Can you imagine how a young couple on their wedding day in northern Johannesburg would react if a group of Asian tourists arrived at their wedding reception and kept getting in the way of the photographs???
A few weeks ago we took our overseas visitors for a meal at Shanghai Uncle – a fairly upmarket Shanghainese restaurant – near to the Bund. We had spent the afternoon wandering through the Yu Yuan Gardens and market area and then made our way through some of the older city streets to give our guests an exposure to some of the less glitzy side of Shanghai. It was a reasonably warm day and we weren’t exactly “fresh” in appearance when we arrived at the restaurant. We had planned an early dinner so that we could catch one of the night-time boat cruises on the Huangpu River that divides east (Pudong) from west (Puxi). We were dressed for exploring the city, had our backpacks with some warmer clothes for the evening, cameras, etc. No one really dresses for dinner here unless it is a formal event or ceremony.
Once before, when my sister was here, we came to this restaurant and arrived at the tail-end of a wedding. That time they seated us upstairs, out of the way and we could watch the final proceedings of the reception from our balcony view.
This time, we arrived early, even before the bride and groom, and there were only a smattering of guests. The staff assured us that we would not be in the way and ushered us into a private dining room. All fine, except that we had to walk between all the dinner tables in the main dining room, past the gift table and wedding cake, and through the canopy in front of the main table to get to the private dining area. We placed our order and then had to make use of the “facilities”. By this stage the bride and groom and a few more guests had arrived. The only way to get to the toilets was to wind one’s way back through all the tables and go through the foyer, right between the photographer and the bridal couple – who were having photographs taken with every guest that arrived.
Embarrassment! So sorry, so sorry, please excuse us, we muttered as we dodged the guests and gifts and the cameras and the videos. In the bathroom we met up with various guests and attendants, all dressed in their finery. Then we had to do it all again on the way back. Everyone else seemed to take it in their stride and seemed totally unfazed that this group of non-Chinese interlopers were getting in the way of the proceedings. So we waited for the least intrusive moment, slipping through just as a new guest headed for congratulating the lucky couple, feinted left and right to minimise camera and video appearances, and zig-zagged through the tables to our hideaway.
We had to share the private dining room with the “guests with children” and the “working” guests, e.g. wedding planner, MC and DJ! We managed to “sneak out” of the restaurant (in plain sight) before any of the speeches and games and the more “formal” aspects of the proceedings!