Road To Wedlock V: Right, The Ceremony!

Alright, I know this “Road To Wedlock” series has been taking up a lot of the focus of this blog lately, but it’ll all be over by the end of the week! Then, apart from wedding photos, video and pictures from the honeymoon… I’ll be back to less nuptial posting and more “What the hell am I doing in China” posting.

With my parents arriving tomorrow night and us off to Hainan the day after, it’s become top priority to get the stuff we’ve left to the last minute done… you know, small things like cleaning the apartment, confirming reservations, assuring we’ve got Crown Royal in the liquor cabinet… and planning the ceremony!

Yep, we left it until last. The problem really is that we’re not on the ground in Sanya, so physical planning is difficult to do. I’ve made a little list to help me sort it out…

  • Weather
    Consider alternatives for location (once we have a primary spot chosen, that is) in case of rain. Also, look at renting beach umbrellas or a canopy of some kind. The forecast is sunny with some clouds, but who the hell knows. Accuweather indicates that sunset is at 6:40pm, but confirm this on the days before.
  • Music
    Possible solutions: buy a portable CD player, rent a small sound system, hire a local musician. Possibly rent a portable karaoke machine, as it can be used for a bit of sound reinforcement too.
  • Reception
    Look into availability of rouchuar guys possibly hanging out with us for a couple hours and cooking pre-bought seafood and such. Also, source out quiet beach-front restaurants that could comfortably fit our group (good atmosphere and relaxed environment).
  • Photography
    If time, quickly look into the cost/availability of a local pro. Assuming this is too expensive, or just not possible – go with initial plan of having the guests take photos (prep them with the basics of good photography).
  • Lighting
    If the reception is to be on the beach, we’ll need some sort of lighting. Look in Sanya for tiki-torches, candles (that are not prone to going out with the slightest gust of wind).

If you’ve any suggestions, please comment and let me know.

Bilingual vows: I take this language to be my life…

The other part of the ceremony is, of course, the vows. I spent a bit of time on this yesterday. As both Maggie and I are non-religious, we’ve asked my father to be the Master of Ceremonies and we are writing our own vows – in both Chinese and English.

As I’ve a bit more experience writing than Maggie does, I am sort of stitching them together, and then we’ll translate them into a reasonably similar sounding Chinese version. The only obstacle then will be remembering them. I think it’s fair to say that we’ll need cue cards of some sort (shit, add those to the “list” of things to get) – if not for the vows in our native language, then certainly for those not.

We’re pretty high-tech about it though, and we’re going to record the other person saying the non-native version and have it on our MP3 players to listen to on the flight down to Hainan (and the various bus rides in between) to hopefully help with pronunciation and such.

The Changing of the Names

One of the major cultural differences between China and the West is that Chinese women generally don’t take the surname of their husband. Now, I’m not a hardass traditionalist or anything, but I’ve always generally assumed that my wife and myself would have the same last name (as would our children) – in my mind, this sort of creates a “family”. So, we’ve come upon a creative compromise – we’re taking each other’s names… and skipping the hyphens!

Maggie, as you may have guessed, is only her “given” name as far as she “gave” it to herself. Maggie’s name is actually Wang Fang Fang. My Chinese name, Lei Rui An, is equally just as happenstance.

So, come February 16th, in English we will be:
Ryan and Maggie McLaughlin
and in Chinese we’ll be:
Wang RuiAn and Wang FangFang

I’m not sure of the legalities of this, or how it will work in any official way, but we’ve at least got the precedent now.


Finally, I wanted to mention a couple resources I’ve stumbled upon for anyone that is getting married in China. The first is a page with Chinese wedding vows – in Chinese and pinyin with an English translation.

The second bit is ChinesePod‘s “marriage” tag. They currently have the following three podcasts on the topic, which are unfortunately all “newbie” level – meaning, they only give a real basic overview of the language.

I washed my wedding attire yesterday and now I best go try it on and make sure it didn’t shrink. The last thing I need interrupting the sanctity of my vows is a large RIPPP! sound.

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  1. Pingback: Learning from each other « The ChinesePod Blog with Ken Carroll

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