Huang Ping and Farika Rusli spent their wedding night apart. The groom watched TV and spent time with his friends. The bride attended a concert in MU’s Jesse Auditorium and then went home to study.
Huang and Rusli walked down the aisle on Friday in a mock American wedding organized by the International Student Friendship and Chi Alpha Campus Ministries under a program called “Discover America.”
The fake ceremony took place on the MU campus at the AP Green Chapel and gave 60 international students and their families the chance to learn about American wedding traditions.
Upon arrival, students signed the guest book, picked up a program and drew roles from baskets. The role of the bride was given to 21-year-old Rusli of Indonesia because she fit into the fluffy, size-four, cream-colored gown with small beaded flowers across the chest. Rusli was not crazy about the gown and said her dream dress would be white and cut lower in the front.
The bride said she did not have cold feet even though she did not know the groom, 24-year-old Huang of China. Huang had a few doubts about walking down the aisle. He said he might have been happier with a smaller role.
Huang, who said the bride was beautiful, felt more comfortable the day after the wedding and admitted to being nervous. His girlfriend is also studying in the U.S. and Huang said they might have both an American and a traditional Chinese wedding.
“We’ll get together and have a nice party,” he said.
While the stars of the wedding changed into formal attire, guests were given a chance to ask questions about American weddings and courtship rituals. The most popular questions were, “whose family pays for the wedding?” “who buys the ring?” and “how are American weddings made official?”
They also asked what goes on at the bachelor party and if people are frequently left at the altar like in the movie “Runaway Bride.”
The discussion was cut off when Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” began playing from a CD player. The guests began video taping as Huang, followed by his best man and two groomsmen entered the chapel.
The flower girl, 8-year-old Zahra from Iran followed and threw pink and white flower petals on the aisle. Next down the aisle were the maid of honor and the bridesmaids. Finally, the Wedding March sounded, the guests excitedly stood up, and Rusli entered the chapel.
Rusli, who is studying dietetics at MU, said her groom was shy and really quiet.
“I talked to him a little bit, but he only gave me short answers,” she said.
She said she decided to attend because a real American wedding she went to in the summer left her confused.
“I didn’t really get what was going on,” she said. “Why are they doing this? Why is the bride coming with her father?”
Now, she said has a better understanding of who is who.
The service was conducted by Eric Thomure, an associate pastor with Chi Alpha Ministries. The couple lit the white unity candle to signify the joining of the two families. They said “I do” and ended the service replacing the kiss with high fives.
“I came because I want to know what an American wedding looks like,” said the best man, 32-year-old Wayne Gao of China. “I’ve only seen it on the movies and TV. Maybe in the future I’ll make more American friends, and I’ll go to a real wedding.”
The wedding was followed by a reception at Memorial Union complete with a reception line, wedding cake, punch, the throwing of the garter belt and bouquet and presents. The presents were raffled off to all who attended the event.
Rebekah Thomure, International Students Friendship pastor, said they organized the event because the wedding is at the heart of every culture.
“An American wedding is something few internationals get to experience while they are here,” Thomure said.
She said “Discover America” allows students to participate in American traditions that they might not normally have a chance to see.