First of all, it was an Orthodox Christian service. It was beautiful. The bride and groom state their intentions and exchange rings right away, near the entry. The priest chants most of the service and the responses are sung. The acoustics of the chapel carried the sound so that there was a nearly continuous hum of sound floating in the air with the incense.
The bride and groom are lead further into the church, are crowned to represent the glory of their new marriage state, but also the martyrdom that marriage is, in that each partner dies to themselves and begins a new life in the other. They drink wine from one cup in remembrance of Christ's first miracle at the wedding at Cana. Then they're lead around the altar three times, the beginning of their walk through life as a married couple, lead by Christ symbolized by the Word. They are blessed and process out of the church. The ceremony is musical, mystical, symbolic, and moving.
The bridesmaids wore red and gold satin mandarin dresses. The reception in the church hall was decorated with lanterns and fans and banners and dragons. We got fans and fortune cookies as favors. (Every one's fortune was the same: "Thank you for being with us on our wedding day.")
The bride and groom's first dance was to a nice song, nothing too sappy. Then the father of the bride danced to a song chosen by the bride. Basically the words were, "I'll be there for you the next time someone breaks your heart." Why was our table the only one laughing? It was hilarious! The groom and his mother danced to Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." It's good to know they have a sense of humor!
Speaking of humor, it seems like every time my family all gets together, some new childhood memory of my uncles' comes back, some new story is shared. They talked about how they and my father had been so terrible as boys as to pretend to be mentally retarded once when my grandmother took them to a store. Uncle John talked about a vivid dream he used to have that Grandma was out in the yard during a storm hanging up laundry, and when she jerked her hair out of her eyes in the wind, her head fell off, and she put it back on and had to go to Weingarten's for aspirin. Uncle Tom then said he must have dreamed about a hundred times about that he was being chased down the street by zombie toothpicks.
The food was, of course, Chinese food. There was a keg of Harp and a keg of Guinness. The best man gave hands down the best wedding toast I've ever heard. It was heart felt, funny without being embarrassing, and he admitted to not knowing my cousin well, but called her the the port her groom could come home to, and the star to guide him. And he read a poem by Thomas More that the groom had once shared with him.
Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy-gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul may be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear!
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose!