I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.
I have used this quote in an earlier post on weddings because it is my absolute favourite. Over the four years that I acted as Wedding Coordinator at Old St Paul’s I heard many, many verses and sayings about weddings and ceremonies; this is the one that has stayed with me.
During that time I attended and coordinated more than 340 weddings. We had weddings conducted in English (of course) Maori, German, Russian, Dutch, French and Italian. In each instance, part of the service had been in English and so has been relatively easy to follow.
On January 24, 2009, we had a beautiful Chinese wedding.
The bride duly arrived to the peal of bells. A fitting start to this lovely ceremony. The bride was a perfect picture so tiny and delicate in her beautiful white wedding gown. The bridesmaids complimented her so well in their deep pink gowns. Bride and bridesmaids each carried a bouquet of summer flowers. What a great picture.
The groom and his groomsmen were also a joy to behold. All had on dark suits with white shirts and a pink flower in the lapel. Very smart and didn’t they all look so good standing awaiting the arrival of the bride.
The Priest was resplendent in his white robes with a rich red sash.
At the wedding rehearsal there had been a lot of talk in Cantonese/Mandarin but never was there a suggestion the whole ceremony would be conducted in other than the English language.
The bride told me she was ready and so I had the bell-ringers stop playing and the organist begin playing the processional for the entry of the bridesmaids followed by the bride.
But before the bridesmaids entered, the MC said a ‘few’ words in Cantonese or Mandarin and then indicated to me to start the ceremony.
The bridesmaids entered on my cue and each walked slowly down the aisle to their designated place. Then, when all three were in place, I brought in the bride. She was radiant but a little tearful.
The bride and her father walked slowly down the 34-meter aisle – the train of her dress following behind and showing off its snowy white perfection against the deep ruby red of the carpet.
The father handed the bride to the groom, the chief bridesmaid fluffed the train, the father took his seat and the ceremony commenced.
I can only assume that the priest welcomed the couple and guests in a speech in Chinese. Then the ceremony took its usual course. But all in Chinese so that I didn’t understand one word of it. The affirmation and vows; the introduction of the candle ceremony and its significance, the homily from the priest; two Anglican hymns were sung, and all in Chinese. I joined in the hymns, singing in English of course. The hymns were “Joyful, Joyful” and “To God Be the Glory”. Beautiful music and great words.
The Director of Music was a bit confused as he had to play music for the candle ceremony and signing of the register and he can’t see around the organ up to the altar. Usually, he gets his cue from the words of the priest or celebrant. This time he had to rely on my signals from the back of the church. A bit like the blind leading the blind.
Then just as I was getting ready to cue the organist, a man stood and proceeded to address the bride and groom and the assembled guests. Obviously, once again, I had no idea what was being said. Then he waved to me that the recessional could begin.
Then the service was over. The bride and groom started to walk back down the aisle and stopped and hugged parents and friends on the way. The bells started to ring as they left the church.
All in all a great ceremony and full of emotion and feeling, even though I didn’t understand a word.
Following the ceremony, the bride’s mother was in tears so I gave her a tissue from the box kept always at the back of the church. That seemed to set off a chain reaction as so many of the other women then took a tissue.
Photographs were taken in the church grounds. Congratulations from me to the happy couple and hugs from the happy couple to me.
A fabulous summer morning wedding.
Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown