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Couple's museum wedding celebrates ancient styles

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco | | Updated: 2016-12-19 13:51

Some of Chris' co-workers saw their hanfu pictures and thought they looked very Japanese.

"Vietnamese ao dai, Korean hanbok and Japanese kimono, they all basically derived from hanfu," said Chris. "We had a good time explaining (it) to people."

That's when Chris decided to make it a learning experience for the guests, because they were in a museum. They also prepared intricately designed models of classical Chinese pagodas for a centerpiece, and jue, ancient bronze drinking vessels, as gifts.

"What's really cool is the museum actually has them (the real artifacts) on display," Chris said.

Complementing the Tang-style wedding was the traditional Spring River Flower Moon Night, a famous Tang Dynasty poem, and the serene movements of a peacock dance performed by children from the China Dance Theatre.

"People nowadays may know certain Chinese wedding traditions, but they may not appreciate nor necessarily know that our wedding traditions stretch back to the Zhou Dynasty and have such a rich background to them," said Chris, a history buff.

He said it felt good to know that they celebrated their wedding the same way that their ancestors and countless others before them may have.

"We can't help but feel a strong sense of continuity, of being a part of something greater than ourselves, and we recognize the privilege we have in being able to say we did all of this," he said.

The couple spent months planning the day. Their families and friends assumed they would have a Western-style wedding without Chinese ornamentation.

"But I think when they saw it all come together, they were very surprised in a good way," Chris said.

They wanted their wedding to be not only unique but to inspire their guests' interests in their own culture and history.

"The guests were white, black, India... all kinds of people at the wedding. I think after they saw the way we put a lot effort into celebrating our heritage, they may want to do something like that," Chris said.

The museum has become a popular wedding venue, with more than 200 couples exchanging vows there since 2004.

According to the museum's facility rental program, the number of weddings performed at the museum has risen 240 percent since 2009.

"We've hosted weddings for Americans of Chinese descent as well as destination weddings for couples living in China," said Minda J. Quickel, the program's associate director. "We are thrilled when couples choose to share and express their culture and heritage through wedding traditions, performances and décor."

The museum also offers services such as private gallery tours during weddings that highlight artwork from a couple's heritage and culture.

"We're eager to learn about all cultures and are grateful to couples who educate us about and share their cultures and religions with us," Quickel said.

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