OK, here goes for part 2 of wedding day frivolities.
I don't know if I've mentioned the clothes yet so I;ll start here.
Nikki had two dresses for the day, a "traditional white" and chinese qi-pao (pronounced chi pow). She started the day in her white, slightly poufy (it had a hoop) srapless gown with a white fur which she tried not to use but the cold got the better of her at times. The bodice was embroidered and there is a faint touch of gold thread through the dress as ell. It really was a beautiful dress but like any bride(zilla) she had tried it on the night before and dscovered she had lost some weight so it didnt sit as well as she would have liked over her hips. I think also part of the blame for that is the hoop had been scrunched in her suitcase for days and didn't let the material fall as well over it as it should have. A few hard tugs of the tulle to try and encourage it to sit well worked OK though and if she had still been worried I would have sewed some coins to the bottom to try and weigh it down over night (by this time we had found ourselves a sewing kit as I needed to sew up my cowl neck so you couldt see the white part of my top. She also had a gold flecked veil tucked into the bottom of her upstyle and low heeled gold slippers
After getting out of the car at the countryside, going through the yelling evangelist (celebrat man), we had some photos in the wedding room and it was time to change into the traditional chines qi pao. This is a fitted red and gold patterned dress with a high collar and no sleeves so again Nikki was going to be cold. She had also been concerned about the fit of the dress as being an australian she has a figure and curves rather than the stick thin silhouette of a Chinese girl. This necessitated the use of three layers of hold me up suck me in underwear (I questioned the validity of adding three layers to make her smaller, but the bride is never wrong). It was quite a set up, there was the hold me in suck me up lift my bum bike pants, a singlet girdle thingy that sat under her boobs giving some lift to her cursed kropp chest, and a corset piece around the center.
The tight dress (and accompanying layers) were always going to pose a difficulty when nature called, but hats what birdesmaid s are for :P And once it was all on, the fac that Nikki had lost some weight meant that she was actually going to be able to lift it up high enough to squat (we thought she may need to remove the dress each time. And when faced with a bladder like hers , all I could think of was the number of times I would need to go up and down those bloody stairs in my bloody boots. LUckily we had a system where we would take turns on who went with her and my turn would be last as by that time I might actually need to go as well, while the other girls may need to go when it was their turn. In the end there wasn't as much drinking as Nikki had feared and she proved Mind over matter really does work and this wasn't as often as we thought it would be.
The three brdesmaids were wearing black skirts (I had understood these were to be long, but the other two had had short ones made and had black stockings), black knee high boots and black tops. We also had a piece of red satin tied around our waists and red flowers on the left side of our heads. All in all it looked pretty good.
The groomsmen wore black suits, black shirts and red satin ties (matchy matchy but again looked good) and Tony had a gold tie.
Nikki had silver diamante jewellry I had bought her off Ebay (I had managed to tone down her equest to a simple necklace and earrings with just enogh bling) and a single strand diamante headband. The veil and silver jewellry came off for the qi pao and gold hoops were added, the head band stayed as well.
I did let out a silent swear word as we arrived and prepared to freeze during the ceremony part while all the guests/onlookers were rugged up in their heavy winter jackets. Tonys mum had a beautiful patterned jacket that Nikki and Tony had bought her and his Dad was in a suit. The groomsmen were Tonys little brother, his cousin (not the go to man in Dezhou - he's married they cant be married) and a school friend Cash.
OK, so we got up to sitting in the wedding room waiting in warmth for lunch... here's the rest of the day.
The set up for lunch is in two restaurants down the road from Tonys house. As we know with me, walking in high heels is a struggle so combine that with very high boots, cold feet, uneven ground, cold everything and within about 2 minutes I was wishing I'd chosen a more sensible pair of shoes. Then we got to the restaurant and I remembered the stairs - ok going up early in the day, a bit of a battle coming down later on after they got wet and dirty.
The restaurant works that there are several rooms with two or three tables of 10 in each room, in this case there was about 250 people in total so we had to use two restaurants, one across the road. Traditionally the bride and groom don't sit together and the women would be in one, men in the other. Nikki of course put her foot down on this one and we were in the only room in the mens restaurant with women in it. Our table was Nikki, TOny, bridesmaids, the two foreigner boys, Tonys cousin and I think one of his groomsmen was meant to be there too but he sat at the other table with school friends of Tonys including a few people who had taught with Nikki in PUtian.
