My Son’s Chinese Wedding

Last week I put on a traditional Chinese costume and sat beside my ex-husband in an obscure city in China, waiting for our son, Andrew, to come riding up on a horse with his bride in a sedan chair and ask us to accept her as our daughter.

Our children can take strange tacks and end up in places we never would have predicted.  A friend’s daughter grew up to be a trapeze artist in Cirque du Soleil.  “It was not a career path I ever envisioned for her,” the father said.  Another friend had a son who partied and slacked his way through school but went on to earn $30 million in the tech business.  The mother shook her head.  “I never would have predicted that.”

So it was for me.  I never imagined my son would go to China and jump headlong into the culture, start two businesses and marry a Chinese woman.  I’ve searched my memory for clues in his childhood that might have predicted this, but I’ve come up empty.  I mean, he liked Chinese food, but he also liked Japanese, Mexican and Italian. 

After earning a computer science degree at U.C. San Diego, he decided it would be useful in his career to spend a year learning Mandarin.  He picked out a language school cold on the Internet, in a city he couldn’t pronounce—Shijiazhuang—170 miles south of Beijing.  He chose it because the school offered four hours of private instruction a day, and total immersion in a city that had ten million people but only a hundred foreigners.  The natives spoke a pure Mandarin and almost no one spoke English.  It would be sink or swim, and I worried he would be lonely.

Instead, he became like a rock star in the city.  At 6’3,” he stood out and people would follow him shouting, “Hello!  Hello!”—the only English word they knew.  Businessmen wanted to befriend him and a beautiful young TV host wanted to interview him because she’d never met a foreigner.  

Fast forward eight years.  Thirteen of Andy’s family and friends have made the long trip to Shijiazhuang, and are checking out the apartment he and his bride, Yang Fei, have decorated for the wedding. 

Grandpa Jerry, Andrew, Mom, Yang Fei and my sister, Terry

Everything is red red red:  streamers, balloons on the ceiling, red satin bedspread and pillows, and decals on the walls with characters that say “happiness” and “good fortune.”

The wedding begins at six in the morning.  That’s right, six fucking a.m., which means getting up at five.  We make our way, bleary eyed, to Andrew’s place and find him wearing cargo shorts and a t-shirt.  “My clothes aren’t here yet,” he says.  “Where they are?” I ask.   He grins and shrugs.

A few minutes later, the wedding master and costume people arrive and I watch Andrew be transformed from a hip expat to a medieval nobleman.  They slip a gown over him that’s red, of course, and tie a long cummerbund around his waist.  “I’m nervous,” he says as they put a hat on him that has red balls, red tassels and what look like propellers of blue fabric sticking out from his head.

In another room, two women dress me in a teal skirt and green tunic with kimono-like sleeves.  My ex, Glen, has the same costume plus a hat that’s almost as outrageous as Andy’s.  Thank God I don’t have a hat.

Dad and Mom give salute of thanks


By the time we’re all dressed, the apartment is jammed with Andy’s Chinese friends, TV cameramen and reporters, who’re covering the wedding because this kind is rarely done these days.  Most young people opt for a Western wedding with the bride in a white gown.  Andy tells us it was his idea to have a traditional wedding.  “I saw one when I first got here.  It looked lively and unique and I knew I wanted to do it.”

The wedding master herds everyone into the living room and asks them to applaud and cheer.  I sit down on the couch with Glen and his father, Jerry.  As Andrew bows to the three of us, he seems to be shaking slightly.  Then he rises to his full height and announces:  “I’m going to get my bride.  Do you have any wishes you want to give me?”  People cheer and call, “Go get her,” as I hug him and wish him well.

We follow him down to the street where a procession of forty people in red or gold costumes are waiting:  two men with a giant gong; two men with flags for double happiness; a jester; two red dragons (powered, we will learn, by 80-year-old women hunched inside); musicians with horns and drums; a horse festooned with red ribbons, saddled and ready for Andrew; and an ornate gold sedan chair born by eight men and accompanied by two hand-maidens, my daughter, Rachel, and the bride’s maid of honor.

Andy climbs on the horse and, putting his left hand over his right fist, punches the air in each direction.  It looks like a victory salute, but it’s to thank the spirits for good fortune.  “Thank you, thank you,” Andy calls, shooting out his fist.

The gong sounds, the musicians start playing their brassy horns and everyone takes off for the hotel where Yang Fei has spent the night.

Glen and I were not allowed to go along.  We had to wait in Andy’s apartment for him to collect Yang Fei and bring her back to us.  As we ate breakfast of fried rice, I thought about the contrast between this wedding and ours.  I had gone to a mikvah the day before, the first time ever.  The rabbi had suggested I go and it felt right to do the ritual cleansing and purification before the ceremony.  The next day, I circled my husband seven times, he stomped on the glass and everyone shouted, “Mazel Tov.”

There would be no breaking of the glass at Andy’s wedding, but there would be an equivalent of the mikvah.  The day before, we’d all gone with Andy to a mineral hot springs.  Exchanging our shoes for Chinese sandals, we soaked in a chain of pools that had different water temperatures and names, like “Happy Woman” and “Green Tea.”  Then there was a special pool that charged extra and was named, “Fish Therapy.”  We stuck our arms in the water and in seconds, hundreds of tiny fish attached themselves to our hands, nibbling off the dead skin.  It was shocking and thrilling, a weird mixture of tickling, sucking and scrubbing.  One woman screamed.

The fish, common in Thailand, are a variety of Turkish toothless carp.  We were reluctant to put our whole bodies in the pool—who could stand it?—but we told Andy we’d treat him for a pre-wedding bath.

Before Andy could get in, his 86-year-old grandpa, Jerry, said, “I’ll try it,” and slid himself under until his whole body was covered with fish.

On the wedding day, although I had to wait in the apartment, I later saw on video what happened when Andy reached Yang Fei’s hotel.  He walked to the door of her suite, followed by his retinue, and had to knock, battle and cajole his way in.  Female voices behind the door peppered him with questions, like, “Why do you love Yang Fei?”  They asked him to sing and slide money under the door.  At length they opened it, but she wasn’t there!  She was behind a second door in the bedroom.  Again he pleaded and bargained until he was admitted.

Yang Fei was sitting on the bed with a red satin cloth over her head—it looked like a lamp shade, blocking everything out.  It was hard to tell there was a human under all that red cloth.  One of her close friends demanded, “Why should we let her go with you?”

Andy said, in Chinese, “I will treat her well the rest of her life, because I love her more than anyone and want to be with her forever.  She is the love of my life.”

The wedding makes the news.

But that wasn’t enough.  The women made him stomp on and break all the red balloons covering the floor.  “Yang Fei needs her shoes,” one said.  “You have to find them.”  He searched and had to pay for clues, and on finding them, kissed his bride’s feet and put on the slippers.  She extended her hand from under the red folds and he led her to where her parents and grandparents were sitting. 

This was the centerpiece, the soul of the ceremony.  He called her parents “mama” and “ba,” and they called him “erzi,” Chinese for “son.”  Then the parents, as customary, handed their new son red envelopes filled with money.  Andrew had explained that because of the one-child rule set in China in 1979, families are small and “what you call people is important.  When you get married, you’re taken into your partner’s family.  You’ll call her other relatives ‘grandmother’ and ‘aunt,’ but the most important are ‘mother’ and ‘father.’”

After calling her parents his parents, Andy brought Yang Fei, leading her by a long red ribbon, down to the street and into the sedan chair.

Mounting his horse, he  led the procession back to his apartment, where he shot three arrows from a bow:  one to the heavens to alert the gods, one to the ground to alert the earth and one in the direction of Yang Fei.

Andrew shoots bow at banquet.

Then he helped her out of the carriage and she stepped over a saddle and a mock fire pit to simulate walking over coals.

Finally, standing before his own parents and grandfather, he said, “This is my wife.  Please take care of her and love her because I love her.”

Yang Fei said to us, “You are my closest family now.  Please accept me.  Help me.  Love me.”  As she fixed her large warm eyes on mine, tears rolled down my cheeks.  

Afterward there was a duplication of the ceremony and a banquet for 350 people.  But the most powerful moment for me was the ritual in Andy’s living room.  There had been no breaking of the glass, no praying to God or the couple making promises to one another.  The ceremony was all about transmuting two families, as if by alchemy, into one.  Uniting them by name, economics and heart.

The expansion of our family was truly palpable.  Years ago, I had mused about having another child but never did.  I can’t begin to tell you what joy it gave and continues to give me to call Yang Fei “nuer”—my daughter.

 

Yang Fei, Rachel, mom and Andrew

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101 thoughts on “My Son’s Chinese Wedding

  1. Mort

    My daughter got married to a young man whose parents live in Senegal. They had a traditional African wedding, with special costumes and rituals. It was so moving — but like you, nothing I ever expected. We are truly becoming a world culture!

    Reply
  2. Cheryl

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Congratulations to you and your family and your “new” family. Keep enjoying and experiencing life, Sara! I sure do love reading about it!

    Reply
  3. Mark Battat

    Mazel Tov to all of you! Thank you so much for sharing this extra special milestone in your family’s lives.

    Reply
  4. Jill Van Dyke

    thanks you for this, I just went to my daughter’s wedding and the idea of the family merging has been profound. Sounds like an amazing cultural joining also, powerful

    Reply
  5. Anne in NoHo

    Dear Sarah,
    I had tears in my eyes, visualizing the wonderful experience you relate. Much good fortune and love and many healthy and happy years for you and your new family across the world!
    Anne

    Reply
  6. Marian Thier

    Sara, tears rolled down my cheeks too. What a beautiful rendering of a lovely, rare, traditional wedding. My Chinese college roommate had a fraction of the ceremony in her NYC wedding, but I remember the rehearsal dinner was filled with foods that were definitely strange to me and traditional for the night before marriage. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    1. Sara Post author

      Ah yes, there was plenty of strange food. Chicken legs, sea slugs, jelly fish, frogs… Most of us passed when the plates came around on the lazy susan, except for my son’s 86-year-old grandfather, Jerry, who ate everything. There was a dish that looked like worms, but it turned out to be tofu that they cut thin and serrated so it looked like worms! It was hard to put in the mouth, even though we were told it was tofu.
      Cheers to you.

      Reply
  7. Priscilla

    Sara, what a delightful story! Congrats to your family for adding a new member. I loved enjoying the ceremony along with you through the pictures. Mazel tov!

    Reply
  8. Amina

    Sara, What a beautiful story, experience and cross-cultural abundant feast of family and love. Profound hope for our world is so poignantly reflected… Congratulations and many blessings to you all!

    Reply
  9. Rob

    Sara,
    Very moving !
    Having traveled to China recently this was especially interesting.
    I am learning that the heart is very important in Chinese culture and I could feel how hearts were touched as you wrote. Thanks.

    Reply
  10. Christina Long

    I love your writing, and that’s why I follow your RSS feed! LOVED this beautiful piece on your son’s wedding. My oldest is 21, the other two are young teens. I look forward to my sons’ weddings! who knows what beautiful person they may choose and what type of ceremony they may have! you never know! They may follow my lead in having a ‘not-traditional to my familial culture wedding’ also! I was married in a Punjabi wedding ceremony!

    Reply
  11. PETER BLITSTEIN

    Having a son and a daughter I can relate. I am smiling looking at the pictures of the traditional chinese wedding.AS my children are still single it is food for thoought…..enjoy it all!

    Reply
  12. Joseph Drew

    Best of luck to the happy couple.
    You write so well. I felt like I was right there during the entire ceremony.

    Joe Drew

    Reply
  13. Joye Swain

    How wonderful! It sounds like an ideal wedding with lots of commitment on both parts and emphasis on the importance of familial acceptance.

    Reply
  14. Cee Howard

    Joan, thank you for sending your son’s wedding story. It is beautiful and I wish the young couple all happiness.
    I corresponded once or twice with you (it has been awhile) after you relocated to Boulder. I hope your life there or elsewhere is going beautifully. I am in the third year of retirement as a psychotherapist, formerly a journalist.
    Wishing you all the best,
    Cee Howard

    Reply
    1. Sara Post author

      Hi Cee,
      I’m Sara. Did you mean this comment for “Joan,” or was that a flub?
      I do remember you and hope you’re flourishing.
      warm wishes, Sara

      Reply
      1. Cee Howard

        Sorry, it was a flub!!
        Thanks for responding, Sara. And again, a great wedding good for a lifetime of precious memories.
        Candace

        Reply
  15. Roz Ellman Ross

    Sara, I loved your account of your son’s wedding and congratulations and I wish the new couple the best. Knowing you all these years, it is miraculous that we can communicate as we do these days. Who would have thought? My son, the musician, will probably be marrying his girlfriend of 4 years. She lives in Madrid and her family is from the Canary Islands. If it should happen, I am sure the traditions will be quite different from what we know also. Have a happy and healthy New Year and keep in touch. Love, Roz

    Reply
  16. Ruthie

    what an amazing story about your son’s wedding
    omg
    and your ex-father-in-law jumping in with the little fish
    it all made me cry
    MAzel Tov!

    Reply
  17. Lorelei

    Sara, What a lovely expression of love! I wish more of our cultures included weddings that bring the whole family into the ceremony in which we accept and love each other as new family members. If we did this, what do you think our world would look like!? I cried as I read this beautiful expression of love and commitment. Thanks for sharing. You have an amazing son and family.

    Reply
  18. Naomi Zwengler

    Just finished reading your very colorful description of your son’s wedding, and found it really fascinating. I can relate because my 22 year-old grandson, after graduating from Rutgers U. in May, accepted a job teaching English in Taiwan. He’s been there several months and seems to like being on the “other side of the world”,as he put it. It’s not too farfetched to
    imagine myself in your situation in the future,which would be OK if it makes him happy.

    Reply
  19. Roger

    Dear Sara and Family,
    thanks so much for including me in this email.
    the wedding was beautiful and powerful. My 29 year old daughter has decided to get married next year, and wants to do something unique for them. It won’t be this; but maybe this will be an inspiration for them
    i look forward to when you will be coming to Hawaii, and to meeting the rest of the family, and extended family.
    Much love and aloha, Roger

    Reply
  20. Dr.Barbra Rubin

    OMG!! (The fish therapy)

    How fortunate you are to haVE HAD SUCH A HAPPY, EXOTIC EXPERIENCE AS THIS WEDDDING.

    I know they will always be happy together

    Reply
  21. Susan Weiss

    Congratulations Sara to you and your expanded family. This post brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely wedding!

    Reply
  22. Durga

    Loved reading this! I’ve experienced a couple of Indian weddings, and there are similarities – the groom leading the bride by a red scarf, the bride under a red “tent”, the groom on horseback. Even the fucking 6 am start – except I remember that being for three days! I imagine the fact that you didn’t grow up in this culture allows the significance of the ritual pieces to resonate even deeper. They’re fresh, not rote.

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Sara. All the best with your newly extended family!

    Reply
  23. Lynn McCoy Bennett ( nee Katzmann)

    Mazel Tov!
    I’ve been reading your work, and loving it, all my life (I’m soon to be 64). Congratulations on yet another Life’s celebration. Just remember, it’s the journey, not the destination. Wishing you and yours the best. May your good luck and creativity be continued.
    Best,
    Lynn Bennett
    Green Valley, AZ ( after a life in New York and L.A. – it’s the journey, not the destination).

    Reply
  24. Marcy

    Aloha Sara,
    I was enraptured by your story and pictures of your son’s wedding in China.
    As a mom of two girls, we always wondered where they would go in life. Yours has done something exotic, heart warming and wonderful!
    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Bob and I leave for China next week with a small group from our art museums. We’ll be going out to Kashgar via the “Silk Road” We’ll look for a traditional wedding on the way!

    Reply
  25. doreen

    Wow, with all our technology and impersonal communications, this simple ceremony packed with meaningful exchange of words of love and commitment brings tears… and our kids really can and do travel to the ends of the earth to find their way. So glad you could join them on this amazing day, congrats!

    Reply
  26. Hilary

    Wow, truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure! I *do* hope that your son and his wife come to live in the United States at some point, though… did you know that the rate for suicide for women in China is that a woman or girl takes her life every three minutes? Highest in the world, which gives you an idea of what conditions are really like… I am so glad I was able to bring my baby girl home from China 14 years ago! I also hope your son has businesses that treat women w/ respect and awe. Again, congrats! This is the organization hubby and I support, which supports Chinese women, girls and girl babies in China… might want to check it out, Sara… http://www.allgirlsallowed.org :) Hilary

    Reply
  27. Laurie K.

    I met you through my friend Sheila, when you spoke in Denver once years ago. I love your blogs and I really look forward to them. This one was very special. The way you described this beautiful event, the feelings you share with us, your loyal fans, I really appreciate your perspective, you talk from the head and the heart always. I have one child, a son (15 and yes, I’m 59), it really got me thinking about what a beautiful relationship your son has with you and now with his new wife. I love the thought of not losing a son but gaining a daughter. You again have taken us on another beautiful life journey. Thank you Sara.

    Reply
  28. Paul Kritzer

    Your description of the wedding is so joyful. Many thanks for including me in your circle. It’s been fun to read your musings over the years and appreciate the fun and adventure you have reached.

    Cheers,
    Paul Kritzer
    Columbia J 65 classmate
    Waukesha, WI

    Reply
  29. Melinda Blau

    Sara, this is one of the best pieces you’ve ever written, and I love your writing in any case. I just finished a book on family — actually, am revising it now — and in one part I talk about how, with consciousness, we design our families. We make choices that affect us as individuals and our relationships. This slice of your life is layered with so many important ideas, not the least of which is the importance of family. Bravo for capturing it so beautifully and well. I was interested, too, in the part about being surprised at how our children “turn out.” My new book takes parents off the hook–well, not completely, because good parenting is always important–and points out that family–the unit–is affected by many things. In this case, your son took a left turn in his life that you wouldn’t have anticiapted. And it then changed your life. Families are connected ’til death do you part. We tend to focus mostly on the so-called formative years, but family relationships span one’s lifetime. We, in our “generative years” are still learning, still adapting, still delighting in who our children become, even if they’re vastly differnt from how we thought they’d be as adults.

    Reply
    1. Sara Post author

      Beautifully put, Melinda. Thanks so much. It’s true, families are connected by blood, genes and heart and those connections are not breakable, no matter what is said or done. That’s why it makes sense to nurture them at all costs, to ride out the friction and upsets, which there will inevitably be, and celebrate the joys. Right now I’m looking out the window at the cottonwoods turning gold in the late afternoon sun–gorgoues! And a great reflection of where we are at this point in life. Now to savor that….

      Reply
  30. Nance

    Thanks, Sare. Such a tender telling of a mother’s surrender to the mysteries of Love that always take us beyond the known into the unknown. May their union be a living blessing for all members of the now united families.

    Reply
  31. Wor. Peter A. Lake

    One of the most exotic experiences I could imagine.
    Bravo to you and Glen and good luck to Andy and Yang Fei.

    Reply
  32. judi Turner

    This was a stunning experience. I loved seeing and reading about this Chinese wedding. Thanks.
    Judi Turner

    Reply
  33. Carole Chouinard

    Sara, Thank you for this lovely post! What a wonderful experience for you and your family. I’m especially touched by what you wrote in the beginning about not guessing that this life in China is what your son’s adult life would look like. Amazing and wonderful!

    Carole

    Reply
  34. Jim

    Your son’s willingness to strike out and his intelligence to
    see a venture through was indicated in the article you wrote about him
    roughly ten years ago in the LA Times. You said that he started his own
    computer business when an adolescent and was on his own financially and went
    to UCSD and not Berkley. He trusted his own instincts then. He probably got
    a lot of this from you.
    I am sure that at the wedding you thought of Robert Frost’s lines–“and I
    took the one least traveled by and it has made all the difference”–and
    realized that they applied to both of you.

    Reply
  35. Cindy Post author

    WOW! I started reading and couldn’t stop. What a beautifully well written memoir that needs to be archived and cherished for generations to come (if not published so others can experience the possibilities and rewards of merging of two cultures). Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  36. Ilene Kahn Power

    Sara, My son Jeremy (my late ex husband Terry Kahn was his father, whom you knew and wrote about as “Artie” in “Loose Change”.) married Naho Ayabe from Tokyo and we had a wedding there and in Santa Barbara at our house. Your story has so much relevance to my Japanese experience. Thank you for writing about it. FYI We’re about to have our first grandchild, a girl, half Japanese, half American-Jewish. Very excited as you will be. All the best, Ilene Kahn Power

    Reply
    1. Sara Post author

      Yes, Ilene, I’ve often thought about how my grandchildren will be half Chinese, half Jewish American. Nothing I ever pictured, but I know I’ll love them and they’ll be wonderful. Congrats on your first grandchild!

      Reply
      1. Ilene Kahn Power

        The merging of cultures is the new frontier…..and there we are. If our grandmothers could see us all! Please contact me on my email. I’d like to know where you are and get together. I’m still producing cable movies and miniseries. Was at HBO for many years. All the best, Ilene

        Reply
        1. Sara Post author

          You’re right, Ilene, about our grandmothers. Yang Fei and Andy will be coming to the U.S. when she gets her green card. Chinese people take English names chosen randomly, and some are pretty strange, like “Lucky” and “Sunflower.” One guy was named “Hitler,” for the sound, not knowing who the person was. Yang Fei has decided to take Fay, so she will be Fay Strauss. (my son’s last name) What’s hilarious is that Andy’s great grandmother, whom he knew as a child, was named Fay Strauss. The two look nothing alike! I live in Boulder, CO, and you can contact me via my personal email: leap@saradavidson.com Cheers!

          Reply
  37. Keiko

    Dear Sara,
    Thank you for your sharing beautiful Chinese wedding with many pictures.

    I enjoyed the story very much even the newspaper posting your son’s wedding showed the conflict between Japan and China over small islands.

    I feel our present government party has no brain to claim the small island as Japanese one.

    I have never seen the Chinese wedding ceremony, so it is very interesting. I found your two daughters, your son and your whole family are very attractive.
    (even your ex-husband too, he is quite good-looking gentleman).

    So you will visit China often from now on because you have a family there ?

    And Master Sha will start teaching his own people around from 2015 or 2016. I hope I can visit China too.

    Very interesting country indeed!.

    Reply
  38. Joey Bortnick

    That’s so exciting, Sara! Mozel Tov!!!! What a beautiful wedding ceremony! Thanks for sharing this. Sounds like a great adventure, romantic, bold, exotic, inspiring.

    Reply
  39. Wilma Greenfield

    WOW – How beautiful! Thank You for sharing the wedding with us. You are really blessed! How sweet it is!!
    As a product of the 60’s and Berkeley,too, I shared many of the same experiences and feel so blessed! My life started in Brookline,Mass. and I subsequently lived in Bennington,Vt.,SanFrancisco,Berkeley,Durham,NH,
    Boca Raton,Fl.,Tokyo,Japan,and now I’m retired in Tulsa,OK. Yes,I treasure the journey! Who could ask for anything more!!!

    Reply
  40. twiggy

    This was such a fun read!!
    My two nieces through my partnership, who came to live with us when they were 12 and 14, are now 24 and 26. They definitely wear the scars of a very difficult childhood, and I’m afraid it wasn’t heaven at our house either. It’s been amazing to see them grow. Sometimes I meet twenty-somethings who really seem passionate and well-spoken and making great headway on leading successful lives, and I wish “my girls” were a little more mature. But I think about what they have come through, and as we get closer again after an estranged period, I’m just glad to have them, and the little boy of the younger one. I tried for a long time to have kids, so I’m just grateful to have them in my life, even though their lives are not what I wanted for them. This article made me wonder what unexpected things I will see from their lives as time goes on.

    Reply
  41. Sharon

    Sounds and looks sumptuous. And, oh, that fish therapy: I do want to try it.

    Mazel Tov. And thanks for sharing such a tantalizing experience.

    Reply
  42. terry stuart

    Beautiful!!! Brought a tear to my eye. I’m amazed by your unique approach to life and your wonderful creations.

    Reply
  43. Palle Rilinger

    Pretty wonderful!! I was waiting for your account to accompany the other photos and videos I’ve seen, and it was so touching. I felt I was there. I’m smiling and appreciating the joy I know you felt. Love, Palle

    Reply
  44. Mariah

    Congratulations, Sara. I am forwarding your post to each of my two daughters. I believe marriage and family are sacred, which is why I divorced with the price of 4 years of alienation from my daughters. My younger daughter now resides with me in a 400 sq ft studio, and my elder is a freshman in college. Your true life ritual demonstrates while customs change and sometimes challenges seem unbearable, that love is timeless.

    Reply
  45. Ivy Post author

    Hi, Dear Sarah,
    Thanks so much for sharing your impressions of the wedding with me. It’s great to read your writing and it made me remember the whole wedding very clearly. I remember when i first met Andy on his second day in CHina, a young handsome guy that knew nothing about China, he was just a kid really. Now he’s grown up a LOT, speaks Chinese fluently, and has a CHinese wife..what an amazing process to have watched all these years, you should be very proud of him!
    Thanks a lot for the writing, I am really enjoy your writing! I’ll be in the USA soon and maybe we can see you there!

    Reply
  46. Jill and Mike

    Fantastic! We’re so happy for Andy and for you and Glen and Rachel. The joining of the families is a wonderful and moving way to think about marriage. Mazeltov!

    Reply
  47. joan borysenko

    How do you say kvell in Mandarin? What a privilege to get a glimpse into your new expanded family, and to have a vicarious experience of such a splendid and meaningful ritual.

    Mazel Tov, Mama

    Reply
  48. Nancy

    Totally awesome!!! I loved every single minute of this story. It is all so romantic. He is one handsome man and she is exquisite and you are so blissed out. Thanks so much for sharing this joy.
    Loving that we had our time together ….. hope we get more soon.

    Reply
  49. Harriet Wrye

    You Rock, Mama! This description is surreally real–I can feel the fish nibbling my dead skin off, the tears running down my cheeks, my jaw dropping time and time again at the redness and suchness of it all and the beauty of it all. It was great having a modest 3 not 350 person repast with you in Boulder, hearing about this in person, but this version is fabulous.
    We’re having a great time in LA Book Touring with PULLING UP STAKES (www.pullingupstakesbook.com)–but Boy, are we smart, you and ME–for leaving LA–it is a traffic jam in a concrete jungle. Yesterday, we took refuge and went with my sister to the Huntington Library and Gardens–it was closed but my sis is a “fellow” or something and we sailed in–no one else was there and the Japanese garden was such a respite for the soul–and guess what, the beautiful new Chinese Garden has lots of—you guessed it—RED!

