You May Kiss the Bride

This morning, as the worship service was ending at church, the pastor announced that there would be a wedding following the service, and that all were welcome to stay.  Since a friend I was with will be getting married in that church 3 weeks from today, we decided to stay.  Her fiance was singing in the choir as well.

The wedding was an interesting (and somewhat humorous) melding of two cultures.  So much of it was 'by-the-book' western tradition, complete with flower girl and ring bearer and exchange of vows, yet the Chinese characteristics were clearly visible.

When the bride entered (accompanied by her father) to "Here Comes the Bride," everyone in the church stood up and started clapping in time as they made their way down the aisle to where the pastor and groom were waiting.  The pastor gave a 15 meditation and charge that included reminding them that their marriage didn't mean the end of their responsibilities to their parents.  They were still to be good (filial) children. When the pastor asked the groom the "Do You" questions, which translate into "Are you willing…" in Chinese, the groom grabbed the mic and yelled into it "I AM WILLING!," whereupon everyone in the church erupted into laughter and cheers. The bride was a bit quieter when her time came.

My favorite moment, however, was when the pastor told the groom he could kiss the bride–he leaned over and gave her a big kiss…on her forehead!  Again, everyone cheered. 

The pastor pronounced them husband and wife, and they want up the aisle ( once again to everyone clapping along with "Here Comes the Bride") to the back of the church, then down the other one to the front, where they remained for about a half hour while their friends and family members came up to have their pictures taken with them.

What I liked about the wedding was the participatory nature of it.  It wasn't just about the bride and groom — everyone was joining, singing, clapping, having a good old time.  We were participants, not mere spectators.

Afterward I had lunch with my two friends who will be getting married in 3 weeks, and I mentioned that I was bemused at the kiss on the forehead, and they each had different explanations for why he had done that.  She said it was because of Chinese tradition — kissing at a wedding ceremony is not part of traditional culture.  He was a bit more pragmatic and suggested it was because he didn't want to smudge the bride's makeup. 

Whatever the reason, I told my friend that I expected him to give her a proper kiss on the lips at their wedding next month.  They both just giggled.

Stay tuned……