Lady in Red

8 Nov

I think I’ve mentioned before that my fiance, Sweets, is ethnically Chinese – his family emigrated from Taiwan when he was six years old. His parents speak some English, though their community in New York is primarily a Chinese-speaking community. Sweets doesn’t identify very much with the Chinese traditions – he goes by his English name, and that’s what appeared on our wedding invitations. But he said to me once, and I didn’t take it lightly, that he thought I’d be beautiful in a red dress at our wedding.

Well, I’m enough of a traditional girl that I really couldn’t see myself getting married in anything other than a white wedding dress. And there’s no way I could wear the traditional Chinese qipao – I’d be like a sausage stuffed inside the long column silk damask.

chinese wedding dressimage source: http://www.cheongsamwholesale.com/custom-made-short-sleeves-qipao-pc-260.html

The dresses are beautiful, and I admire them, but the tight and shiny are not my friends. They readily admit it, too.

As the wedding approaches (just about 50 days now!) we’re talking more about the ceremony, what music and readings, our vows, etc. And I find that my family traditions are the dominant ones. After all, my father, the minister, is marrying us. Sweets is happy with all of our choices so far, and he hasn’t asked to have more Chinese culture involved, so there’s not a lot about our wedding that is very Chinese, except for about 30% of our guests! I began to think recently about what little ways we could add to the familiarity and tradition for the Sweets’ family and their friends. I don’t want to pander, have anything feel insincere or inauthentic. And I don’t want the Chinese ladies at my wedding clucking and shaking their heads at the silly white girl who’s trying too hard.

Some things we’re doing that are “Chinese”:

  • Our rehearsal dinner will be like a traditional Chinese wedding banquet. Sweets’ parents are picking a favorite restaurant in Flushing, where we’ll gather our families (and some extended Sweets family members) for a family style dinner of traditional Chinese dishes.
  • We had a special piece of art made in the style of traditional Chinese paper cut art. It’s top-secret under wraps at the moment, because we want to surprise our families with it. We’ll incorporate that art into our paper goods, favors, and have it on display at the wedding.

I’m still hoping we’ll find more ways to celebrate his family’s culture.

The other thought I had recently was a not an entirely selfless one. I’m worried about spending eight hours in my voluminous, strapless, white wedding gown. I can’t see how I’ll be comfortable, and I’m worried about how I’ll maneuver in tight spaces. And what about when I have to pee? I really don’t want to have to ask anyone to help me in the bathroom. (Do all brides worry about this?) And then I remembered Sweets’ comment about the red dress…  I did a little more research and found that modern Chinese brides often get married in the western style – in white wedding gowns like mine. Sweets’ mother wore white, too! And then change at the banquet into the traditional red dress. As I said before, the qipao is out (I’m sure the Chinese ladies would cluck over that), but maybe I can do it in my own way. So I talked to Sweets about it again this weekend, and he seemed genuinely pleased at the idea: I’m currently on the hunt for a beautiful red party dress to change into after the ceremony. Something fun to dance in, something easy to move in. Something I can handle myself in the bathroom!

I’ll keep you posted on my red party dress search. Let me know if you know any great places to look!

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