Anecdote Three: Why didn’t you choose me to be your bridesmaid?
I thought I understood Western culture after seeing two documentaries about weddings. I knew that bridesmaids have to buy their own dresses and shoes according to the bride’s guidance. Who are willing to be bridesmaids? Therefore I thought I should not trouble my friends.
However my fiancé disagreed, “I have already asked our three sons to be the groomsmen. Many people feel it is an honor to be part of the wedding party.”
This made it more difficult to match bridesmaids with young men around twenty years old. I selected a few single girlfriends who were around forty years old, yet looked much younger. I also selected my younger sister who is twelve years younger than me, and she looks like a college student.
The bridesmaids were confirmed, and then I went to China for a month. Soon after I returned, I still was suffering the jet lag when I received a phone call from a teaching colleague and friend. “I know that the wedding is your big day. I should not interrupt your emotions at this time, but I have hesitated for four weeks and still could not help but tell you. I think I am your best friend, yet you did not choose me to be your bridesmaid, and I feel very sad.”
I was stuck dumb. I swear to God, I had never put her with the word "bridesmaid" together. First of all, in China, the bridesmaid has to be single and my friend has almost celebrated her "golden wedding anniversary" and has children and grandchildren. Secondly, the bridesmaids, in many American wedding documentaries look obese. Often the bride invites ugly bridesmaids to reflect her beauty. I want my bridesmaids to wear very tight traditional Chinese dresses in red and golden colors and look like the water lilies. This will show the quality and the beauty of oriental women and bring out the bride's self-confidence. Thirdly, based on a traditional Chinese culture perspective, I could not imagine a woman in her sixties, being with a senior title of law professor, to be a bridesmaid because it is not respectful. Fourthly, if all my friends must be the bridesmaids, I could make many girl friends feel neglected.
Eliminating the second reason, I explained the other reasons why I did not ask her to be a bridesmaid.。
She started to understand, “Since the Chinese custom is that the bridesmaid must be single, I do not have opinions on this matter”. But she still had a question about it, “You told me that your sister is married.”
I went on to explain, “My sister will come a long way from China to attend my ceremony. Even if I do not have any bridesmaids, she should still be in my wedding with me, don’t you think so?”
对方这才心无芥蒂地与我交流起来：按照美国的习俗，结婚的人也能做伴娘，只是叫法不同。单身的叫Bridesmaids,结婚的叫Matron of honor。还有一个名词叫Maid of honor。
Finally she understood completely, “ In accordance with the customs in the United States, married people can also be bridesmaids. They just use different names. There is a maid of honor for single woman and matron of honor for married woman.”
I agreed with her but my mind was tired of this topic.
当我把这事儿当做笑谈与一位伴娘提起的时候，对方的反应却令我始料不及：是不一样！比如你请我做你的Maid of honor，而让你妹妹做Bridesmaids，我就不知道你为什么选中我！
When I talked about this matter with one of my bridesmaids and thought that she would totally agree with me. She was surprised that I asked her to be my maid of honor instead of my sister.
“What is the difference? Both of you are my bridesmaids.” I disagreed.
当然不同。Maid of honor不仅要带领所有的Bridesmaids为新娘张罗告别单身活动，还要站在新娘的身边，并且代表所有的Bridesmaids在婚礼上讲话。所以新娘总是要选择一位与她关系最近的人做Maid of honor。
“Of course it is not the same!” She said. She told me the maid of honor is the most important bridesmaid, the most honorable position.
My god, I told my sister to give a talk during the wedding, but I didn’t put her in the right position. I should have had my sister to be the maid of honor. By the way, since she was already married, she would be called the matron of honor. I could hurt another friend’s feelings about this issue. Fortunately my friend understood how I made the mistake and switched the title with my sister.
After these two mistakes I realized that I needed my fiancé to help me to plan the wedding otherwise I would have a wedding that is neither Eastern nor Western style but just a series of culture confusions instead of a wedding that had a fusion of cultures.
对此补充一下：中国人将所有品种的Bread都叫做面包。可是美国人的bread却有许多名词与Bread词汇根本没有关联。如Bagel、Bun,、Muffin、Sourdough、Croissant……。为了沟通，我们只好自创词汇将“面包”一词分成：备够、办、麻烦、洒我斗、超柔。就像maid of honor 和bridesmaid 都是“伴娘” 一个词汇一样。
For example, in China there is a single word for “bread”. In the United States there are many names for bread: bagels, bun, muffin, sour dough, and croissants. To me all of these words mean bread like maid of honor means bridesmaid.