From different cultural backgrounds, their wedding bore testimony to the power of love to overcome obstacles, and the importance of young couples being surrounded by family, community and prayer.
David and Xiaoqian's wedding was both cross cultural, blending Chinese and Canadian traditions; and counter cultural in that the focus was on getting married, not "the wedding," although that was lovely.
The reception hall in the church basement was decorated with Chinese lanterns, fans, lovely floral table centrepieces and origami birds.
The bride wore red; the traditional bridal colour in China; symbolizing good luck, happiness, vitality, joy and long life. Xiaoqian had ordered her red lace wedding dress and veil on-line; but the Chinese dress with stand up collar; in white delicate floral patterned satin; that she wore to the reception, was made to measure in a tailor's shop in Shanghai that has existed for 1000 years! Xiaoqian had four fittings for the exquisite dress, and at each one adjustments were made to create the perfect fit.
During the ceremony, the bride and groom looked into each other's eyes and seemed to see no one else as they vowed to love and value one another. Later they showed honour to their parents by kneeling and serving tea to them.
In China a daughter leaves the family upon marriage and becomes part of her bridegroom's family, and it is sons who care for their parents in old age. Lily and Xiaoqian have a close emotional bond and Lily's joy in her daughter's wedding was tinged with sorrow at letting her go. But David, in his speech, assured her that he had now become her son, she was not losing her daughter but gaining him. As his words were translated to her, Lily raised her hand in the air with a cry of joy, and then went to the podium and spontaneously made a speech in Chinese, translated by Xiaoqian, in which she expressed her gratitude and happiness. Their small family of two, had been enfolded by the large Stewart clan of 9 siblings, with spouses and many nieces and nephews.
After David and Xiaoqian left for a few days at Niagara Falls, Lily stayed with David's parents, Susan and Ron, until Thursday, when she was leaving for China. On Wednesday, Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve, Lily went shopping with Susan for the ingredients for a New Year's feast of all sorts of special delicacies, which she prepared for the family. David and Xiaoqian came back for the celebration and so that they could take her to the airport the next day. They literally rang in the New Year by ringing a bell high on the roof of the Stewart house.
Friday came and the many celebrations were over at last. But our memories remain, along with new friendships, to be cherished.