We started the meal with the rest of the sparkling (red) wine Sam (foreigner) had bought from Shanghai as "you can't get married with out champagne" (he thoght this particular bottle was rose and we had already had a taste of Australia - Jacobs Creek - at the hairdressers in flimsy plastic cups). Everyone said a toast around the table and drank with each one. It was then back to the chinese staple - beer. Other tables were drinking Chinese liquor, baijo, but we were soft (sensible) and stayed with beer. This is the same as 've explaied, smaall wine glasses that you filled and sometimes skolled, but other times you could just sip, depending on who toasted.
Then the food started coming (about 10 dishes) some were familiar meats I had had before, and was happy to try again, some not so familiar slightly greensih looking ones I avoided. There was also some amazing vegetables, just simply cooked with small amounts of flavouring, my favourites are broccoli (first time I'd had it in China today), beans and capscium. The beans and capsicum often come with a little meat and are quite salty but very nice.
After the first 10 dishes Sam (english english teacher now living in Shanghai) and Mel (bridesmaid) headed into have a drink with Tonys Cousin (go to) and ended up drawing all attention into that room by dancing to the band that was in there at that time and when I went to join them I coldn't get into the room as everyone in the restaurant had crowded in the door to watch the crazy lawai. That didn't stop the men though from pointing at me and my height and then shoving me (literally) through the throng where I then had to dance with whichever lucky man was pushed to the front. Tony then came in and we had to go back to the room as more food was coming and we were distracting attention from the happy couple.
Pretty soon it was my turn for a toilet run and we headed down the back across more uneven ground in the freezing cold where I ran interference and made a door so Nikki could duck into the litle concrete box that is the 'toilet' and battle with the layers on and off. I was also responsible for taking tissues and passing them in. When we got back upstairs more food arrived and we were off again with another few dishes coming out, including some spectacular fish dishes (I just heard on the TV that new year feasts always include fish dishes as the character for fish also means abundance, so I guess that applies here as well.) I did take a photo of one of these dishes the day before which I will eventually post.
There were some more toasts, (it was too cold to drink the whole glass, plus I didn't really fancy another trip to the toilet until it was my turn again so where I could I only sipped.), still more food and then the "main course" (most substantial part of the meal) bread rolls. The bread here is steamed, quite heavy, but delicious. Once the meal was finished everyoe kind of just left. and there was only us foreigners left. Also, more people came than they thought and Tonys dad hadn't had anywhere to sit so he was now eating downstairs.
There was also a cake which Tonys (goto) cousin had organised and so we (foreigners only) set about demolishing that, and demolish they did. In tradition of a chinese birthday cake there was soon more around the room and on faces and clothing than had actually made it into our bellies. At this point I was very glad of my goal keeping skills and was able to amaze everyone by batting off all the chunks flying at me and managed to remain semi clean.
We then headed downstairs to have a couple of drinks with Tonys dad, and again I managed to sip as I had now decided squatting in my boot and standing up again was not going to be an option and the western toilet at the hotel was calling.
Once we went back to TOnys I couldn't change from my boots to ug boots quick enough. We decided I would come back to the city and then stay at Tonys for three nights after we go back on the 27th. I just hoped Tony managed to translate that to his Mum so she doesn't think I don't want her hospitality.
In our car on the way home, I began to wonder about the mental state (tired/i hope not drunk) of our driver as he unwound his window and stuck his head out like a dog and then stopped for water. When we got into the city, my suspicions were confirmed when he had a little nap at the traffic light ad didn't notice the green arrow.
There was talk about going out last night but when no one had knocked on my door by 10pm I correctly assumed it wasn't going to happen (by 8:30 ish I was over it anyway and ready for bed). Then about 10:30 there was a knock on my door asking if I wanted some dinner, so we ha some noodles and dumplings about 11ish, a bit late for normal, but although I feel as though as I can get by on the one main meal a day, when food is offered I become hungry.
Oh, my other highlight for the day. I was kind of able to communicate with someone. I needed a new key as the one I had didn't work and I was able to say I don't understand in mandarin and then beckon and grunt that they bring me the new key to next door. And then I sad thank you. not much, but a start.
Photos will follow, but they may be easier to upload when I get home, as Sam took most of them on his camera and will send them to me at smaller sizes.