chinese charm


080715BYR30{Our Rehearsal Dinner}

After Wednesday’s post paying tribute to my parents, my Chinese pride is at an all-time high, so what better time than now to share a look at our proudly Chinese rehearsal dinner?

Having a Chinese-themed dinner had long been a wish of mine. When Brian and I first got engaged, I had absolutely no clue what style of wedding I wanted (“rustic” was the leader for a hot second. ha!), but knew exactly what I had in mind for the evening before: a big family-style feast surrounded by friends and family, in full red and gold glory. The dream was lofty and the reality didn’t disappoint.   

I placed such an importance on this dinner that the restaurant search was as long and arduous as it was for the wedding venue. I knew this was my one big shot at paying tribute to my heritage, and I wanted to do it justice, not in any old Chinese restaurant, but a nice-looking one that looked the part, in Cleveland. Our work was cut out for us.

And just when it seemed like all hope was lost as recommendations for Thai and Japanese restaurants started coming my way (…there’s a difference, people), we found Emperor’s Palace, and all was well. 

I mean, look at those gold ceilings and gold walls and the chairs and the details in the windows! I was sold. It was everything I had hoped for and more. Although it did take some extra work on our part to pull off what you see above. 

The restaurant staff and owners were great, but the one thing I wasn’t keen on were the linens that they usually use for private events. Peach-colored tablecloths and orange napkins didn’t quite jive with what I’d envisioned. So, my choices were to shrug and live with my options, or find myself some more. You can guess what I did. 

Enlisting some help from the professionals, I asked our wedding florist for red tablecloths, gold napkins, simple centerpieces of roses in gold vases, and gold votives. Not a cheap request, but so very worth it to me. When I was considering some other options, I was pleased to learn that throwing a private party at a Chinese restaurant was, on average, much less expensive than anywhere else. So the point is, I was able to justify, or have at least fooled myself into justifying the extra florist bill. 

But the details didn’t end there. No, no. After lots of online ordering, and countless hours of help, most especially from my friends Rohini, Megan, Kate, my brother Bowen (who played a big hand in the design of the invites, signage and menu), my mom, and our wonderful photographer Kayla, we completed the scene, and our guests brought the party. 

More details shots and info below. 

Instead of using traditional table numbers, I assigned each table a chinese character, picking happy words like love, peace, family, beauty, health and harmony. This was my attempt to get people learning some chinese with the english translation and phonetic spelling at the top and bottom.

With help from my brother, I threw these signs together in Photoshop, printed them on 5×7 cardstock, and because I couldn’t find simple gold table number holders to save my life, Brian helped spray paint silver ones that I picked up at Michael’s. Brian laughs that this was his only contribution to the planning of this little shindig. He’s not wrong.  

I had a lot of fun with the place cards too. Obviously.

Each card included the table names in both English and Chinese and were cutely tucked into fortune cookies. 

Not just any old fortune cookies, but custom ones that we ordered from this seller. We had about 12 different fortunes, each with the lucky numbers 8, 8, 15 for our wedding date. My favorite was, “More than likely, you will eat a similar meal on Christmas day.” Get it? Big Jewish and Chinese crowd in attendance. 

At each place setting were menus, wedding-themed chopsticks, and take-out boxes beautifully wrapped in red ribbon (HUGE thank you to Rohini, Megan, Kate and Bowen for doing all of that), and as a bonus I included Chinese zodiac placemats typical of many restaurants. Emperor’s Palace didn’t have any themselves, so I brought them in myself after ordering them from Amazon. They added to the red and gold theme and I thought they’d make for fun table conversation. 

Really more of a small gesture than anything, the take-out boxes included milk and white chocolate Lindor truffles (I picked them for their wrapping and because they’re delicious), more fortune cookies, and matcha green tea Kit Kats. They’re amazing if you haven’t already tried them. You can find them at World Market or most asian stores. You’ll be forever changed. 

A few more pictures:

080715BYR20 080715BYR13 080715BYR16 080715BYR95
And the food! Who doesn’t love Chinese food? Just the kind of fried and fatty food a bride should be eating right before taking the most important pictures of her life. 

We ordered 10 family-style dishes per table, which we knew would be a lot. What we didn’t expect was how big the dishes would actually be, so I feel a little badly about all the food that went to waste. But the idea of “abundance” is something really big at Chinese weddings, something like you need an abundance of food to usher in a prosperous and abundant life. I guess this means Brian and I have a very rich and overstuffed future to look forward to.

080715BYR141 080715BYR144 080715BYR159080715BYR143 080715BYR160

And because all of this would have been for nothing if not for our guests, the vast majority of which traveled to get there. Here are a few more. 

080715BYR33{With Brian’s Uncle Peter, I suppose he’s mine too now}080715BYR164

{The Chinese table representing}080715BYR166

{With my Grandfather, the most VIP guest of them all}080715BYR163

080715BYR162 080715BYR161 {Friends who feel like family}080715BYR99

And that’s a wrap. For anyone interested in throwing a chinese-themed feast of their own, here’s a recap (with links!) of the items I ordered to pull this thing off. I hope someone finds this helpful, because in case you couldn’t tell, I really love all things Chinese and want others to feel the very same way. 

Take-out boxes (Paper Mart)
Red crinkle paper and ribbon to complete take-out boxes (Paper Mart)
Chinese Zodiac placemats  (Amazon)
Double Happiness chopsticks (Aliexpress)
Lindor truffles (Amazon)
Custom fortune cookies (Tankinz)

Once more, a big thank you to Rohini, Megan, Kate, Bowen and my mom for so much help very late into the night before. And to our dear friend Mike for stepping in as the bartender when the one we hired was a no-show, and to Doug, Kate and Zak for being on top of the ice game. You were all lifesavers.

Let me end with how good it feels to have blogged for a full week. Next week: actual recipes. Have a great weekend! 

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One Response to chinese charm

  1. Eeeek it is perfect! Loved hearing about all the details–probably the coolest rehearsal dinner I’ve seen.

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