Tag Archives: wedding

Wedding Guests: China vs Europe

Right, so finally it’s time to get back on topic: WEDDINGS! That is after all what this blog is all about, isn’t it? The only excuse I have for not keeping up my writing until after both weddings have happened is that now I have both wedding experiences; the better to compare. This is what I intended all along! *wink wink*

So, this is the first in what I think will be many comparative posts on our two weddings: the wedding guests.

Now, if you’re not already aware, there is a difference between your average Chinese wedding and you average European one (and by average I mean non-celebrity, mere mortals like myself) in terms of the guest list. While in Western media there is an on-going joke about how everyone wants to be invited and how the guest list gets out of hand at a wedding, generally I have found that most weddings of my friends and family have fitted into the reasonable-sized category. Mostly around 40 to 70 guests, I’d say. At our German wedding we only even had 25 guests; and that nothing to do with us wanting to save every Yuan we could and all to do with the fact that we decided to keep it highly exclusive, VVIPs only, you know, like the highly exclusive people we are. (You think they bought it?…No? Damn.)

Now in China, even daring to consider having such a small number of people at your wedding is an irredeemable insult to your ancestors. And you ancestors’ ancestors. And you ancestors’ ancestors’ accountant. Again, it’s all about that face, ‘bout that face, no trouble. Hoping Meghan Trainor won’t throw a copyright lawsuit at me for borrowing her legendary lyrics for inspiration. Anywho, digressing again. At a Chinese wedding, lots of people equals face and so the more people attend the wedding the better. Not only that, there is actually a financial incentive to make it as bloody big as possible.

Let’s have a wedding to make some money!

What on earth, financial incentive?! Yes, indeed. While in the West, we are busy losing hair about whether or not to invite Great Aunt Beryl, because that will mean another 60 or so Euros each to pay for her, and her husband and her two brat kids, in China you’ll be sure as heck hoping that Great Aunt Beryl brings her cousin twice removed and their whole clan. Because of the Chinese tradition of giving red envelopes filled to the brim with cash, rather than another embroidered gold toaster to “start married life together”, a Chinese wedding is seen by many here as a) an opportunity to make rather than spend money and b) earn back the money that they’ve spent on other people’s weddings – as you did with Great Aunt Beryl’s two brats. I have to say, they’re really onto something there and thankfully my mother decided to “go Chinese” in terms of wedding presents in Germany and our 25 exclusive guests generously followed suit. Thank you for that!

Intimate Affair vs. Catwalk Spectacle

Now, if you are more of the type of person who prefers an intimate affair for a wedding with just your closest friends to give it all more weight and meaning, the Chinese way certainly isn’t for you. In China, the parents-in-law will literally invite anyone and their dog (as long as the dog brings its own Hongbao of course), with the big company bosses being particular favourites since they rake in the most money. It means that on average 200 people will show up at your wedding, 90% of which you’ve never met before in your life. Especially from our Western perspective, we can quickly feel like this makes the wedding incredibly impersonal and just doesn’t feel right. Indeed, Mr Li was completely won over by the intimate ceremony idea. To this day he will tell anyone who is willing to listen how he much prefers the intimacy of Western weddings.

On the other hand, if, like me, you enjoy feeling like an A-List celebrity walking down a huge catwalk with 200 pairs of eyes on you, this will probably be one of the best days of your life. Especially considering that people even paid money to look at you, it’s almost like you’re Beyoncé…well, minus the voice of an angel and the sexy dance routine. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never get this much attention again!

suchavip
Feeling like Beyoncé – if only I could walk sexy in this dress..
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Goodbye 2015, Welcome 2016

I know it is slightly cheesy to do the “last year roundup” post and sort of the obvious choice, but still at this time of the year reflecting on the past 360 odd days is just what you do, right? So here goes my exiting 2015, a crazy year of traveling, moving and marrying.

January – March

The first quarter of the year was definitely travel-heavy. After spending New Year’s Eve in Vienna, we traveled to Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macao for Chinese New Year, but only after finally tying the knot in Hohhot on Feburary 9th. It was the grand finale of half a year of bureaucratic battle between China and Germany; but we both won in the end. World, welcome Mr. and Mr. Li (well, haven’t really changed our names yet, but just for show, let’s pretend, ey?).

Restaurant Inner Mongolia

April – June

The second quarter of the year took Mr Li to Shenzhen and me with him part-time, as my employer in Nanjing generously allowed me to work remotely for a number of stretches. I really enjoyed Shenzhen, it’s a multicultural city that offers everything that’s great about Hong Kong but at mainland prices. Good food, seaside and fresh air; Shenzhen has since become one of my favourite Chinese cities and I do hope to spend more time there one day. This part of the year also got fairly busy in terms of wedding as Mr. Li and I took our engagement pictures, one of my Top 3 moments of 2015, and I went on a little excursion to Suzhou going crazy on Wedding Dress Street and ending up with not one, not two, but THREE wedding dresses. And just over my 1000RMB budget; you’ve got to love Suzhou.

