On a pitch-dark cold morning of January 29th, my cousin drove Shanti, Peikwen and myself to a hair salon in the town of Xinjie (新街) to glamorize me for my big day. Shanti noted every time I wear makeup, we are together! I realized she was absolutely right. For me, wearing makeup is always related to special moments and unforgettable memories. This time both Shanti and her husband Peikwen came to share our special moment. My husband Zuofei and I thank them for their warm and inspiring friendship!
When we returned to my home, the morning dawned fresh and clear, indicating a bright sunny day in contrast to recent weather of dark skies, rain and snow. It seemed we would be blessed especially with beautiful weather.
Cars arrived at my house in the early morning after driving three hours from Zuofei’s house. Their journey began at 4:00 a.m..
Just imagine what my father might be saying. “Be good to my daughter, or I will beat you!”
After I dressed, my mother did not allow me to wear the gold shoes I had intended to match with my western wedding dress! I really wanted to wear the gold shoes! I succumbed finally. I obeyed her and wore a pair of fancy red shoes to leave my home. Several days earlier, my mother told me I could not wear the red shoes when I return home for future visits, otherwise I would bring bad luck and poverty to my family. It is better to keep the red shoes in my in-law’s home, which may bless my mother with longevity.
My mother warned me not to look back after Zuofei carried me and before arriving at Zuofei’s house. (This means the daughter will belongs to another family in all her life-no divorce. ) She even gave me an example seriously: one of her playmate looked back when she got married, and she was drowned in a pond later.
Shanti, Peikwen, my brother, and my sister rode in other cars to accompany us to Zuofei’s hometown. Usually the bride’s brother(s) is the most important person to go with the sister, which means that the bride’s parents have son(s), and the bride’s parents’ family is powerful. This is defined by local customs. In my hometown custom, if a bride does not have a brother, her parents will arrange an uncle (usually the father’s brother) or a cousin (usually the father’s brother’s son) to go with the bride as the parents believe that they will be shunned if there is no male person to go with their daughter. Complex rules, right?
Around noon, we arrived near Zuofei’s home where men in special costumes beat drums and lit fireworks to welcome us. The men took turns carrying me on their backs until I arrived at Zuofei’s house. This is Xiantao (仙桃) village custom, just for fun. Actually, I felt very uncomfortable. My thighs were sore and I was surrounded constantly by deafening fireworks and drums noise. Ok, for their fun I put up with it! Zuofei told me about this custom before, and I once discussed with him whether he could be the only person to carry me on his back. He agreed, but it was not acceptable by the family and relatives.
Traditionally, two women who have several sons and husbands alive and healthy, lead the bride to the in-laws’ home. This is believed to bless the new couple will more sons and descendants. Come on! Actually, we both want to have daughter(s)!
We bowed three times. The first bow is to the sky and earth, for they nurture all. The second bow is to the parents (usually the bridegroom’s parents), for they have raised us. The third bow is to each other, indicating we should love and respect each other.
After the simple ceremony, all the guests were scheduled to lunch while I stayed in the room by myself. I was told that two kids would serve me lunch and I needed to give each kid a hongbao (red envelope containing money). Unfortunately, the kids forgot and I was hungry! Later, my husband Zuofei fed me.
In Xiantao, if there is a red stage like the one at our wedding, it means somebody is having a wedding in the family. The performers sing songs all day mostly to themselves and there is no interaction between the singers and guests. The stage and singing is the same as a loudspeaker announcing to the village, “Zuofei has married!”
Zuofei has more rhythm and he learned more quickly than me.
Peikwen told us in western wedding ceremonies, the bride and bridegroom has the first dance while all guests watch and applaud thereafter. Next the bride dances with her father and then her father in-law while the groom dances with his mother then his mother in-law. Then all the wedding guests join and dance together.
At dinner, I was required to sit with another nine people at the special table upstairs. There were ten dishes on the table. As each dish was served, I would eat first.
Suddenly, Zuofei’s auntie rushed at me and took my hand, bringing me downstairs. I was wondering what was happening? I could not understand her for she spoke Zuofie’s hometown dialect. It turned out she would carry a platter of red bags filled with candies, eggs, and other contents to every table and distribute one package for each guest. I followed her to collect the so-called ‘tea money’. It sounded weird. Ok, just do as Romans do.
What I loved most was the pair of heroic couplets (对联，Duìlián) at the door. Zuofei’s talented uncle created it especially for us, with our names included strategically.
上联：作案陪吟天崖海角爱牵霞飞 下联：菊窗伴读海枯石烂情系玉玲 横批：人天月共圆