After San Diego, my dear sister suggested we have life-size cardboard cut-outs of ourselves so that anyone can get a picture with the bride and groom. I kid you not, there are some group portraits where I am right in the middle of the picture with the boy and I don't know anyone.
They were mostly our parents' friends, and since this was their party, I had to oblige.
But I did manage to get some shots with a few people I actually know. Here are a few of them.
[This is my grandmother. She likes sewing, knitting, gardening, and Chinese television dramas.]
[These are my sisters. The both live in the SF Bay Area. The boy says that I have an entirely different laugh when I'm with them than I do with anyone else. What can I say? They're my best friends and are the few people who understand my impersonations of our mother.]
[This is my cousin. I don't know if I have ever shared the story of how we met, but we actually met at college. In the same dorm! We're distantly related, but our parents saw each other on move-in day, recognized each other, and we've been friends ever since. She is also getting married (hooray!) and you can follow her journey on her blog.]
[And this is us. I felt it necessary to take a few shots like this to keep it real. The boy is smiling because he smiles a lot. He told me yesterday that one of his co-workers always asks "Why are you so happy?" because he smiles so much.]
That concludes my banquet recap! For anyone planning a Chinese banquet in Sacramento, we had ours at Rice Bowl Restaurant and we received a lot of compliments on the food. They also let us bring our own alcohol, so we had a "mini bar" for anyone that wanted to get a little bit tipsy. But I would advise any brides/grooms/anyone to get dressed elsewhere because that changing room is window-less and smells like roast duck.
As a final note, I might be complainingalot, and I do make fun of my mother, and enjoy arguing with elders when I find something absolutely ridiculous...and rolling my eyes...and being the most American of Chinese daughters...but I am really glad that we had the banquet. Not only was it important for both of our parents, but it was an important tradition for many of our relatives and also a celebration of our family. Growing up, the Chinese Banquet was THE wedding celebration, and I had never experienced anything else until I got older. I'm glad we could continue the tradition.
[For more banquet craziness, I recommend watching Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet--luckily our experience was less dramatic.]
[All photos, except for the one she is in, taken by my sister]
Despite three hours of portraits and having to grapple with tradition and customs, our cake cutting was pretty fun.
[Top: The obligatory cake cutting shot. Bottom: My parents' wedding, San Francisco, 36 years ago. Their cake totally rocked more than ours.]
[Him: Mo, can I smash cake in your face? Me: What? I didn't hear you I was too busy cutting our cake.]
[Him: Pleeeeeaaaassse??? Me: Mmmmm...this cake is gonna be gooood.]
[Him: Teehee! I totally did it!]
[Him: What are you doing?]
[Him: Mo-- Me: Here, hold still.]
[Me: This cake is pretty good. Him: *muffled* Yup]
I think the cake cutting demonstrates one of the reasons why I love the boy. Despite having a bunch of cake on his face and frosting up his nose (care of yours truly,) he still kept eating it and managed to kiss me.
[For my first two banquet posts, click here and here.]
Our mothers took care of all the details and planning, which was nice because then I didn't have to make double the decisions for both parties. (Then again, as evidence from my last post, sometimes there are more sensitive issues that need to be addressed.) They picked out the restaurant, the centerpieces, made the favors, brought the alcohol, etc. etc.
I just showed up. *little dance* The great part was having people ask me questions and telling them "I have no clue. Have you met my mother?"
[My mother-in-law's custom cheongsam made of pink lace]
[My mom's vintage cheongsam from the 1960s]
[Mini bamboo steamer favors with hard candy inside. Bamboo steamers from H2 Cards, custom tags from Mau Studio. Instead of tying each ribbon around the steamer, my mom and sister used a hot glue gun to place the ribbon and tag.]
[The sign-in table. The peacock is made from Hong Kong money and was brought by my parents' friends. The huge engagement photo was taken by the fabulous Jessamyn and printed at Kinko's.]
[A close-up of the awesome paper/money peacock.]