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July – September

Definitely the busiest and craziest quarter of the year. After landing a job in Beijing, where Mr. Li had returned to after a few months in Shenzhen, I was sad to say goodbye to Nanjing and my job as Executive Editor for Sinoconnexion. The two years I spent in the Southern capital were an amazing ride and there are many things I still miss about my NJ life.

But I had little time to mourn what was gone as August rolled around and so did the crazy wedding. My friends and parents came from all corners of the world, and I cannot tell you how glad I am that they did. The wedding was bombastic and stunning, the wedding planners I had so painstakingly picked out did a fabulous job and while the whole day kind of went by in a haze of nervousness, hunger and Baijiu-incurred drunkenness, it was crazy fun.

But no time to rest yet as two of my best friends stayed on after the wedding and we climbed the unrestored section of the Great Wall, rushed to Nanjing for a dose of Southern Imperialism and spent a day in Shanghai gallivanting on the Bund. Still waiting for my visa transfer, I then embarked on a two week-long trek to Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces with my mother-in-law, a bonding session that taught me a lot about my husband and myself. I still plan on writing more about this experience in this blog.

October – December

And just like that I had become a Beijinger. We found a ridiculously expensive flat in a fairly central location. It is terribly grand; the decoration reminds me of what Chinese people think the UK looks like, visions of Downton Abbey and high tea. I haven’t felt more at home in years.

I also started my new job and struggled with adapting to my new life and my return to “full-time couple” after two years of long distance. It’s been a rocky first three months in Beijing as I’m still trying to find my place and as the infamous pollution has reached new and pretty intolerable levels.

December was busy with more traveling; a short trip to Shanghai for work and a busy Christmas in Hong Kong, where finally after over 20 years of waiting, I visited Disneyland. It was every bit as fun and incredible as I hoped it would be.

Welcome to 2016 – What does the future hold?

I can honestly say that I have absolutely no clue. I remember spending my New Year in Vienna last year thinking “Wherever will I celebrate next year?” Now more than ever I have nit the faintest idea. Beijing, another Chinese city or back in Europe? It is all possible. The only one thing I know for sure is that in July 2016 I will be in Germany, and visa be well so will Mr.Li, for our German wedding. New year’s resolutions? I don’t have any. Life in China is so changeable, there isn’t really any point. Any resolution you make could be overthrown at any second. But I’ll say this for our China life. It never gets boring.

What were your highlights of 2015? And what are you looking forward to in 2016? Let me know!

The Wedding Photos – Larger than Life

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So, finally the wedding photography company completely finished editing and printing out our photos. Hip. hip, hurray. My favourite part of this entire wedding is of course the tradition to get professional and nauseatingly kitshy/glamorous engagement pictures taken and then have them printed out in inconveniently large sizes for your in-laws and yourselves to hang aaaall over the place – seen as we are not vain enough as it is.

engagement pictures

Now, I have to admit, I did not quite realise what I was signing up for when I decided it was the smartest logistical and financial choice to get the pictures taken in Nanjing. Thanks to my generous boss, who brought his car for the pick up, we were able to get the pictures to the office. If it had not been for him, there would have been no way I would have managed to get those humungous pictures back to the city centre. I mean, one of them is actually almost as tall as I am. No kidding!

Though, before going on about what to do with the scarily-sized images I have no idea how to shift, I have to say a MAJOR thumbs up to our wedding photography company. As I mentioned in a previous post, I found them via Dianping, what a lifesaver, and the deal they offered was really top-notch. 3700 RMB for minimum 250 photos, 130 photoshopped, seven different outfits, a qipao or wedding dress chucked in for good measure, three photo albums, three really large framed photos and countless smaller ones, really good photography skills and an incredibly talented and lovely make-up/hair stylist. If you ever find yourself in need in Nanjing, Bazaar Wedding Photography (芭莎摄影会馆), in Jiangning district, New Metro Shopping Mall; I can whole-heartedly recommend their services.

wedding-pics

Now, I am really at a loss as to what to do with all the photos I have now, especially the super large ones. They do not fit in a suitcase and even if they did, what with my five wedding dresses and all the other stuff I will have to drag up to Inner Mongolia in August, there will hardly be enough space. I am probably just going to have to send them per messenger, always assuming that they will actually get there. When Mr Li comes round to visit me here in July, I might try and offload as many of the pictures as possible on him, the poor guy.

So, yes, I guess I did not think that through too much, whoopsee. Wish me luck in finding a permanent home for them; my 40 m2 studio flat would just be ever so slightly overwhelmed if I just kept them there, and more importantly I might be moving soon-ish.

The good news is that Mr Li was stunned by the results of the shoot and I got to spend about half an hour listening to him scrolling through the pictures on his phone and telling me I look stunning or amazing. I’m just lapping it up right now, who knows when I will get to hear such lovely things again!

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