One major problem with this wedding is of course the fact that I live in Nanjing, which is on the other side of the country compared to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, my husband’s hometown, where the whole show will go down. He, on the other hand, was in Beijing and now is in Shenzhen, also far, far away from his place of birth. The only one who is on the ground is his mother, who owns a kindergarten, which from what I can tell means working 24/7. There is never a time I speak to her that she is not running about to sort something work-related.
So how on earth do you organise a wedding like this? With WeChat 微信.
The software that combines all the best features of chatting, tweeting and instagraming is a must for any person wanting to communicate with anyone in China.
After combing through Dianping to find the wedding company, I got in touch with them exclusively online. I have seen my planner once briefly when Mr.Li tried to video chat while he was at their headquarters to see her proposal.
Not being in one location also means it is a bit of a back and forth in terms of communication, since I am not paying for the wedding, I don’t feel comfortable making final decisions that involve finances. For example, the most recent question related to flowers. The planner told me that depending on how many flowers we want, it is quite likely that the flower bill will be over 3000 RMB. Now I would enjoy flowers but they were not a must, and the cost is substantial. My next step in the process was to talk to Mr.Li, who unsurprisingly agreed that this was a lot of money and he was even less surprisingly not that bothered about having flowers there. As men are. I told him to talk to his mother though, since I knew she would have her own thoughts on the issue. Then he informed me that his mum wanted flowers, and that we should sort it out between us. However, she has been ill, so I haven’t felt comfortable pressing her about it. In the end, when I did mention it, she told me to make the decision together with the planner. As you can see even a simple question such as flowers involves a lot of back and forth, when everyone is in different locations.
However, that is the price you pay when you decide to be a “working bride”. According to Mr.Li it is very common for Chinese women to take time off work to organize their wedding, and my friend Cherry, at whose wedding I was a bridesmaid, actually spent over a year in Nanjing not working, instead focusing on wedding prep. These are very insightful examples of the attitude towards jobs and career in China, an endlessly fascinating topic that I will certainly want to revisit more at a future point.
In the meantime, I remain glued to my phone as I discuss flowers, colours, themes and music with my planner, whose surname incidentally is 谢 as in thanks. Thank heaven for her!