Eat More, Drink More, Enjoy Yourselves! A Wedding in Hong Kong

Some of you may be wondering, how did a wedding in Hong Kong make it onto a Mexican travel blog? Actually, our trip to Hong Kong was planned even before we set off for Mexico. I have three cousins in Hong Kong, and two of them have already married. When my cousin Donna invited us over a year ago, we knew we had to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a Chinese wedding despite John’s grumbling about having any commitments that might interfere with surfing.

Neon in Babylon

John had never been to this side of the world and was in for quite a surprise. Making the transition from the wide open desert and relaxed pace of camping in Baja to the neon-lit, jam-packed, consumption-oriented culture of Hong Kong was definitely a culture shock.

John and I traveled with my aunt and uncle (parents of the bride) under the harbour in a taxi and arrived at the Renaissance Hotel on Hong Kong Island hours before the banquet was set to begin. We had our jobs to do: John taking snapshots alongside photographers and videographers, and me practicing lines as the English-speaking MC. By the time the wedding officially began I was hungry, and was relieved when waiters passed cake and tea. You get to eat cake first in Hong Kong! Money is the traditional wedding gift for people in Hong Kong, but the bride and groom are not the only ones who receive bills in red and gold envelopes. Guests also receive lucky money, two envelopes in fact, because two is a more auspicious number than one for the Chinese.

The banquet began with a parade of waiters marching in with roasted pork on plates supported by silver platters with four piggy legs. The waiters deftly transferred the pork onto 12 little plates, one for each person seated at our table. Then the silver piggy platter was whisked away. Before tasting each course, it is traditional to give a “cheers!” to the table. Cheers in Hong Kong is a raise of the glass, clinking with other diners’ glasses is not necessary.

More courses followed, including abalone on sauteed pea sprouts, a steamed whole fish, and a seafood stuffing

Tasty treats in a sea shell

baked inside of a whelk shell. Donna and Joe skipped the shark’s fin soup, opting instead for a bird’s nest soup. Yes, the bird’s nest is actually made of bird spit. I once saw a cave on the side of an island in Thailand where locals are allowed to harvest the birds’ nests. I imagine that this practice is more sustainable than the harvesting of sharks only for their fins, but who knows.

After the shark’s fin, we played a version of the flower toss. Single girls grasped ribbons attached to the bride’s bouquet. Donna thrust the bouquet into the air, and all of the ribbons fell from the flowers except for one which had been tied tightly. The girl who gets the ribbon still attached to the flowers is the lucky future bride-to-be!

Who's the next lucky girl?

The evening included three dress and accessory changes for Donna, assisted by a makeup artist who traveled from Taiwan to help out. I knew Donna’s arms were getting tired from carrying what looked like about a pound of 24K gold bracelets on her arms. The couple visited table after table, trailed by their families, giving toasts at each one.

Traditional gold wedding bracelets adorn the bride

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