Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If I'd listened more carefully, I might have heard the sky falling.

Before I launch into this post, there are relevant announcements to be made. First and foremost, my (charming and innovative) fiancee and I will be tying the proverbial knot next month. The where's, how-to's and what-convinced-the-in-laws' I shall save for another post.

Secondly, I am going to commit right now to at least one post per week. You have every right to expect a new update if you check my blog on a Monday morning. If said post is not there, feel free to criticize, patronize, or simply whap me with a newspaper.

Thirdly, I am going to start gearing my posts more toward cultural differences and interactions, as they seem to be the topic that motivates me at the moment, as well as the topic people are more interested in hearing.

Now that I've established these updates, on which I shall elaborate in future posts, lets talk about how the sky fell yesterday.

Yesterday, Emma and I visited our dear friends Karolyn and Anna, and we made wedding invitations. (I am planning on writing a how-to for the next post, step-by-by-step, with pictures!) I had searched and searched for a invitation kit at several craft stores and finally decided it would be much more satisfying to simply make them. I am so glad we did.

Each invitation is beautiful and unique. I bought a pad of scrap-book paper, sheets of vellum cut to size and printed, sheer ivory ribbon and 3-D paper flowers. Anna contributed some lace ribbon. We set up an assembly line, and had them done in no-time. The invitations were a bit big, so we had to be careful putting them in the envelope, but with a bit of maneuvering, each fit perfectly. The names were written by hand (Karolyn has lovely, naturally swirl-prone handwriting). We finished it off with a rose stamped in red sealing wax.

I was so excited to give the first of the invitations to my in-laws. I handed it to Emma, who tottered over to my mother-in-law and put it in her lap. Exclamations of "oh, so beautiful!" were abundant. She actually thought the invitation had been store-bought. Then it began.... "Make sure to invite Mengyao's uncle."

See, here's the problem. We don't have money. Meng and I had agreed that we would have four family members and two friends each. Later, we added our friend's significant others to the list. With officiant (and spouse) and the photographer, that made our count 18. If we add one person, then we have to add three, and then three more, and then five, and then it's out of control. We had been clear about the limit of people, or so we thought. My (stubborn and often immovable) fiancee shook his head and said, "No."

"PLEASE!" was my mother-in-law's reply, and she stomped her foot and began shouting things in Chinese. I later found out she was threatening not to come to the wedding and to convince Meng's grandparents not to go either. Had I known that the simple giving of an invitation would create such an explosion, I don't know if I would have even made them.

I also found out later that, while the invitation itself was given high praise, the envelope has received harsh criticism for hand-written addresses (a touch I intended because I wanted it to be more personal), and for not being big enough. The funny thing is, I think the size issue is due to the fact that the ribbon and flower bulge. This will be a problem, no matter the envelope. Besides, it has a real wax seal!

I don't know what it is about an invitation that turns a "simple ceremony" into a "wedding ceremony," but apparently it does. Perhaps it makes things official. For about a month, all the wedding plans went smoothly, and now people are upset again.

After some calm talking to my father-in-law, we reasoned that it is possible to add two people to the guest list, turning 18 into 20. We will most likely do so. Unfortunately, although the decision has been almost made, both my fiancee and my mother-in-law are stubborn people. She keeps bringing up the importance of inviting family, and because she is harping on it, he is threatening to elope. I'm just confused.

I believe all of this wedding strife has to do with the Chinese necessity to "keep face." It's important to make a big show of a wedding, apparently. It shows that you are ready for life, and are able to throw a big, expensive bash. Well, we are preparing to throw a big, expensive bash for 20 people. Expect an update on actual wedding plans soon.

"When I started planning our wedding, my one goal was that it be the most stress-free wedding anyone has ever had. It's all I want. Please?"
There may be muscle relaxers in the wedding-favors.

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