So, our first weekend living on the mainland, somehow we inadvertently became wedding crashers! (As you do!)
It was Sunday after all and following a mammoth Saturday exploring Xi’an, we decided the “Beach BBQ” under fairy lights sounded rather inviting for us newbies in town.
After a lazy morning, we high-tailed it out to one of Xi’an’s ‘other’ premier hotels where the “beach” BBQ takes place each week.
45 minutes later after some rather manic, bumper to bumper traffic, where the road rules are harder to decipher than Chinese characters (er, what road rules?) we arrived (in tact) at our destination.
Ok – so our man-made beach was a little on the disappointing side….but coming from Australia, really who was I kidding!
In my mind I was (naively) hoping for this…
But what we got – in the middle of China – (of course!!) was this…
Not to be discouraged, we settled ourselves back on one of the wooden ‘beach’ chairs and felt the…. ah… sand between our toes… to watch the evening unfold; meanwhile Ava wasted no time in familiarizing herself with this ever so conveniently located pirate-ship playground!
In no time she had a flock of local kids (and adults) around her, apparently keen to adopt her as their English tutor for the day (the adults more so than the kids I have to say)!
They no doubt thought they’d hit the jackpot stumbling across this blonde pocket-rocket who’s favorite hobby is talking! I’m sure I could hear her revealing our family secrets – (just as well their English wasn’t at the advanced stages).
It was about now we noticed the big ‘faux’ beach truck on the gritty fake sand being loaded with pretty pink balloons, and each chair with one pink balloon strategically ‘stuck’ to the back of it.
A rose archway magically appeared, the brightly colored pirate playground making a unique backdrop, along with a couple of blinding spot lights beaming in on the wooden tables with their blue plastic tablecloths and crockery steins bearing serviettes and chopsticks.
The BBQ buffet we’d come for was coming to life, so we thought we’d better get ourselves off the beach (as enticing as it was) for a spot closer to the food action.
We propped ourselves where we could still see Ava bouncing on the seesaw (or coming face-first down the slide) with her new friends – by now mostly bigger boys about eight or nine, whom she had no qualms about bossing around!
The crowd started swelling as the wedding guests arrived for this auspicious occasion.
First things first, this was clearly a low key affair. It was mostly a jeans and t-shirt dress code with the odd, sparkly head band and diamante shoes – that came to life under the spotlights. (Pretty much like the city of Xi’an itself, I’m discovering!)
So we watched on with amusement as everyone casually took their seats as if it was just another Sunday barbie, which in all reality, it was.
By now, we started realizing we might be a little too close for comfort to the wedding party…. but apparently, according to the hotel staff – this was perfectly fine and normal! The regular diners carried on chewing their beef skewers under the stars (slightly obscured by the
polluted hazy sky) blissfully unaware of the nuptials taking place.
Sooner rather than later, the bride and groom appeared in all their spectacular glory, the bride looking every bit as glamorous as you might expect a bride to be, in her silk white gown and tiara — dashing groom at her side. I’m choosing to think these two hadn’t met at one of China’s “Marriage Markets” whereby parents desperate for their daughter to marry put out an ad including their age, height and salary!
I wasn’t sure what was about to take place but assumed the proper ceremony must have taken place earlier for things to be ‘oh so relaxed.‘ Alas this was not the case, a ‘man with a mike’ appeared on the beach party bus, looking like he might like to roar off into the Hawaiian sunset at any moment.
Rattling off his well rehearsed speech (in mandarin of course), the bride and groom made their way down the “aisle” to a ballad of classical Chinese tunes.
It was about now everyone clambered around ‘our’ table to get a good view of the action!
I tried in earnest to hear a word here and there… but managed little more than ‘I do’ – clearly the exchange of rings helping my cause!
Confetti poppers erupted and cheers broke out. I’m sure this is where they said “I now pronounce you man and wife” and I found myself clapping along and snapping photos! What?!
Ava’s new bestie “Fiona” was the flower girl and when her duty required letting off one of the confetti canisters, Ava was most disappointed she couldn’t join the bridal party!
Not to be outdone, as the happy couple made their way back to the dining area, I turned around to see her tagging along in line with the bride and flower girl, much to the giggles of several onlookers!
According to Chinese custom, professional photographs are taken before the wedding ceremony, so it was time for the newlyweds to let their hair down!
It was ‘Campai’ all round (also known as toasting)! The bride and groom stopping at each table, their steins raised in celebration (did I mention it was a German-themed BBQ)? I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if they stopped by our table on their rounds.
As I gingerly approached the buffet, I found myself ever so conspicuously in line with the wedding guests. Attempting to work out if the beef on metal skewers being sprayed with hot spices would blow my head off, I really was hoping the ground might just open up and swallow me.
Ava, on the other hand, clearly not afraid to made her mark – snagging herself a party favour of chocolates, courtesy of the bride and groom; while I found myself watching the couple’s happy moments on the big screen to the tune of Bruno Mars “Just the way you are!’
Low and behold a shot of Sydney’s Opera House flashed up, showing the loved up couple on Sydney Harbour.
Ahhhhh…. way to make a girl feel homesick on a fake beach in north west China, eh!
Ironically, rule #7 in the movie, Wedding Crashers was “Blend in by standing out”
Well, maybe….just maybe…. we did!
PS…it would seem the locals really aren’t too fussed about who the guests are at their weddings! We just got an ‘official’ invite to a wedding next week from someone my husband has only spoken to twice. Oh, and he’s been asked to give a speech. I think Ava and I will definitely be crashing that!