And now, for something completely different...
Sal and I attended a wedding last night.
The bride was Filipina, the groom Chinese, so the event combined the customs of both.
An altar was set up front, with a ceremonial urn (most likely carrying the remains of family ancestors) flanked by two red candles. The ceremony began (over an hour late) with the lighting of incense at the altar, and repeated bowing, most likely in tribute to the groom's forefathers. Later on, the couple was covered with a veil and tied together with a cord, a Filipino practice to symbolize the unity of their household. Also on the altar was a silver crucifix with two white candles. And while it was a civil ceremony conducted in a hotel, I'm pretty sure the officiant was not a judge, but an Episcopal priestess stationed nearby. On top of that, there was a Catholic priest, dressed in a clerical suit, who was on hand to bless the rings, and the couple. He appeared to depart from the traditional formula for both. This is just as well, considering his presence was probably -- shall we say? -- "under the radar."
There were a lot of pictures taken while we all sat around looking for something to do. So each table, one by one, started popping the champagne. An announcer asked us to refrain and wait for the wedding toast, but we politely ignored him. All in all, a rather, uh, spontaneous affair.
But certainly not dull. Also on hand were the couple's three children, the oldest a boy of about about eight or nine. (I guess their families have been working on this one for awhile, huh?) Not only that, but a tall and fashionably dressed woman with long beautiful hair came walking in later in the evening and took her seat. Sal identified her as... a "him." Yep, a fellow with, uh, gender issues, I guess. On two occasions, one of the bridesmaids chose to escort "her" outside. "She" didn't look too happy. I didn't get it.
Fortunately, Sal is a terrific dancer, and makes me look a lot more dashing than I really am. It probably also helped that I was the only guy there who paid attention to the "black tie" requirement (other than a four-month old who was chewing on his tie). Between that and the champagne, I'd say these people don't take direction too well.
I still can't get over the role of the priest. I never saw him before, and his name didn't sound familiar. But he was about in his sixties, which tells me he's one of those aging liberal throwbacks, probably from a religious order, who pretty much does whatever the hell he wants when nobody with a bigger title than his is looking.
(Gee, when you get enough of them like that in one church, what could possibly go wrong?)
Most people did not dance. And of course, Sal is usually too chicken to get out there with me until one other couple does it first. Fortunately, everybody got up the nerve by the time we left, in time for that universal favorite -- the Electric Slide.
I should say that the dinner was great too. I should have gone back for seconds and snuck in a Tupperware container to stuff it in. And we each got a little Chinese party favor to take home. It was a lovely little box, tied with a pair of chopsticks by a white ribbon. Inside the box was -- a fortune cookie? Close. It was a lottery ticket.
We'll find out tomorrow who got lucky.