Saturday, March 9, 2013

Indonesian-Chinese Wedding

On Saturday, March 2, 2013 I went to the wedding of a relative of one of my colleagues. It was another wonderful experience that I will never forget. I got to be included in the family part of the activities so got to see lots of the behind the scenes. I met my colleague/friend early in the morning about 7:45a.m. to travel to the bride's parents' house. We were ushered upstairs to the bride's room where she was just sitting and waiting for things to start. She looked like a beautiful doll, all made up. She had to get up at 3:00a.m. to start with makeup and everything. She had a ball gown type dress and it looked like it was heavy.

Then we went out the kitchen area, so that she could keep relaxing. Set out on the counter where items that were for the rituals/traditions they were going to be participating in. Everything is done in red and gold. The red bowl of rice with the coins is thrown at the groom when he arrives at the house. He has someone holding an umbrella overhead so that he is not hurt when it is thrown. It is for good fortune. The wine glasses the bride and groom will drink from after they see each other for the first time. They will also eat some food. In the larger bowls is two hard boiled eggs for fertility. Noodles for long life and some mushrooms. In the smaller bowls are figs, which they eat to give them energy. The tea cups will be filled and presented to the parents and grandparents. While the Mom's and grandma's give the bride bracelets or necklaces, gold, and the fathers and grandpa's will give the groom ampang (money).

Waiting for her groom
After that I went back in the bedroom with the bride's parents and photographer. The parents take the veil and place it over the bride's face. Then, they help her stand up and position her with her back to the door that the groom will come in through. After they got her positioned I went outside to wait for the groom. He arrived in a car with the groom's men. He brought her bouquet for her. It had pink, gold, and purple roses. After he got out of the car the father's oldest sister threw the rice and coins at him. He was wearing white gloves.

Being led to his bride

After that his parents each take an arm and escort him into the house. Before the reached the bride's room they turn him around and walk him into the room backwards so they start with each other back to back and then they slowly turn around. People who are still single are not supposed to be in the room and see the bride and groom see each other for the first time because it is said that then that person will not marry. I decided to take the chance and be in there will my friend waited outside. After they were turned around. The groom kissed the bride's hand and arm and gave her the bouquet of flowers. Then, he removed her veil from her face and kissed her on the forehead. She removed the glove from his right hand, but he wore the white glove on his left hand for the rest of the day. Next came the drinking of the beverage in the wine glasses. They opted not to go with wine, but fanta instead. The beverage was room temperature and I think was a bit stronger of flavor than the bride was expecting so it made her cough a bit. First, they took a sip of their own glasses and then they gave each other a drink of the others glass at the same time, after that they hooked arms and twisted their arms so they could drink out of their own glass again.  Next, they were given the noodle, hard boiled eggs, and mushroom dish. They fed each other the eggs. They ate with chopsticks. They don't break the noodles because to not break the noodles leads to long lives. After that they shared the figs.

One put the fig between their lips and the other took a bite. After that the bride's parents came in and they offered the tea or fanta (I couldn't see) to the parents. Next, the Mom gave the bride a gold necklace and the Dad gave the groom the ampang. Once that was done the three bride's maids and three groom's men joined them. The bride's maids stood next to the bride and the groom's men gave his bride's maid a kiss on the hand and then handed her the ball of flowers. The groom's men's ties match the bride's maids dresses. Once they had finished that they went downstairs to the living room and presented the tea cups to more older relative and were given more necklaces or bracelets and ampang. Once all the morning ceremonies were over they wedding part headed off to the church for the church ceremony. I didn't attend because it was a regular Christian church ceremony and was all in Indonesian, (so I wouldn't have understood any of it even if I am familiar with them). I stayed with the part of the family that didn't go and we ate lunch. I went back to my house for a short period of time before I was picked up for the reception. I changed clothes since everyone was going to be dressed nicer. That morning I wore my white baju kurung with purple flowers and in the evening I wore my fancier baju kurung that was purple. I wasn't sure if it was an occasion where I needed to be really covered like in Malaysia, plus I don't have many fancy outfits here. It was a good thing I love purple and already have two purple outfits to wear so I fit right in.

The reception was at the Zhang palace. It looks ok from the outside but it very fancy on the inside. It was also decorated really nicely. The family signed in and received their souvenir gift. They got one for me too. Both the invitation and souvenir were Korean themed but nothing else was. We arrived a little early so we got to see part of the rehearsal. The bride had take off her sheer top that went over her top, so now her neck and shoulders were bare. She switched from the long gloves to fancy arm guards. She had her hair in a different up-do with flowers by her ears and the veil was gone. She also had a different clip in her hair and a tiara. The groom still had on his left glove. They took some pictures. They took one with the grandma and all of the children (siblings of my friend's dad). Then they took a picture with all of the grandchildren and great grand children. I was put in that picture and I ended up next to the groom. It is a large family. After that the family went to their tables and the bride, groom and parents left the room. Once most people arrived then the reception began. It started with both sets of parent's being announced and walking up the center aisle. After that came the bride and groom. They asked the bride and groom some questions in Indonesian and then they gave them each a wine bottle filled with fanta or a red liquid. People used to have the double happiness symbol, but this couple had the word love. They poured their bottle of red liquid into the two openings so that it filled the love up. The bride hesitated a few times at the end because it looked like it was going to overflow. The groom finished first. I was told who ever finished first that is the sex of their first baby. (I noticed as the night went on the level of liquid went down, but I couldn't see where it was going. There wasn't an exit that I could see.)

After that both sets of parents joined the bride and groom on the stage and they were all given the cocktail glasses filled with the fanta. We all stood up and toasted them. They had a several acts throughout the night. It started with a man and a woman that sang love songs in English. They sang on and off throughout the night. We started the several course meal. I didn't eat many of the dishes since I am not much of a seafood person and I am kind of hesitant having seafood in setting like that since it is hard to know how long the food has sat out before being served. While we started with the first dish a man came in carrying a woman over his shoulder that had a turnkey on her back. He wound her up and they danced to a Brittney Spear's song. After that the hair and make up guy, who is very famous here, came and sang a song. I guess that is part of his deal. Is that he always comes to the reception and sings a song. With his hair, makeup and outfit I almost felt like I was back in the 80's. He kind of reminded me of Tina Turner back then. (There is this huge mechanical arm in most of my pictures since they were video taping everything.) After the hair dresser's song, two ladies came in and sang in Chinese. They were wearing the same dress but sang solos. Next was the tango by two couples. (They had quite a mix of entertainment.) Then we watched a video of the earlier part of the wedding day. I was in one shot where I was in the bride's room looking on. It was a shock because I didn't even know that I was being recorded.
I am not quite sure why they use swords, but they used a sword to cut the massive cake, just like my student did at her Sweet 17 birthday party. They shared a piece of cake and then they gave a piece to their elders. That too is similar to the Sweet 17 birthday party I attended. It is showing a sign of respect for the elders. After that the two female singers came back out together in flapper type dresses and sang another song in Chinese. Followed by a couple who did the salsa. After that the parents and bride and groom came up and drew for the prizes they were giving away. Another commonality to the Sweet 17 birthday party. They gave away some nice phones and a diamond necklace. That was pretty much the end. The whole time during the entertainment we were eating and my friend and I tried to visit between courses but they always play music so loud in Indonesia.  Not many of her family speak English so I could no visit with many of them and get to know them. Some of them thought I was very beautiful, so they wanted to take quite a few pictures with me. I had a wonderful time and glad that I was able to experience this occasion and get a behind the scenes glimpse at the traditions.