A Chinese Wedding


We went to a Chinese Wedding tonight. My wife does wedding make-up for these, so she goes all the time. Tonight, however, the bride asked for me to take some photos and for the kids to go along. As my brother was in town, he came along as well.

Sanley's day started at about 6AM, when she had to go along and sort out the bride's makeup for the 'refusing the groom entrance' games. (A traditional Chinese Bride has to refuse the groom entrance for a little bit, even if they're actually living together.) Then she had to make sure that the make up (and it's a lot of makeup - the bride has to be flawless) was ok at the registry.

After all the legal stuff, a Chinese couple has to throw a banquet for all their friends (and colleagues, and acquaintances...), so at about 5pm, we all turned up in the Star Seafood Floating Restaurant in Sha Tin. Let me tell you right away, that this is not a real floating restaurant, unless Science has found a way to make vast quantities of concrete float. It's more like a building with a moat. Or maybe one which happens to have a two foot puddle around it.

So, first things first, I'm the photographer, so I lurk there with my Z1-p and FTZ-500. and take a few snaps. Only there are now three photographers (or maybe more) and all the others have Nikon D100s. (This is a state of the art digital SLR.) These other guys are flailing through shots, stopping only to change battery packs and the occasional CF card. I, meanwhile, am working on the zen of removing a roll of film with one hand while inserting one with the other. This is hard work.

Note to self: Never wear shiny shoes at wedding ever again. If you're going to be standing and taking photos, comfortable shoes are the order of the day. Also, you'd pretty much have to turn up naked to be the worst dressed guy at a Chinese wedding, so wear comfortable clothes. One of the witnesses from the registry ceremony came straight to the banquet in the jeans and polo shirt that he was wearing then. And there were people there (including one of the photographers) who looked like they made some time from their busy schedule of cleaning sewage pipes to pop along to the banquet.

Every combination of friends, relatives and colleagues of the bride and the groom was paraded in front of the photographers and we dutifully snapped frame after frame of people staring expressionlessly at the cameras. (Meanwhile the kids (including mine, sad to say) were running riot around, so we'd have to choose a moment when no sproglets were in shot. Pentax's autofocus is very bad at that, so I'd normally focus on the bride, then turn AF off and wait for the right moment.)

Meanwhile, Alan (my brother) took over the second hat I was expected to wear - that of Candid black and white photographer. Apparently the bride and groom had read some arty publication which glorified the candid black and white shot and wanted that. That stuff is very difficult to do. And you certainly can't do it while also trying to get formal colour shots. So Alan has my MZ-5, stuffed full of T400CN and Portra 400BW. (My Z1-p is stocked with Kodak Portra 160NC, a lovely film with gorgeous skin tones. This is ok for a Chinese wedding, were makeup makes people look like they don't spend too much time in the sun. At an Irish wedding, where half the girls have slathered on the orange foundation which makes them look like Oompa-Loompas, I'd want either 160VC or Fuji Velvia, to really make that orange sear your eyeballs and make you want to sing the Oompa-Loompa song.)

Luckily, after only four hours of group shots, the food started. (The last twenty minutes of shots were carefully chosen to avoid the tables being shuttled in by the staff.)

As is traditional at a Chinese wedding, Roast Suckling Pig was the first dish. Just think crackling, if you've never been to a Chinese wedding. Me, I like this. My brother, like many unsuspecting victims of real Chinese food, was a bit stunned. He didn't partake of much of the delicacies. A shame really, I thought the Snake Soup and the Abalone were rather good. As were the Scallops and the steamed Garoupa. I was put off by the Chicken, which always appears to have been starved to death because it's so scrawny, but which does taste quite nice, if you can eat around the bony bits. I donated all the fleshy bits to my little brother, as he'd avoided the earlier dishes, and was looking rather hungry. They didn't even have cider for him, just Carlsberg or 7up.

So, finally the wedding banquet is finished, it's time to go home. I have ten rolls of film to get processed. The guys with the Nikon D100s are smirking. "We save megabucks per year because we don't have to pay for processing and printing.", they say. And they're right. If you take a lot of photos, digital is yer only man. I am just waiting for the Pentax *istD to come here. Also waiting to win the Mark6 (Lottery) so I can afford one, of course. When you have no job, and the money is running out, thoughts of buying $20,000 DSLRs are a bit pie in the sky.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on September 11, 2003 2:25 AM.

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