In addition to the locket, we're going to be honoring Bubbe by using a tablecloth she embroidered as part of the roof of our chuppah. A stroke left her unable to finish the design, but the embroidery she did finish is gorgeous. The tablecloth is going to be a beautiful testament of her love for her children (it was intended to be a gift for Mr. HC's mother), as well as of her considerable talent as an artist. The embroidery also reminds me of a whole tradition of women's work and women's narratives; embroidery and other textile arts are a mode of storytelling and expression that connects generations of women. That it's unfinished is even more meaningful, as it alludes to the stories that have yet to be told.
Mr. and Miss Hot Cocoa's Chinese Tea CeremonyThe tea ceremony is the most important part of a Chinese wedding. Unlike Western weddings, in which the ceremony is primarily about the bride and groom, the tea ceremony shifts the focus from the couple to their elders; it serves as an opportunity for the couple to honor and show their appreciation for their parents, grandparents, and close relatives, as well as an occasion for the elders to welcome formally their new relative-in-law into the family.The tea ceremony takes place at an auspicious hour -- in Mr. and Miss HC's case, 2:30 pm. At the ceremony, the couple will serve tea first to their grandparents, then to their parents, and then to their other relatives in order of seniority.* At Mr. and Miss HC's ceremony, the bride’s family will be served first, followed by the groom’s family.** This reflects the order of events in ancient times, when there used to be two separate tea ceremonies: the first at the bride’s parents’ home, when the groom comes to “claim” his bride, and the second at the groom‘s parents home, when the groom returns home with his intended.Not only is there a particular order for the tea service, there is also a particular choreography. Each elder being honored will sit in a chair, with his or her spouse, if married, or by him or herself, if single. The couple will then serve the tea, from a kneeling position to their grandparents and parents, and from a standing position to everyone else. Younger siblings or relatives are not served.
When serving the tea, the couple presents the teacup and saucer with both hands as a sign of respect; also, they address their elders by their formal name (i.e., “Aunt Marshmallow”) as they bow to serve the tea. After the elders take a sip of the tea (they need not actually finish the cup -- just a ceremonial sip will do), they will present the couple with gifts of “lai see,” red envelopes containing cash. Red symbolizes good luck and is the color associated with weddings. Each elder served will present two envelopes: one to the groom and one to the bride. For example, Hot Mama Cocoa will present an envelope to Mr. HC and an envelope to Miss HC -- two total. And Mr. HC's parents will present two envelopes to Mr. HC and two envelopes to Miss HC -- four total. The couple will then place the unopened lai see on the saucer, which a family member will collect for safekeeping. It is considered gauche to open the lai see at the ceremony.There are other unique aspects of the ceremony. Lai see envelopes should contain cash in only even denominations, as odd numbers are associated with funerals. The number 8 is considered especially auspicious, while the number 4 is to be avoided, because the Chinese word for “four” is a homophone for “death.” Also, the tea served is a special tea that contains lotus seeds and red dates. This is because the Chinese word for “lotus” is a homophone for the word “year,” the word for “seed” is a homophone for “child,” and the word “date” is a homophone for “early.” In other words, the tea symbolizes a wish for the newlyweds to have children early and often! Finally, instead of lai see, relatives often will give gifts of gold jewelry to the bride, which she is expected to wear immediately. In ancient times, this display served as a way for the bride’s family to demonstrate their wealth, the grandeur of their daughter’s dowry, and the worthiness of the match.
Now that we've selected the delectable dishes we're serving at the reception, I figured it was time to dig the Gocco out of my closet (a feat in and of itself) and make the menu cards.
Here are some pros and cons of switching the ceremony time:
- Ceremony would start after sunset, and we wouldn't feel like we were breaking shabbat
- It would create a cushion of time for people -- Jewish or not -- to arrive late
- Since we had thought the ceremony would start post-sunset, all of the decor has been designed with darkness in mind; if we start earlier, we might have to pay extra to drape the sides of the event space to make it look less like a modified tennis court and more like a ceremony space
- I wouldn't be able to make the cocktail hour at all, since she I don't want appear in my wedding dress until the processional
- Yihud (the eleven-minute period after the ceremony, in which the bride and groom spend time alone together) would have to be rushed, since we'd have to make an entrance in the ballroom soon after. Yihud is such a beautiful moment to reflect on the ceremony, and I really was looking forward to it.
- Even if we changed the ceremony time, it might not make a difference at all to our more observant friends, since they still couldn't travel to our wedding until after shabbat ends and would likely miss the ceremony no matter what
- Our Chinese invitations actually state the start of the ceremony as 6:30 (since a lot of Chinese people often skip the ceremony and come straight to cocktail/reception)
- According to Hot Mama Cocoa, 7 is a bad hour in Chinese astrology, and if we were to switch the ceremony with cocktails, she wouldn't be happy unless we pushed the ceremony to 8, which would really be a late start
Sorry I've been a bit behind on my posts, but I just got back from a trip to LA for some last-minute wedding-related errands, and I've got lots to share with you!
I convo'd her, and she came up with a few beautiful designs for me to choose from. We ultimately settled on a design that is sort of rococo meets art nouveau, and within less than a month, she produced these amazing papercut numbers!
Aren't they so delicate and lovely? I'm going to frame them in floating glass frames, and put a votive behind each frame so that the numbers will cast pretty shadows on the table.
How will you personalize your table numbers?