Hitched at the Hilton

On the MTR
As an elder of our church here in Shenzhen, I was asked to officiate at a Chinese wedding. Sean and Dee, a lovely Chinese couple, go to our church, so I agreed. Well, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, as I had never “done” a wedding before, but the actual event was wonderful.

Christina was my translator

Skyscraper backdrop

The ceremony

We had a “run through” the week before, as I wanted to get the words right with Sean and Dee. After a few small changes, we agreed on what I was going to say at the ceremony. It was important to get this straight, as the words would all be translated into Mandarin.

The wedding was at the Hilton Hotel in Shekou and it really was quite a “do”. The ceremony was outside, in a garden on the roof of the hotel. I thought that this was a bad idea, as I was sure that it would be too cold, but in fact the weather was perfect, a sunny and blue sky with hardly a breath of wind. Irisha looked beautiful, of course, and I was wearing my smart blue suit and my old MA gown from Oxford.

The sun was setting as the guests finally settled themselves. Christina, my translator, and I went into action. I did a bit about Genesis and helpmeets, followed by the vows and then the rings. We did not have a Best Man – instead there was a Best Dog to carry the two rings and the pooch in question was led up to the podium by one of the bridesmaids. Sean seemed quite enthusiastic about kissing the bride, as indeed he should have been! Dee looked so lovely and yes, we did have some tears. Well, you cannot have a wedding without a few tears.
Red wine because red is lucky
Sean and Dee looked great!

Although Irisha and I were the only laowai (foreigners) at this wedding, in many ways the whole service and reception was very "westernized" and more or less the same as a wedding in the UK or maybe America. The actual ceremony was in English, albeit with a translator. 
The Best Dog (and pretty bridesmaids)

Another unusual feature of this wedding was the clear Christian content. As well as a big cross on the platform, there was Christian music all through the ceremony and the words of the marriage service explicitly mentioned Jesus Christ, the Church and the Bible. At a time when lots of churches in the UK have closed and their congregations are dwindling away, the churches in China are full and personal commitment to the Christian faith is rapidly spreading throughout China, especially among the professional classes. As well as the "official" government-sponsored churches, there are also innumerable "house churches". (In fact, a house church pastor was one of the wedding guests and he gave a little speech.) 

 Why is Christianity expanding in China? In the Middle Kingdom, there seems to be an ever-growing appetite for "western" things, whether that is Starbucks, western-style food, international travel or the English language. So it could be argued that the Christian faith is just another aspect of the "westernization" of China. Well, there might be some truth in that line of thinking, but it is not the whole story. 


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