The ceremony and reception took place at the “Overture Performing Center for the Arts” in downtown Madison.  When I was in college, I would occasionally see weddings there when walking down State Street. I always knew I wanted my wedding to be there.  It is a beautiful building with glass windows from floor to ceiling.  It is also attached to the “Modern Museum of Contemporary Art”.  Decorating the Overture was not needed, as the room itself created the amazing atmosphere.  But we added a few touches here and there of our Chinese themed wedding of cranes, orchids, and bamboo.  Stringing the cranes was a huge pain and took hours and hours, but they really added a nice touch to the room.  If you know me, everything was created and made by us.  I refused to buy finished items from the store or online.  Although it created much frustration and stress, everything turned out perfect.

The ceremony was based on several Chinese traditions and beliefs, but it was also intertwined with some western ideas. The room was blessed and purified by our officiant, Jetsun Ma and a Tibetan monk, Lama Youngdrung.  Here are details taken from our program explaining the components to our ceremony.

Our ceremony takes a traditional Western ceremony and adds some traditions from different parts and eras of China. We have chosen some elements that come from Confucian philosophy, others from the Tibetan roots of Buddhism, and some from ancient customs and traditions.

A traditional Chinese ceremony celebrates the joining of two families, and blesses the young couple to follow in their parents’ paths. Thus, in addition to the customary groomsmen and bridesmaids, there will be large roles for the parents of the bride and groom in this ceremony.  As a blending of Western and Eastern traditions, our ceremony will actively involve all generations, young and old.

PROGRAM ELEMENTS

Loving Mother Prayers

The Loving Mother (Sherab Chamma) represents the qualities of compassion and wisdom.  The prayers will be recited by Jetsun Ma.

Candle Lighting

The two candles signify the light that emanates from a loving marriage. The candles will be lit by the parents of the groom, Dan and Darlene Strelow, so that they may share the light from their long lasting union. This is to send wishes for the bride and groom to follow in their path.

Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony honors the unification of two families. To show respect and gratitude, the couple will serve tea to their parents, to other family elders, and lastly the groom and bride will serve tea to each other. Assisting is Margo Hsu, a long-time family friend of the Wus. She serves the role of a “good luck woman”, one who is blessed with a good marriage, and healthy family. She will bless the bride and groom and help serve tea. Recipients of the tea offer gifts in red envelopes, placed under the tea cup.

Wedding Rings

The wedding rings symbolize the ever-lasting union of the bride and groom. Jetsun Ma will bless the wedding rings. The bride sits on a chair draped in red, her feet resting on a bamboo stool. This symbolizes a protection of her well-being and strong support of her vows to become a good wife to Brandon. After they exchange rings, Lama Youngdrung will recite the Auspicious and Dedication Prayers, blessing an everlasting union.

Sealing of the Marriage Certificate

After proclaiming the couple to be husband and wife, the officiant Jetsun Ma will sign a wedding certificate with congratulatory wishes. This certificate is then signed by both sets of parents, the officiant, and the groom and bride. Then each will affix their seal next to their signature, to signify the approval and completion of the marital union.

SYMBOLIC ELEMENTS

The Color Red

Red symbolizes the power of fire, which is dynamic, full of celebrative energy and offers strong protection.

Bamboo

Bamboo grows upward from the earth segment by segment, reaching great heights through strength and resilient flexibility, while lacking a heavy core. Chinese scholars, artists and poets use bamboo as a symbol for a fine gentleman, who maintains respect, advances successfully in life, yet remains humble and modest at heart.

Instruments

At the beginning, the drum, cymbal and gong are played individually to invite the presence of the divine, welcome our guests, and bestow peaceful, harmoneous energy upon everyone.  At the end of the ceremony, they are played together with bells to sound a joyful, celebrative, blissful note of congratulations.