It Takes a Village to Host a Wedding

Last weekend our American coworker got married to a local guy here in Banna. Because there are only about fifteen foreign families that live here, we all were recruited to help with various aspects of the wedding. One of my responsibilities was to host my friend’s wedding shower. We don’t often have parties here, so I was really excited at the opportunity to host her shower. In fact, planning the shower became a hobby for me over the last several months (in my defense, I needed something to distract me from all the diaper-changing and crying!). Of course, I had to look at Pinterest first so that I could see what all the super-human people in the world do at their wedding showers and then decide which of their ideas I could copy best. Then, after I came up with all these lofty ideas for decorations and food, I remembered that I live in a place where I can’t even buy popcorn. Thank goodness for “Taobao”, China’s version of Ebay except with mostly new items. I can find almost anything on Taobao as long as I can figure out how to translate it into Chinese. For example, when I was searching for tissue paper pompoms to hang on the ceiling during the party, I had to think of how to describe tissue paper pompoms using Chinese – “paper balls”, “party paper balls”, “paper ball decorations” (mind- numbing, isn’t it?). Once I found the right search term, I had to look carefully at the seller’s website and the pictures of the products to decide if the seller and his products were reliable (many are fake or poor quality). Lastly, I often sent the seller chat messages to ask him/her questions about the product. As much as I love having the option of buying many things on Taobao, it is obviously an exhausting and time-consuming process!

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The shower itself was great! I was pretty stressed leading up to the shower since I didn’t have any co-hosts to help me and there were a larger number of guests coming than I had expected. In fact, one person called the day before and asked if she could bring two  of her friends and her two daughters. Being from America, this annoyed the heck out of me, but I reluctantly said “yes” since living in another cultural often means one has to be very flexible (a skill I am not so good at). Due to all the stress I was feeling leading up to the shower, I was actually pleasantly surprised when the party turned out to be a big hit among both foreigners and Chinese people. The Chinese people who attended the party were thoroughly entertained by all the American party traditions especially the wedding shower games. I also noticed how much the foreigners enjoyed having time to let loose and have fun. I think we all spend so much time and stress trying to survive here on a a daily basis, that we were so excited at the opportunity to get dressed up and attend an actual party!

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The other responsibility I had during the actual wedding was making the wedding cake. Keep in mind, I have very little baking expertise. I make cute cupcakes, and that is about it. At the time my friend asked me to do her wedding cake, I was convinced that the result would be something like this…

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The bride probably would have been happy with a simple sheet cake, but, oh nooo, my perfectionist crazy-brain got in the way and decided I needed to do a 3 tiered cake with a “rustic” design. Thus began a frantic process of me trying to educate myself via Youtube and Pinterest on the ins and outs of making a wedding cake. I learned all about things like dowel rods, cardboard rounds, crusting vs non-crusting buttercream, cake pan strips, etc. I, once again, scoured the endless abyss known as Taobao to find things like floral tape and off-set spatulas. During the cake-making process, I did everything a person should NOT do when making a wedding cake for the first time such as testing absolutely nothing beforehand. This led to a very stressful and busy week before the wedding. It was nothing short of a miracle that this was the finished product…

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Not bad for the first time, huh? All thanks to the world wide web (and I think God had pity on me, so he might have intervened as well).

At least I didn’t have to sing at the wedding. Hehe. 🙂

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