[This was brought from Hong Kong because my Mom couldn't find any vendors in the Bay Area that could supply us with a pink sheet. It is typically red, but pink looks pretty nice, no?]
[Our cake had three layers. The bottom layer was neapolitan: chocolate, vanilla, and raspberry filling. The middle layer was the boy's favorite, mocha and chocolate. The top layer was mine, banana and chocolate. Cake is from The Village Cake Shoppe.]
[This was just too cheesy not to share. There were monitors at the restaurant that showed random love scenes with the lyrics to whichever karaoke song was playing at the time. I don't remember any English songs being sung though, so I don't know why Up Where We Belong is on the screen. It's stuck in your head now, isn't it? ...where the eagles cry...on a mountain high...]
[Accepting a gift from my Popo (grandmother) during the tea ceremony]
This post can also be known as, Mo blows her cover as someone who always obeys her elders without question. It could also be titled, I'm not changing my last name and I don't think my in-laws know that. Whoops!
Before I get into the tea ceremony, the day before the wedding banquet I was going a little crazy because the boy's parents asked me to proofread the names of my relatives who would be introduced. [It is customary at Chinese banquets for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts to be introduced along with the bride and groom.] I noticed that the format was "Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName" and that's when I very calmly informed my in-laws that that did not apply to my aunt or my two sisters, because they have hyphenated names, or they just kept their last name. "Why would anyone do that?" my mother-in-law asked. Uh-oh.
And then I told her that I thought all the women needed to be announced with their first names, not just "Mrs. HisName", and I got a "no one is going to care" response.
Um, I beg to differ, you're standing in front of someone that cares. *Wildly raises hand* So I took the list and rewrote it to include all of my aunts' and sisters' first names. And then I realized that no one asked about how we were going to be introduced in Chinese. Uh-oh.
I could just hear it now, Introducing for the first time, Mr. HisName and BRIDE! My Uncle was doing the introductions, so I basically ran over to him when I saw him and told him, "Please introduce me with my full name. PLEASE." He laughed at how pained I looked, but kindly obliged.
So by the time I reached the tea ceremony the next day, I was still reeling from the possibility of all of the women's names being erased from introductions, including mine.
[Serving tea to my Uncle and Aunt during the tea ceremony]
The tea ceremony is very simple (or at least ours was.) Ours went a little something like this: An elder (or elder couple) will sit, I would stand and serve tea, and then I say "Elder's name, drink tea" and he or she in turn will drink tea, and give a gift, often money in a red envelope like in the photo of the boy's aunt and uncle below.
We did the boy's side of the family first, so we served them all tea and then it was my family's turn. The boy and I took turns serving the tea, we did not offer the cups at the same time, but instead he would go first and then I would serve tea after.
When it was my family's turn to be served, I picked up a tea cup first before the boy, and was quickly reprimanded. "No! The man always goes first! You go after." I looked down at the cup. Then back up. Then at my parents, and said "Seriously? But they're MY PARENTS." I got a lecture about tradition and "this is how it has always been done" and so the boy served tea first. And I served the cup after him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that we did the tea ceremony and had the banquet, as our heritage is important to us and we wanted to have a banquet that our extended families could attend.
[The collar of my dress for the Chinese Banquet. The gold heart is from my in-laws, the jade is from my grandmother. Photo by my sister.]
For an earlier post about my cheongsam, click here.
In comparison to wedding #1, getting ready for the Chinese Banquet was low-maintenence. My cheongsam was really the only (tangible) thing I had to worry about the day-of the banquet, that and getting hair and makeup done at Salon Paisley, which was a cake walk. I don't have any photos of getting ready at the salon, but I highly recommend them. It's a super cute space, and Ashley (the hair stylist) and Emmy (the makeup artist) did a great job. I'm guessing I fit the demographic, because I was also a sucker for the decor, and the music playlist sounded like my Kate Nash Pandora station. Girly artistic types unite!
The makeup actually only cost $25 if I brought my own foundation. I was running out of my MAC foundation anyway, so I picked up a new bottle and Emmy had all the colors ready when I got there. She put gold and purple on my lids, which I thought was really nice with my gold cheongsam.
It took me five minutes to get ready and put my dress on. I sat around for an hour while the boy got ready, so I took the opportunity to basically check myself out.
[My shoes, and nails fresh from a pedicure. These shoes are awesome, I have already worn them several times for special occasions: Jillian Kitten Heels from J.Crew.]
[Hi there. Oh, this? Oh yeah it's just something I had lying around. I'm also hardly wearing any makeup, and this is how my hair normally looks when I get up in the morning. Ready to go take three hours of portraits and show your in-laws you're worthy of marrying their eldest son, the future doctor? I know I am!]
The boy had his suit on, my cheongsam and hair were in place, and our parking meter was about to run out. With hands held, we headed toward the car, ready to take on 230 of our relatives, a roast pig, and a karaoke machine. Aiyah.
The boy surprised me to a reservation at Providence, a restaurant we could check off our Michelin list.
I'm a sucker for any place that lets me dress up a little and puts my napkin in my lap for me!
We had the 5-course tasting menu (the boy had the wine pairing, I opted for something the waiter called a "fruity delicious," and it was, fruity and delicious!) and then cleansed our palettes with a trip to Diddy Reese with our good friends who are new to L.A. Nothing like a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich to help wash down veal tenderloin and fish eggs.
Here's a recap of our foodie adventure!
[I'm intrigued by their logo. My guess is that it's supposed to mimic fishing line, since it's a seafood restaurant. Thoughts?]
[These lights were very interesting, I believe the translucent installation is trying to mimic being under water. There were also "barnacles" or sand dollars dotting the walls to add to the theme.]
[Need a shovel for your rock salt? I know who you can call.]
[Our first course! The jelly on the left was gin and tonic, the middle was a spoonful of grapefruit juice (?) and the tasty cup on the right had salmon and fish eggs with gold leaf on top. Sorry, this dish for some reason isn't included on the menu they so kindly folded up for me at the end...but it was good!]
[Japanese kanpachi: crispy rice crackers, coriander, soy creme fraiche. This was delicious, #2 on my list. The fish just melts in your mouth.]
[And this was #1 BY FAR, it was the tastiest scallop ever. Bobby's Block Island Sea Scallop: Japanese eggplant, rhubarb, cashews, reduction of vadouvan and jurancon]
[Halibut that was beautiful, but not as tasty as its friends the sea scallop and kanpachi above. Wild Day Boat Pacific Halibut: summer squash, black olive, dried apricot, basil]
[At this point I was stuffed. I know it doesn't look like much, but these little plates really fill you up, and I can eat a lot. Marcho Farms Veal Tenderloin: bacon, almond, english peas, maitake mushrooms]
[We finished the night with a very posh dessert. Yuzu curd, meringue: blackberry sorbet, jasmine.]
[And then we headed over near UCLA for a very cheap (but filling) dessert.]
[It's almost like it's smiling at you. Hello, ice cream. You're looking handsome tonight.]
The whole night was delicious.
I fully intend to do a few recap posts about our Chinese banquet this week, but unfortunately the American wedding recaps won't take place until I get the photos at the end of August.
I know, I know, the wait is killing me too. But it'll all be worth it in the end.
Yesterday was date day at The Getty Center, which was nice since the boy has disappeared in his work since the wedding. I'd come home from my day at work, wait a couple hours, and think hmmm...didn't I just acquire a husband? Where did he go? It's made me realize why people go on a honeymoon immediately after the wedding, so that you can spend your first couple weeks of being married in a blissful, relaxing state instead of stuck at a desk returning emails. At the same time, I'm thankful for the next 6 weeks to obsess over our trip to Japan. (!!!!)
The day was super warm so we were feeling sluggish, but we managed to check out the new Gerome exhibit and play with our new polaroid camera in the gardens: