After nearly an hour on the road, dressed in our suits and ties, but trying to get some sleep, knowing that the day would go on for hours and hours, we arrived in Jiayi, Taiwan. This was the home of the bride, Mandy Wang, who that evening, in nearby Taichiung, Taiwan, was to marry one of my best friend, Peter Zee.
The bride’s home was alive, nearly a dozen people scattered in the open living room.
“Are you ready?” I said to one of the other best men, Pelumi.
We were ready. To bring a Taiwanese bridge to the wedding, we would have to prove ourselves. Mandy’s family had prepared signs, in English and Chinese, telling us what we should do.
Immediately a large cup arrived, filled to the brim with beer, along with four straws.
The second dare – for Peter to eat a piece of seaweed off of the head of each of the best men. We laid down, while one of the girls put thin strips of seaweed on our face.
Next, kiss one of the best men on the lips through a piece of plastic wrap. Write I love you on a piece of paper (amazingly, easier in Chinese than English) with your toes.
That evening was the actual ceremony. Nearly 500 people in a vast, crowded hall, a stage with an MC. I summoned the courage to give a speech, with Peter translating. There was no dancing, like in an American wedding, but hundreds of cheers and lots of liquor flowing.
“Come on, we have to go each table and take a shot!” said Peter, appearing out of nowhere at our table. “And make sure my mom doesn’t drink too much.”
Luckilly, Taiwanese shot glasses are small – maybe 1/4th the size of ours – which, then you factor in 80 tables, only helps marginally.
After a seafood heavy (Taiwan is a island, of course) nine course meal – nine being a lucky number in Chinese culture -
The day wasn’t over though. Peter’s aunts were awake, and had taken a liking to us, especially Varun and his Japanese speaking skills, and took us to a hole-in-the-wall Karaoke bar.
This was what a wedding should be – a celebration of life, culture, and friendship. It was warm and welcoming and truly made this union between two people special. It was far more fun than any wedding I’d ever attended in America except maybe one (Dia de los Muertos!)
I was honored to attend, and honored to be a best man for Peter Zee, and wish him and Mandy a happy and wonderful life together.