This past weekend, I had the great honour and privilege to be a guest at the wedding ceremony and reception of Joseph Fung and Michelle Tam. Of the 1,200 guests at the evening gala at the “new” Vancouver Convention Centre West, I cannot imagine how many are business associates of the father of the groom, Thomas Fung, founder of the Fairchild Group. We were guests by being related to the bride. :)
I wondered how much media coverage the event would receive but you know what? A great deal of it would just escape me because it is in Chinese. I have tried to search Ming Pao and didn’t turn up anything the next day or today. I did see The Globe and Mail article which was light on details. So, here is the inside scoop.
Being part of the bride’s family, our festivities started really early at the bride’s family house with door games played by the groom and his groomsmen followed by a tea ceremony for the bride’s family. A private ceremony for over 100 guests took place at the groom’s family home in Vancouver. It was an outdoor ceremony and although it sprinkled then rain changing to gusts blowing the precipitation sideways, all of this was anticipated and we were nicely sheltered under tent and parasols. I believe, but did not attend, that a tea ceremony for the groom’s family was then conducted inside the groom’s family house.
At the behest of the mother of the bride, we were at the convention center – my favourite venue in the city – rather early, ahead of the cocktail reception. The entire west half of the main floor including two ballrooms, the atrium area and outdoor terrace were (including where Digital Orca stands) was reserved for us for the evening. The entrance to the atrium was lined with green hedges that flanked a gate with “M” and “J” spelled in pink flowers. Fabulous.
Inside the “garden”, chefs from Culinary Team Canada prepared thousands of servings of a dozen different hors d’oeuvres.
To not hover impolitely, we wandered around, starting with checking out the decadently decorated ballroom. On alternating tables, tall vases displayed floral arrangements dripping with white orchids and glass beads or hydrangea and orchid flowerballs. The wedding party (14 in total) would sit at a long head table with their back to the floor to ceiling windows overlooking Burrard Inlet and North Vancouver. Two dance floors were laid out and a second long table was right next to the center dance floor where the couple’s parents and other elders would be seated. Party favours included both macaron and truffles from Aimé Patisserie. There were two stages, one for the jazz band that would play throughout dinner and another for the vocal band that would sing a whole range of songs to dance to.
A large portion of the west terrace adjacent to the convention center was closed off for the private use of the gala guests, an area usually overrun with tourists. It was splendid to hang out on the terrace in peace, have a drink at several small table-clothed tables along the windows with beautiful Chiavari style (I had to look it up) ghost chairs.
And then, after a tasteful amount of time after the cocktail reception began, we descended upon the serving tables, me bent on trying each of the one dozen different dishes and restricting myself to one sample (no seconds for me). Who knew that a small amount of Arctic char with crispy skin and balanced with smoky lentils and turnip puree would be so satisfying? My other favourite was the pear and brie empanada with the usual divine combination of pear, brie, walnut and (thyme) honey with the added wonderfully crumbly savoury “empanada” pastry with shortbread consistency.
Our emcees for the evening were Clement Tang of Fairchild Television and Deborah Moore of Fairchild Radio. Fairchild, as I know it best, is an all-Chinese channel that our parents – and especially our grandparents – would subscribe to and play all day long; we second gen’ers don’t shell out $25 per month and stick to the English-language channels. And if I had to commute, I would listen to Fairchild Radio… In any case, the brand is very familiar to us and – as Wikipedia told me – the group encompasses more than I thought, including a chain of bakeries and a Chinese mall in Richmond.
Seriously, the rest of the evening doesn’t even properly registered, I was overstimulated by being so impressed. A dozen or so young ballerinas from the Goh Ballet Academy performed to lead in the entrance of the wedding party. Later in the evening, several couples from Grupo America performed a tango followed by (I’m guessing) a salsa number. It was a mind-boggling meld between a gala and a wedding with the usual wedding element like speeches, kissing/games, toasts, cake cutting and slide shows. But the business associates far, far outnumbered personal guests.
The food was delicious and while it started late, I didn’t feel as if it was long we were waiting for it. I did not grasp the meaning of “Mini wedding cake” on the menu until the time we were anticipating dessert – it was adorable!
After dinner, we were invited to watch the same-day edit of the wedding (events from earlier in the day the majority of the guests did not attend) which had the quality of an artistic and moving short film and then to turn our attention to the window for a “surprise”. The family knew already what to expect so our table eagerly lined the windows and got a front row view of “private” fireworks that were also for the rest of the city to enjoy. Gee, that’s all!