Last month I was in Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding. I’m happy to say that Daisy Hui married Brett Michalson on May 5, 2012.
I’ve known Daisy since high school and I was among six of her bridesmaids. Months before the wedding, she sent me links to Las Vegas wedding photographer web sites, and asked me for advice on choosing a photographer for the ceremony. She chose one and, now that we’ve seen the photos, it was definitely the right decision!
A few days before our flight, I got a call from Daisy and a voice mail – “Call me back, I need a favor.” Uh oh, what does she need me to carry on the plane and how much of it will there be? Do I need to drive to Houston to help her with something? Do I need to pick someone up at the airport when we get to Vegas?
I called her back, thinking I was going to have to figure out how many suitcases of mini bubbles I needed to take, or figure out what dress and shoes I needed to buy in the next 24 hours. But it was something much easier for me, and frankly, an honor.
She said she forgot to hire a photographer for the tea ceremony. …Tea ceremony?
Daisy is Chinese and she and Brett planned to do a traditional tea ceremony on the morning of the wedding. She didn’t tell me much about it over the phone, but I agreed to shoot it and went to Wikipedia to figure out the details.
I learned that the tea ceremony is the marriage ceremony in Chinese culture. The bride and groom gather with the bride’s family members in their home (in this case in a suite at the Cosmopolitan Hotel) and serve tea to her parents. This honors the bride’s family and acknowledges her upbringing.
After the bride’s parents are served, they give advice and blessings (mostly for children) to the couple.
Then they give the couple a gift in a red envelope marked with the Chinese symbol for double happiness. This is the only time that symbol is used. Also, jewelry is often exchanged.
Once gifts are exchanged, the bride and groom stand, facing each other, and bow three times. This makes them officially married in Chinese culture. But the ceremony’s not over yet!
After the parents are served, the siblings, in order of age, are served and gifts are exchanged. They are followed by aunts, uncles and any other family members.
The ceremony got personal and emotional. Daisy’s bridesmaids watched from the kitchen.
The next step is for the bride to leave her childhood home (or the Cosmo) and make the journey to her husband’s home. She is supposed to travel with a female elder, in this case her sister Dawn and a family friend who officiated the tea ceremony, under a red umbrella. She is not supposed to look back at her parents home. It’s considered bad luck.
We walked down the hall to the elevator because tradition states that Daisy had to leave the building and enter her husband’s home from outside.
Here’s where it got tricky. The elevator in the Cosmo is really busy on a Saturday. We ended up in probably the most crowded elevator I’ve ever been in, so we had some fun with it.
Back to the ceremony. We went outside, where Daisy took a walk under the umbrella, symbolizing her journey to her new husband’s home.
After a few minutes outside, we came back in and made our way to Brett’s room, where Daisy was left a married woman.
That was the end of the Chinese Tea Ceremony, but we still had the American wedding ceremony that afternoon. I was too busy holding flowers and posing for pictures to shoot that one, so I left it to the pro. Anyway, it was a complete honor to be a part of Daisy and Brett’s wedding and I wish them much more than double happiness.