Marrying Amy – Conclusion
The comedic story of an English guy marrying a Taiwanese girl and the misunderstandings and cultural clashes which ensue.
Having travelled to Taiwan to get permission to marry Amy from her Father, enduring cat attacks, fundamentalist Christian singing, excessive sweating, cultural misunderstandings and having paid 3,000 for a few pre-wedding photos, I finally found myself back in Taipei, about to get married.
My Parents, Sister and a few other relatives came out to Taiwan for the big occasion. Now, my Parents are lovely, but I think it’s fair to say that my Dad isn’t the smartest dad in the ad bag. He had agreed to act as my Best Man for the day, and was very nervous. I was pretty nervous myself and not entirely sure I shouldn’t have gone with my Sister as Best Man, but, ah, it was too late to change now.
So, in a Taiwanese wedding there are one or two customs which are a little different to ours. One is their engagement parties, which normally take place a few weeks before the wedding, but in our case, because of people coming from abroad, took place the night before. The engagement is basically a big family meal, but a key cultural part of it is that the Grooms family have to leave quietly, without saying goodbye, before the fish dish is served. Basically sneak out. So, despite having been told a million times that it was vital that he didn’t say goodbye of course my Dad couldn’t help himself, just as he was about to exit the room he turned back and said goodnight to the packed room, informing them all “see you for the wedding”. The room full of Taiwanese people just started back, unable to believe it.
This had set things a little on edge with Amy’s family, but by the next morning everyone had almost forgotten about it and we were all excited about the big day. Another Taiwanese custom is that the Groom has to go round to the Bride’s house to pick her up and take her to the wedding. Before he is allowed in her house the Bride’s friends set him some tasks to do, which he has to perform correctly in order to gain admission to the house. The Best Man can come along with the Groom and can do half of the tasks with him. So, early in the morning, in sweltering Taiwanese June heat, my Dad and me were stood on the doorstep of Amy’s Parent’s house, being quizzed on what was Amy’s favorite meal, and other such questions, designed to test how well I know her. Following the questions, there are physical tests. Now, this is the part where the best man can really help out. So, when I was asked to do 50 press-ups, on the doorstep, in 35 degree heat, I really hoped my Dad could help me out. Now my Dad is a funny little fat man with a big ginger beard, kinda like a ginger Father Christmas, so I guess I shouldn’t have expected too much. What I didn’t expect however was for him to struggle to do one press-up, to fart loudly as he struggled to push himself up and for both of the buttons on his suit jacket to burst off as he strained. Great, everybody is laughing at us, and now I’m going to have to do all these bloody press-ups on my own.
So, with some slight bending of the rules, we managed to pick up Amy and finally got to the church for the wedding. Following the traditional format, the Groom and Best Man enter first, followed by the Bridesmaids who scatter flowers ahead of the bride, except that, as soon as Amy’s two young nieces, who were acting as Bridesmaids, saw my Dad ahead of them they both started crying and refused to scatter their flowers or go anywhere near the ‘foreigner’. So, with a minor restructuring of the Brides entourage we managed to get the Bride to the altar and get the two of us married.
On to the reception, which we had conceived as a merging of the two cultures, so we had a mini video story of how Amy and I met, which is a Taiwanese custom, and the Best Man’s speech, which is not a tradition in Taiwan. So, imagine, my Dad stands up in front of a room full of people who are not familiar with the tradition of the Best Man embarrassing the Groom on his most important day, and starts to tell them about the time his own son pissed himself in the local shop, and the time he shat himself in a school assembly, and the time he locked himself out of his chalet, stark naked in a holiday camp in North Wales. Well, all the Taiwanese people; my new family, sat there in horror as this list of atrocities was read out, unable to comprehend why my Father seemed to hate me so much that he would do this to me on my special day. Even with Amy interpreting, and trying to minimize the impact, there were still looks of horror from all around the room. And my poor Father, expecting everyone to be laughing along with him, was himself shocked to be delivering his speech in silence.
Oh dear, I thought to myself, maybe this merging of cultures wasn’t such a good idea.