Planning a wedding from China

10 04 2010

We haven’t talked a whole lot about the wedding on the blog, mostly because no one cares about your wedding (your kid/your novel/your health/your pet) as much as you do, but planning one from China is certainly interesting. In a way, it makes many things easier- we can’t go visit three caterers so the first one we like, we book. It really makes you not sweat the small stuff. And there are some big perks that come along with living in China, one of which is being able to get your wedding dress custom-made for the price of a cheap bridesmaid dress.

I’d been looking around online for styles I liked (tea length, not fussy) and found a couple that would work. We printed out the pictures and headed to the two-story fabric market, which also houses tailors. Our pal, Clio, who speaks Chinese, generously offered to go with me. I can usually stumble through most transactions but was delighted to accept her translation help (and good taste!) She also rose to the challenge of documenting this adventure to share with my mom and sister, Jeremiah’s mom and sister, and my girlfriends. This blog’s for you, ladies!

First, we were told by the tailor we normally use that he doesn’t do formalwear but that two shops upstairs did. Well, naturally, we were drawn to the shop that was full of sequins, fur and feathers. Clearly, these are my people. We speak the same language… of sorts.

We showed her our photos and pulled up the originals online. This photo expresses my bewilderment perfectly. If you have eagle eyes, you can see my print out of dresses.

It was decided that we’d do a satin (that she had) with a lace overlay and headed out into the fabric market to hunt one down. The way the market is set up is that there are small rooms surrounding an open space of fabric kiosks, all with individual selections and owners. When you find what you like, be it fabric or a suit pattern to be constructed, you agree on a price and take the slip to a cashier to pay.

What lace overlay to choose?

We liked this daisy one a lot but it was 180 quai ($26) a meter and we’d need 6 meters because it’s narrow.

When we balked at the price (“but it’s Chinese good quality lace!”) we were offered this one, which was half the price and twice the width (so we’d need fewer meters.) SOLD! 3 meters for 105 quai ($15) each.

The more I look at this one, the more I like it. It reminds me of peacock feathers and paisley, which is a bit of an inside joke between Jeremiah and I. I don’t think he’d ever notice but it amused me so I think the right choice was made.

Clio got into her documentarian job and made me smile with the lace loaban (shop owner) like a dweeb so YOU could have the full experience. This also explains the shot of the market and lace being cut. When a sale is made, all of the neighboring people pitch in to cut or fold or offer advice.

Back to drag queen paradise aka the dress maker’s shop! We made the mistake of buying lace and picking out a dress before agreeing on a price (and we both know better! It most have been the wedding dress excitement.) and had to haggle her down from 1000 yuan ($150) to 525 yuan ($80) which will include the satin, pattern construction, assembly and a petticoat. So, the whole thing will set me back about $125. Not bad, eh?

Getting measured. Has she ever seen numbers this high?

Getting distracted while being measured.

Let’s talk length.

There was a dude in the corner sewing sequins on a bra (how do I get one of THOSE?!) while we worked with our dressmaker. After watching Clio snap photos for an hour, he didn’t want to be left out.

And, finally, my thoughts on wedding hair.

We go for a fitting on the 19th. We’ll keep you posted, but won’t be posting the dress because Jeremiah wants to keep a tradition or two.




One response

10 04 2010

Thanks for sharing the experience! The lace is very pretty and I love the feathers for the hair…must brighten up the white!!! You can’t hear my tone, but it is joking!

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