There are few moments in life that leave me speechless. One of these was my friends David (Xiao Bien) and Sophia's (Yungjie) wedding. I still smile when I think about how wonderfully entertaining this experience was. It was equal parts loving celebration, 1980's big hair era prom, and WWF wrestling style event. China's lack of a state endorsed religion makes weddings purely secular events that take on the bride and grooms celebratory style. Many ceremonial aspects that would be considered out of place in a western church are totally normal in a Chinese wedding.
The day started with a bus ride from Shanghai to David's hometown outside of Hangzhou. Much of the trip was spent with me asking my coworkers about what to expect from the wedding. The trip took about four hours door-to-door so there was plenty of time for the excitement to build. When we finally arrived we went directly into the ballroom of a large hotel. The center of the room had an elevated walk way that lead to a stage. The stage had a pink curtain with a blue neon sign that said "Wedding" in English. This added a lot of flavor, which I hope wasn't lost on the majority of the people in attendance who didn't speak English. There were about 30 large tables spread throughout the room that could seat 10 guests each. As people filed in to their seats the lights went down and my amazement began.
David walked into the room as a wedding march was mixed with a Chinese love song from the 1940's. He made it about half way into the room when fire works exploded out of the flower arrangements lining the aisle. I knew at that precise moment that I was in for a special night. The pyrotechnics continued until he made it onto the stage. Sophia came in next walking hand-in-hand with her father who presented her to David. As they stood their together more fireworks shot out of the stage. At this point you might be recognizing a pattern. Every time something important happens there were momentary flashes of white sparkler lights. This over the top light display made me as happy as a kid on the 4th of July. I spent the next 30 minutes of reception daydreaming about the potential that indoor fireworks could have in the U.S.