The offbeat bride: Vanessa, Graduate Student (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Jason, Graduate Student
Date and location of wedding: Barcelona Suites, Albuquerque, NM — June 19, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was a mix of Chinese martial arts and northern New Mexico traditions. We are both martial artists that practice Tai Chi and Kung Fu, so our wedding involved those things that represented us as a couple. Our instructor, or “Sifu,” is a Buddhist chaplain and was our officiant.
We had a Martial Arts Honor Guard positioned to protect the event from enemy clans, and a traditional Chinese lion dance to frighten away evil spirits and bring luck to everyone in attendance. Guests were given red envelopes (called “Hung Bao”) in which they could place money or other gifts. The guests then fed the envelopes to the lions to bring good luck and fortune to all involved.
Immediately following this was a martial arts demonstration in our honor performed by Jason's students.
I designed our cake and Royal Icing brought it to life. The top layer had the calligraphy for double happiness and our Chinese names. The second layer contained the symbols of the Bagua, and the bottom layer had the symbols for the five elements. The two lions from the lion dance were replicated climbing the wedding cake. Jason also made the groom's cake himself.
After dinner, my father and I surprised everyone by performing “At Last” by Etta James. He played guitar, and I sang and dedicated the song to my new husband.
Instead of tossing the garter and bouquet, we did an anniversary dance to honor all those who were married before us. This dance eliminates couples until the longest married couple remains on the dance floor. The bouquet and garter are given to this couple. The last couple standing was Jason's grandparents who had been married for over 65 years!
In celebration, we danced La Marcha, a traditional Spanish wedding march in which all guests are encouraged to participate by simply following the leader.
My father played guitar as a friend sang “La Entrega” or “The Delivery.” We sat in two chairs as this traditional Spanish wedding serenade was offered up to us as a blessing. During this song, everyone there individually hugged and blessed us in their own unique ways.
Tell us about the ceremony: Sifu performed a beautiful Buddhist ceremony that included a tea ceremony. He began the ceremony by hitting his mallet against a bronze bowl and a clear metallic ring permeated the air. The purpose of the ring is to create a mindfulness of the moment and to get the attention of ancestor spirits that wish to attend.
First, the bride and groom served tea to both sets of parents and grandparents. The tea ceremony is used to share your deep gratitude with them for raising you and bringing you to that moment in your life. In return, they hand back a red envelope. The red envelope contains money or jewelry they wish to bestow upon the couple. The last tea ceremony is to serve tea to each other. Once the tea ceremony was over, Sifu lead us through the vows three times and we were to say, “I do” three times. Three is a considered an auspicious number. The ceremony was very heart-felt and special to us.
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was convincing my parents to let us do our wedding our way. They wanted a traditional Spanish Catholic wedding in their hometown. My mother also wanted a more traditional wedding dress. We overcame these problems by talking it out as much as possible and trying our best to compromise. We got them involved by creating the wedding arch and the decorations. I think they felt much better when they had something they could do.
My favorite moment: As cliché as it sound, standing at the altar with my best friend in front of friends and family was my favorite moment. It also meant so much to us that our Sifu was our officiant. He is one of the most loving and generous people I know. For the last song of the night, we played “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Most of the wedding party got on the floor to sing along and perform it for all our guests. It was the best way I think that we could end the reception, with smiles of entertainment on everyone's faces.
My funniest moment: The funniest moment was actually during the ceremony. Sifu addressed Jason first, and as we had forgotten when we were to say “I do,” he accidentally jumped the gun and said it too early, much to the amusement of everyone. Sifu said that he must be excited and had to wait until he rings the bell (or bowl). The next time Jason waited for his cue and proudly proclaimed, “I do.”
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The main thing that I wanted for our wedding was an atmosphere of love and happiness. In truth, it's all about inviting the right people and keeping the peace.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Dry Heat Photography
- Cake: Royal Icing
- Wedding dresses: China Cart
- Veil: WeddingVeil.com
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!