Silvercat - 8/30/2007 4:23 AM ET
Wow! What a fascinating adventure for your family! Thanks for sharing...
I had brought all my money in travelerís checks. I was assured that at the hotel I could exchange them for Yuan. I brought one thousand dollars for Jesse and Iris for a wedding gift. I also had five hundred for us to spend. I went to the desk to exchange the money and they said they could cash the five hundred, which were fifty dollars each but not the ten one hundred dollar travelerís checks because they were blue. The clerk said I could try the bank but it was closed on Saturday. I just slipped the travelers checks in a card with a red envelope for Jesse hoping that we could exchange them at his bank later. It is traditional to give money in red envelopes at Chinese weddings. Kilah put fifty American dollars in Yuan in a red envelope for Jesse also.
We were waiting for Jesse to come and tell us where the restaurant was where he was getting married. He said it was near the hotel. Finally he came and gave us all cards with the restaurant listed and the address in English and Chinese. The wedding was to be at six pm. We all got in cabs and arrived at the restaurant just before six. Jesse was still in his shorts and T-shirt. We had the entire second floor of the restaurant for the wedding. It was decorated beautifully with pink and red balloons, flowers and candles.
There was a small table with a lilac tablecloth that people were putting presents under. We put our envelopes there. I mention this because there is more to tell about this later.
We had quite a wait until the wedding started. Jesse and Iris walked through an archway of balloons to a beautifully staged area with flowers and many decorations. Iris wore a white dress and Jesse a dark suit. Jesseís best man Irisís maid of honor followed. Music was playing during the whole ceremony. There was a man in a pink shirt speaking in Chinese directing the wedding. He was not a religious figure. He seemed more like a master of ceremony. Although I couldnít tell what he was He was saying he was very expressive. There was a young man from the restaurant who was telling me what was going on but it was distracting to me to try to watch the wedding and listen to him too. It was a long affair. They exchanged rings, lit candles, and drank wine, poured a champagne fountain and did many other things. My favorite part was when Iris came up to Dave and gave him tea and called him Daddy and gave me tea and called me Mommy. Jesse did the same for Irisís parents only in Chinese. Dave and Irisís dad gave a speech as well as the maid of honor and the best man.
Then they went to each table for a toast. After that they went to the balloon archway while everyone snapped pictures. It was very informal. Anyone who wanted to have their picture taken with them went up there and did. Everyone with a camera was snapping pictures. This went on for at least half an hour.
Andora was there mostly being tended by her aunt and passed around by all the relatives. I knew she had a loving extended family and she didnít know me at her young age. There was not anything for me to do to let her know I was also some one special in her life and it made me kind of sad. I knew I would be going home soon and she would not even remember me but I was grateful that she was surrounded by so much love. I will be sure to visit once a year and try to form a relationship with her.
Then they brought out the food. It was all Chinese food except for some pizza. I ate the
pizza. Dave doesnít like pizza so he went hungry. All the food was beautiful but mostly seafood and vegetables, which I donít care for. I made an attempt to try some of it to be polite but Dave didnít even bother. I didnít try the fish sliced up with the head and tail still on or something that looked like an assortment of sea creatures that I have never seen before. One good thing there was Coke on the table for me.
Then there was dancing. Iris had changed into a red dress, which is traditional for Chinese weddings. She was even more beautiful. The music was all in English. Everyone danced with everyone even women together. They even danced the Chicken Dance. Everyone was having a great time.
We were tired and decided to leave with Daveís sisters. We walked home. It wasnít very far and it was a cool night. The only thing was I was in heals which I rarely wear. Other than that it was a very pleasant walk home.
Just as we got to our hotel as I was crossing the street a woman with a baby in her arms followed me across begging. I was afraid to stop and open my purse so I had some candy favors from the wedding and gave them to her. Her young daughter approached me across the street and I handed her a flower. It was a stupid thing to do but I was panicked and didnít know what to do. There are quite a few beggars around Beijing and I think next time I go I will just keep a few dollars in my pockets to give out so I donít have to stop and open my purse. My son says I shouldnít give money to them because that only encourages more to come to Beijing. I donít have a good answer to that. I just felt bad for not doing something to help that girl and her mother. When I got back to the hotel room I remembered that some of the candy had pictures of Iris and Jesse on them. Oh well I hope the little girl enjoyed the candy anyway. It was a bittersweet ending to a wonderful day.
Tips from a weary traveler:
Donít wait until the last minute to exchange your travelerís checks
Evening is a great time to walk in Beijing. It is cool and there are many other walkers.
If you want to give money to the beggars keep some small bills in your pocket
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