. At around 7 o’clock, Joe, his father, Craig, and I were all picked up from the hotel in Ganyu by Du Xue’s relatives and driven to her parent’s house in the country. Du Xue and her family (immediate and some extended family, probably 30 people in all) were all waiting at her house for Joe to arrive.

         

We were promptly welcomed in. The bride and groom, their fathers, and Craig and I all sat for tea on a lone sofa in the sparsely furnished upstairs living room. Like many houses in the Chinese countryside, the house was made almost entirely of concrete and had no heat (it was less than 40 degrees F that day). In another show of the family’s generosity, Du Xue’s father presented Tony, me, and Craig with a gift of tea and chopsticks.

There were many poignant moments during the day, but perhaps the most sentimental of all was at tea when Joe’ dad presented Du Xue with a necklace that had belonged to Joe’s mother.

   

We took pictures of the couple and various family members for just under an hour before we processed out of the house to a restaurant just up the street. Although it was less than a block away, the two black sedans which had picked us up from the hotel were waiting outside the house to carry the bride and groom to the restaurant. Before leaving, her family members set off a string of firecrackers in front of their car, signifying that their marriage was complete and that the bride would not be able to return to her parents’ house for 3 full days.

    

There was a brief wait at the restaurant while Du Xue changed out of the big white “western-style” wedding dress she had worn for pictures into a more comfortable, more traditional-style gown. At this time, Joe conversed with his new father-in-law and acted as translator for the two fathers as they discussed the possibilities awaiting the new couple in their future.

This was the first time that Joe’s father and Du Xue’s parents had ever met, and I felt privileged to witness their interaction through their newly shared son. Du Xue arrived some time later, and the couple, the parents, Craig and I all ate a humongous early lunch in a private room. There was way too much food.

    

After the meal, her extended family poured into the room in droves. Those who did speak any amount of English were eager to use it. Others talked animatedly amongst themselves or socialized with the new couple. As Du Xue’s father had told us during the meal, this was the first time this many Westerners had ever been in Ganyu.

We left the restaurant before noon, as was the custom, and headed back to the hotel. Du Xue and Joe checked into their private room at the hotel. Later that night, Joe busted out a Chinese language version of my favorite board game, Settlers of Catan. When I reflect on their wedding, I’m happy that they were able to bring their folks together and celebrate their wedding. It was a privilege to share in the celebration with their families.

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