Here comes the bride!

Weddings are very odd events, when you think about it.  Here you have two people making the most intimate possible contract, and they do it surrounded by a whole bunch of other people, most of whom have agendas of their own.

At least that was the way it was this weekend in Boston, where my daughter’s roommate married her Taiwanese fiance in the Boston Public Gardens, on grass covered with rose petals under a very individual tree.  A squirrel supervised the ceremony from a horizontal branch.  Everyone in the small group (there were only 25 of us) were related one way or another except my daughter and me, and since the girls have been first room- and then housemates for the last 10 years (and were good friends in law school for 3 years before then), I feel as if the bride is my daughter, too, in a way.

The groom’s family was much the smaller.  Only his father and mother and his brother and his brother’s girlfriend (or possibly fiancee — I didn’t get that straightened out).  They came to American from Taiwan when the groom was a toddler, and everyone else in their family is still there.

The bride’s family — well, that’s substantially more complicated.  She has a mother and a father and a stepmother, and has had since she was 10 years old, when the mother and stepmother-to-be were best friends, and the father decided he’d rather have the best friend himself.  To say this has led to complications in family get-togethers is putting it mildly.  We were all together for the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner on Friday and everything went smoothly; we got through the wedding but at the wedding dinner there was a brief but unmistakable hostile discussion between the wife and the ex-wife.  We hope that my daughter and I were the only ones to notice — my daughter was sitting next to the bride at the table, and she seemed to be caught up in a conversation at the other end of the table.  We hope.

But both women had mother-of-the-bride small bouquets (the updated version of the corsage, I was told) and I found myself wondering what the Taiwanese family was making of it all.  Plus the half-brother and his wife (the stepmother’s son) and the full brother and his wife (neither of them reportedly on speaking terms with the father, although everyone behaved in an exemplary fashion during the festivities) and, since it was a “cozy informal affair,” there were dueling speeches at the wedding dinner table, including one from the stepmother.  Hmm.  Maybe that was the cause of the stay-off-my-turf conversation!  Plus a raft of cousins, one of whom has a wonderful singing voice in spite of being a government bureaucrat in Washington.  And there I sat, eating delicious food and watching the dynamics ebb and flow around the tables.

Apart from the wedding itself, the highlight for me was the troupe of Chinese lion dancers who appeared during the rehearsal dinner.  The bride was wearing a bright red Chinese wedding dress, and the dancers and musicians were all in red as well.  Two dragons leapt and cavorted on the south Boston street, and all of us — the Taiwanese wing of this new family and the oddly-assorted American wing — stood there with eyes shining and oohed and aahed as the dancers came to present the bride, from the dragon’s mouth, a beautiful bright red apple.

As I said, weddings are really extraordinary events.  What kind of wedding does your family specialize in?

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6 Responses

  1. Well, I think that sound fabulous…not the stepmother/mother battle but the dancers. Hooray for culture, huh?

    Let’s see in North Louisiana, wedding are pretty traditional and old-fashioned. They are much livelier in South Louisiana where the actual vows are skipped in favor of the reception and free booze. If I could go back and redo my wedding, I would have gone to a beach or the mountains for an intimate wedding then come back home for a fun themed reception: “Amy and Doug got married; let’s have margueritas”

  2. Weddings, I love them. Not the family battles, I try to stay far away from that part. We do the traditional church weddings and then the reception/party.

    I’d love to have seen the dragon, that sounds so cool. Did you take pics?

  3. Wish I had taken pictures! I’m not a camera person — I married one, and so our family life is well documented. What I should have done is taken some snaps with my iPhone! But as a matter of cold fact I was so astonished at the sight of two lions dancing in the street in the middle of the rehearsal dinner that the idea of recording it photographically didn’t occur to me until much later. I might say that my dazzled amazement was echoed by everybody driving down the street. I could almost hear people saying to each other, “WHEN is Chinese New Year?”

  4. Weddings are traditional here in North Louisiana. Soon-to-be hubby and I plan to have a small wedding. Only family and friends will be there. Some of my friends did not have their wedding in a church. They got married at their parents home and decorated the yard.. That’s pretty old fashioned. I call it a “country wedding.” 😉 But future hubby and I will be married in a church.

  5. Our family has always had informal weddings, for some reason — my sister was married at home and missed her step and slid down the stairs on her approach to the ceremony with my father. She wasn’t hurt, and she and my father retired to the dining room to try to stop laughing. I remember going through the ceremony as her maid of honor trying to think the saddest thoughts I could think and making snorting noises when a giggle tried to escape. The moment she was properly married my sister turned around and said to the guests, “I’ve never been to a FUNNY wedding before!” and all of us fell into hysterics. Oh yes, and the dog was confined to the powder room downstairs and enlivened events by throwing herself against the door trying to get out. Thump, thump, thump.

  6. Haha! That WAS a funny wedding, Beppie. I’m glad your sister wasn’t hurt. The dog adds even more humor to it! You know, that would be a good idea for a scene in a story if you wanted to add humor to it. 😉

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