The authentic village wedding in Hubei

Makeup for special moments (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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!

A winter morning in my hometown (photo by Shanti Christensen)

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.

My mother and her three children(photo by Shanti Christensen)

Zuofei's caravan arrived outside my house (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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..

Bride and bridegroom(Photo by Shanti Christensen)

According to local custom, Zuofei distributed cigarettes to men guests and candies to women guests. (Photo by Peikwen Cheng)

My father was talking to his son-in-law.

My father shares a few words with his son-in-law. (Photo by Shanti Christensen)

Just imagine what my father might be saying. “Be good to my daughter, or I will beat you!”

Photo by Peikwen Cheng

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.

Thanks to family and friends for coming to celebrate with us! (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

Photo by Peikwen Cheng

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?

These men take turns to carry me on their backs. (Photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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.

Photo by Peikwen Cheng

Nearly arriving at the gate of Zuofei's home, his aunts take the lead (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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)!

Zuofei's cousins hold a simple wedding ceremony and we do as we are told. (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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.

Guests grab candies and hope to have happiness passed to them (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

Our room in Zuofei's parents' home (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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.

The wedding singer i s singing to himself (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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!”

Peikwen and Shanti tried teaching us how to dance in the afternoon (photo by my brother)

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.

This auntie grabbed me suddenly to go downstairs and collect "tea money" (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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.

My new immediate family(Photo by Peikwen Cheng)

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

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Cultural differences and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The authentic village wedding in Hubei

  1. Zuo-Fei Yuan says:

    A special day for all of us. Still remember it.

  2. Renee says:

    Congrats! Cool pics.

  3. Ting Zhou says:

    Best wishes for you, my dear friends.

  4. wulongict says:

    That’s cool!!

  5. SEABIRD says:

    幸福的一对,天长地久!
    浓浓的亲情,回味良久!

  6. MorningStar says:

    Best wishes!

  7. mitnk says:

    congrats!

  8. zhang jingfen says:

    庞斌和我一起看的,虽然是英文,我们还是仔细读了下面的注释,真好玩。我也是湖北人,但我们那里的风俗还是有点不一样。我们那里没有背新娘的习俗。但穿红鞋子那一段是一样的。你们的婚礼真浪漫啊!庞斌说,他最喜欢的也觉得最最幽默的是老丈人和新女婿说话的那张,故意处理成黑白的,而且像是老岳父在教训女婿,女婿乖乖的听话的样子。菊玲家的三个孩子长得好像啊,尤其是姐妹俩。我们老二也是女儿,还没出生,但我们一直在想,妹妹是不是和姐姐长得很像呢。

    第二天庞斌跟我说,他晚上做梦说我们一家到弗罗里达去度假了。可能因为我们俩结婚的时候没有举行婚礼,当时我们俩都嫌麻烦,其实举行一个浪漫又随意的婚礼也是非常值得回忆的,庞斌只好遗憾了一下下,心里大约盘算着怎么弥补。我说,正好你都梦见度假了,那咱们就真的去一趟吧。庞斌很爽快答应了。赫赫,算是让庞斌看你们的婚照,让我得到的实惠吧。

    衷心祝愿你们幸福永远,也感染身边的每个人。

    • Zuo-Fei Yuan says:

      感谢张师姐和庞师兄的阅读和留言。很高兴你们家二女儿要出生了,恭喜^_^。我们把身边有意思的事情记录下来,和大家分享,你们回复的故事也让我们感动。生活可以多姿多彩。

    • 哈哈,我也最喜欢那张照片。师兄将来有的是机会教育自家女婿了:) 他肯定在想象这幅场景呢,哈哈
      师兄看博客居然给师姐带来了实惠,我深感荣幸哈。
      俺也感觉到了你们在大洋另一边的幸福呢。期待能见面:)

  9. Susan Jiang says:

    It was a special moment for you. All I can feel is the happiness. May you be happy life long! I do not know why I could not help crying when I read this artical, but I really can feel the cozy atmosphere. Congratulations!

  10. What a beautiful day, Adeline and Zuofei! I loved reading about this special time in your lives, and seeing pictures. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Jinxin Dong says:

    好浪漫的婚礼啊@-@!习俗也很有意思!要是吧全国各地的结婚习俗都总结在一起的话,那将是很好玩的一件事情呢!

  12. Marshall Bern says:

    Wonderful pictures and commentary! I wish you both long life, good health, and great happiness.

  13. Dong Liang says:

    Real pictures with real love behind.

  14. 毛书明 says:

    很有仙桃特色的婚礼!

  15. Evan says:

    Truely, the photos and commentaries are wonderful. What a great thing I can visit this webpage by accident. It is hard for me to image that in such traditional place in China can have such a talented woman who have great inpiring mind and fantastic written english.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>