Finally after a few month’s preparation our wedding day was here. On the day before we had made offerings to the ancestors by burning ghost money and offering them food and drinks. We also fired some small firecrackers, but nothing compared to those on the morning of our wedding day.
My parents-in-law also prepared our new bedroom with red bedding with dragon and phoenix embroidery. Auspicious items, apples and red pockets were placed on the bed in order to bring a child to the family soon. We also decorated both the new and the old house with red and blue fabrics and decorative items. Blue to represent Finland and red to be the symbol of China.
I slept surprisingly well the last night, right next to my husband against the tradition in many countries. It was out of the necessity as we already had all of our rooms full because of family members. And we couldn’t use our new bedroom before the wedding day, it had to wait behind a closed-door.
I woke up before 6am and got ready for the hair brushing ceremony that brings good luck to the new couple. Traditionally it should be done by my own mother, but because she isn’t familiar with this Chinese tradition, my mother-in-law gladly took her place.
After a few strokes of a brush and auspicious words, I was ready to start my make-up. I had invited a professional make-up artist to make me pretty and she also took care of my sister (maid of honor) and the two mothers. I almost fell asleep again when she asked me to close my eyes while applying eye shadow.
I had decided to wear a lace qipao during the Chinese wedding and it fit perfectly, the only problem being sitting down and some very interesting attempts to sit down or stand up were seen on that day. My make-up artist had chosen to create a very simple hair-do for me with three red and golden flowers. After all of this beautifying and dressing up, I felt such a confidence during the whole day that I have never felt before. Wow, I actually looked pretty good!
At 8.30am it was time to come down the stairs and let my husband to see me for the first time. It was also the first time for me to see his handsome suit that fit him so amazingly. Blue and red together just like I had planned months before.
While others started to get ready as well, we went to the old family house (our new home) to take pictures. I remember thinking it was the right choice to hire a professional photographer, as the photos will be one of the lasting memories of our wedding day.
Many Chinese couples, if not everyone, take pre-wedding photos in photo shops and dress up in multiple outfits posing for the camera in different settings. As me and my husband usually prefer something more simple and down to earth, we wanted to have photos at our new house instead.
The picture above is one of my favorites from that day as we are posing in front of our home. I think this photos illustrates how our two cultures go together and our appreciation for preserving the old.
Our photographer Andy had great ideas and tips for our photos, he was always giving as directions on how to pose and be more relaxed. Being a wedding photographer is his second job, but still last year alone he photographed more than 50 weddings. If you are planning to get married in Guangzhou, I would love to recommend Andy for you.
Posing for the photos wasn’t easy for me, but the beautiful outfit and the newly found confidence helped a lot. These photos are from the first batch Andy send us and we will receive the finished pics later when he comes back from his one month trip of cycling around Tibet.
At our new home we opened the door to our bridal chamber thinking how this room will be the hearth of our home for years to come. Of course I didn’t think how hot the second floor is during Summer and as we don’t have AC yet, we have been sleeping on the cooler first floor for now.
Smiling comes naturally for my husband, but the photographer had harder time to get me show my teeth! Later that day I needed to ask my little brother to tell some jokes to get me laugh.
My husband Alan is usually the one to make funny jokes and poses!
The rainy season had started in Guangzhou before our wedding on 2nd May, but on that very day it seemed the heaven wanted to bless us with sunshine. I’m not a religious person myself, but my mother-in-law it must be a match made in heaven or something to have such a wonderful weather for our wedding day!
For my wedding bouquet I went for fabric flowers as real flowers don’t survive long in the humid Summer weather, I wanted to have one more lasting memory of the best day of my life. I finished the bouquet with silk ribbons, red and blue of course.
At 10am it was time to start the important tea ceremony. First we offered tea for Alan’s grandparents that had passed away. We burned incense, asked for protection and blessing and poured their tea on the floor.
After that we offered tea to all the elders of the family, including my mother. Kneeling down was really hard on my red qipao, but with my husband’s firm had I managed to do that without falling down. On the right my sister and one of my bridesmaids are helping us to give tea to Alan’s parents.After giving tea and wedding candy to the elders, they gave us red pockets filled with money and some gifts.
In China a wedding is not a real wedding if some firecrackers aren’t involved!
Ready, set, go!
After the tea ceremony it was time to get to our cars and head to the wedding banquet. I had chosen a beautiful lace umbrella to match my outfit and following the tradition my little sister in blue hold it above me from the front door to the car. My mom and little brother are following us in the background.
The every bride’s best wedding planner, Pinterest, gave me an idea to have a finger print guest book. The two red ones forming a hearth are mine and Alan’s. The guest book was placed on the table where the guests would give a red envelope to my mother-in-law. She also did a great job in ordering everyone to leave their finger prints and it turned into a beautiful piece of art we will hang on our home.
When all the guests had arrived and we had taken group pictures with almost all of them, it was time to “walk along the aisle to the altar” or more like follow the red carpet to the small stage.
With the classic wedding music and colorful confetti we walked past our family and friends to the stage.
There is never enough colorful pieces of paper in a Chinese wedding!
At the last minute one of the bestman’s had decided we should have a exchanging the rings ceremony in front of everyone. That was already the third time we had exchanged the same rings, but it did make some nice photos. (First time was when we got engaged last year, second time during the official wedding ceremony).
A kiss to seal the happy marriage!
What is common for both Chinese and Finnish wedding are the speeches. Us, Alan’s parents and my mom all gave speeches that were translated to Cantonese and English for everyone to understand. I broke up to tears when listening to my mom’s speech and had to squeeze my husband’s had very very tightly.
After the speeches it was time to eat! Of course we as the newly weds only had a few minutes to eat and then we separated for our own responsibilities. Alan went with the red wine to cheer with all the guests and had his bestmen to follow him. O course he couldn’t have drunk the real thing from the first to the last guest, so they have prepared a mixture of tea and wine for him.
At the same time Alan’s mom lead the way for me and the bridesmaids to offer tea for everyone. What was new to me, was that all the guests would give small red pockets of money to the tray as well. The sums were small, but the most important things was the tradition.
Our Chinese wedding banquet ended after 1pm and I was already exhausted. But this was just the beginning, the Finnish party would start in a few hours! But that’s another story for the next blog post.