One of the most pleasant times during my recent visit to Beijing was spending a few hours with my new daughter-in-law, Yan Zhang, at the shop of Meng Yali, Wedding Planner and Flower Decorator. Tea was sipped, time passed slowly, transactions were carried out in a more languidly relaxed manner than they would have during a similar meeting stateside.
Although the entire conversation was in Mandarin, and I understood hardly a word, I understood almost everything. The negotiations concerned table decorations, wine cups, flower choices for the chupah or wedding canopy (this was a Chinese-Jewish wedding—more about that later), rose petals to throw, and bouquets. Yan needed two bouquets, one with white and peach-colored flowers for her long white dress for the ceremony; another with brighter colors to carry with the short red silk cocktail dress with multicolored embroidered cummerbund she would wear at the reception.
Happy compromises were reached, and all details were worked out, including the floral border—white roses, lilies, and freesia—on the sign that would greet the guests with a blow-up of the invitation I’d designed.
All seemed settled until the next day when we arrived at the venue, the outdoor space in front of the restaurant in Fantia Hutong, Dongcheng District, for the rehearsal. It was bleak; the lush green lawn Yan had expected was parched and bare.
Ms. Yali did an exemplary job. When guests arrived for the ceremony late Saturday afternoon, the space was transformed. A white carpet formed the aisle, lined with urns of bamboo punctuated with white lilies placed like doves in flight, leading to the rose- and freesia-covered arch of the chupah.
And, as every nervous bride (or mother of the bride or groom) knows, all’s well that ends well.
Wedding Planner and Flower Decorator
Chunxiu Road, Dongcheng District