    Sending Mazel Tovs–and forwarding this to very mother I know. xxx Harriet

    Reply
  50. John Post author

    Tears rolled down my face (not quite as many!) when yours did — no time and space really, just data streams . What a simply beautiful, evocative story of a Wedding in China. I hope it finds a broader audience. You write so well, so compactly, simply with so much left unsaid, but known. You must be a writer, and a gifted one at that. You’re a great agent of open intelligence!

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  51. Tom

    Hello Sara

    Congradulations…
    It’s rather obvious that you had fun..and are quite proud and appear somewhat surprised..of the directions of close family members…. ie your son…It’s certainly a new world..

    The Chinese are fascinating people..on a one to one basis I find them quite warm and very competent in whatever endeavor they set themselves too..they have absolutely no sense of humor..and seem to lack an empathy for the individual.

    They don’t care how they do it in America..They will do it their way…As a merchant marine Officer.. I spent a month in a Chinese ship yard… about 2 hrs north of Shanghai …Nantung..I went to a store..ordered some cloth and had a custom suit made..When I tried it on behind some curtain..the entire clothes dept probably about 20 people were out in front..no privacy(LOL) wanting to see it and how it fit..many oohs and aahs quite funny..

    It just took me 33 days at sea alone single-handed from Tahiti to American Samoa..I have not been in a country in six years whose language was English..I arrived half dead but half alive and recovering physically..I just saw the presidential debate and it brought tears to my eyes..One really appreciates America when away for so long..

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  52. Terrence

    Sara, Wonderful. I remember when you first told me about Andy and his true immersion. This must have been a remarkable experience for you all. Good for him for opting for the ritual — when in China, do what the Chinese used to do.

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  53. Ron

    All I could think of as I was reading is what a remarkable, nearly surreal journey you’ve been on since arriving at Berkeley so many years ago. Talk about changes…

    Reply
  54. wendy (rogers) tucker

    You and your attitude create hope for our future, wider horizons for us all. Congratulations to bride and groom and all family members and friends!

    Reply
  55. Dee Dee Hirsch

    Hi Sara!

    What an amazing adventure! My favorite part of life is never knowing what could be waiting around the corner. Who could have predicted dead skin sucking fish? Hope you are doing well. Let’s talk soon and get together.

    Love,

    Dee Dee

    Reply
  56. Diana

    I was delighted to step into the magical event of the wedding through your beautiful writing and pictures. It must have been one of the most sacred events of a life-time. Many Blessings to you all ….

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  57. Vicki

    I am getting on a plane tomorrow to go to China and will see Andrew at the end of the trip. The wedding looks amazing and I can’t wait to see him and meet his wife. Vicki

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  58. beverly kai

    Joan… decades ago you rejected your culture and plunged headlong into The New.

    Why are you surprised that your son does the same????

    My dad came to this country by ship in 1912 – — yet he was upset when I took off to travel the world by myself.

    We are people who don’t get our feet stuck in the door.

    All the best to you and your new family.

    Bev

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  59. Joan Tillich

    A beautiful wedding,congratulations.your son is handsome,courageous adventurous and looks like he loves life. What a joy and blessing.happy for you,Sara..as only Sara can write a moving,soulful,descriptive story with joy love and humor.your new daughter is beautiful and looks precious. Your son is one of a kind.he is extremely smart too. Red is my favorite color.i really liked the pictures.thank you for sharing with me.

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  60. Kathryn Turpin

    Hey Sara! It’s Kathryn from Austin.

    What a terrific report on Andy’s wedding! I love all of your blogs (and I read each of them greedily), but I particularly enjoyed this one. The photos are great! I could just see Jerry getting into the fish pool. I also loved seeing Rachel as part of the wedding photos. I am also so incredibly happy for Andy and glad that he has found such happiness. Isn’t that what we always want for our children?

    On a similar note, my stepson just returned from his sophomore (high school) year in Osaka, Japan, as an exchange student. It’s not exactly like Andy’s move to China – but, still, I was impressed that, at age 15, he develped sensitivity to such a different culture and that he was able to become such a part of a very different world.

    If it comes up, please give Andy and Yang Fei my very best wishes. Please give my best to Rachel, too.

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  61. Sandra

    You mention searching for intimations in your son’s childhood of Chinese inclinations. As another blog comment also suggested, casting your net wide
    enough to include yourself reveals an Eastern inclination.

    My publication harvest brings two items this month:

    Published journalism about Japan and nuclear power
    http://www.apdforum.com/en_GB/article/rmiap/articles/online/features/2012/10
    /05/japan-nuclear-power

    Digital graphic story about my adventures with Lilly’s dolphin project in
    the 1980s (smooth entertainment after a two minute loading time)
    http://www.arthousecoop.com/library/6056#page-slide_2

    Mazel tov!

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  62. Linda

    Sara- loved the article and the pictures- also wonderful finally meeting you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Ms. Tina.

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  63. Charles Steinberg

    Thanks you for this. I loved your writing it in the present tense. I felt present. I recalled the weddings in Nepal with a similar entourage off to fetch the bride, covered in red veils, in a hand held cart, and in Uganda, where there is the play haggling from the brides family before they present the bride to the groom who has presented cows, cases of soda and everything in between to prove his true love.

    I think over the generations cultures have found wonderful ways to traditionalize young love setting out on life’s journey. Bless this couple.

    Reply
  64. Irene

    via searching for something totally unrelated, I stumbled upon your page and after a brief look, was utterly fascinated and read every word. What a beautiful description of the ceremony and congratulations on all of you for embracing a new ‘daughter’ into your life. May they have a long and happy life together! All good wishes from South Africa

    Reply
    1. Sara Post author

      Thanks, Irene, for your heartfelt wishes. Less than a week ago, my son and his bride came to live with me in Colorado while they adjust to life in the U.S. and figure out how and where they want to live. My cup runneth over. Have a happy new year!

      Reply
  65. Livingstone

    “world culture” well said. Congratulations to you and your family. I only just stumbled across this blog while googling info on Chinese sedan procession because in about 2days, my Chinese fiancé and I will be doing just this. I am from England and around about the time your son was getting married last year, I proposed to my Chinese girlfriend on September 8, 2012 and fiancé just told me two days ago our wedding is a combination of the ancient sedan procession with traditional costumes and the modern western style white gown and a tux outfit. So we are having the mix. Luckily for your son he had your support and friends to attend, but unfortunately for me, I am out here alone about to experience this whole excitement as I could not convince my mum to fly out to join me. I am sure she wil be very dissapointed when she watches the wedding video and pics to see how it all went. Though I have had a lot of supports and well wish messages from friends around the world, it was just too much financial imposition to get people to fly out to China.
    Anyway, I think your son’s story is great and I am all up for globalisation and seeing the world and people as people and embracing and participating in our world as humans.

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  66. Elizabeth

    I was looking for answers to my life questions and I found this article. What a warm and beautiful description of your son, his wife and their loving ceremony. I was especially touched by Yang Fei’s words to you and your welcoming her as your daughter. I, too, have an only son, and would have loved to have had a daughter as well, but never did – for similar reasons as you had. Today, I think of my son’s girlfriend of seven years, and I feel I can relate to the thoughts you shared.
    Thank you so much.

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  67. Lily

    Sara – love all your books. Are you still writing today ? Interested in writing my life story?
    Singapore Chinese Girl made good in the USA. married to an american. 2 great Hawaiian born Girls schooled in the USA. Want to hear more?
    Think my story will be better than The Joy Luck Club

    Reply
  68. Kerry Langan

    Sara, thank you so much for sharing this account of your son’s wedding. My daughters, now teens, were born in China, adopted by my husband and me as infants, and I’d like them to read about your son’s experience. Our older daughter just spent the summer doing research at Peking University and I imagine she’ll be returning to China frequently in the future. This account of your time there is as warm and wonderful and real as all of your writing.

    Reply
  69. Mary Lou Seiler

    As I read about your son’s move to China & subsequent wedding, the joining of the two families & your interjections of your own religious events, I was struck by the thought that Love is Love. It really has nothing to do w/religions, cultures, or any of the things that we, as a society, let keep us apart. It is coming together, respecting & accepting differences. We are all “family”. What a beautiful story & I thank you for sharing it.

    Reply
    1. Sara Post author

      Thanks, Mary Lou, I totally agree. Love is all you need. My son and his wife have moved back to the U.S. and are living with me, which is proving to be a joy! Even though she couldnt’ speak a word of English when she got here, we’re able to converse now. All it took was love.

      Reply
  70. Jude Blitz

    I’m your hundredth monkey to respond: Sara, mazel tov and loving congratulations to you one year and a month late. I’m often slow to get the news.
    I appreciate every moment of this wedding tale, and now the tale of your first born grandchild. I get to hear the stories of your LEAP! into the 70s.
    May joy continue to abound.
    Looking forward to Reb Z’s and your collaboration.
    Jude

    Reply