Friday, December 1, 2006

Banquet details

The detail that everyone seemed to love was the escort cards that we made out of leaves. Other than the gathering, pressing, shellacking, and storing of the leaves, I have very little knowledge of how the leaves became escort cards. At one point Dear bought a bunch of clear labels (since he refused to handwrite each one) and printed out names and table numbers on them. He also gave a bunch to my mother who could not provide us with a clear guest list so she had to handwrite hers. Lots of people commented on how creative we were, though one party pooper had to add that they were brittle (eh, screw him!). Some people seemed to like the idea so much that they pinned a leaf to themselves, as if it were a boutonniere. If I had fresh autumn leaves, I would have petitioned for adding one to Dear's boutonniere.

My MIL is a stained glass nut -- she goes every week to her class and her house is filled with all sorts of stained glass pieces. So it was only natural that I ask her to make us something featuring a double happiness character. At first I thought it'd be nice to have her make a caketopper but then she shot that idea down saying it'd be too heavy (I think a cake should be able to hold it up without collapsing) and saying that she was concerned about lead poisoning since the soldering is done with lead (though I said we could easly put a piece of cardboard underneath it to prevent that). So I said we'd just place the double happiness somewhere on the cake table then, akin to the large "I Do" letters that many brides use. After asking me a million questions and asking me to print her several sizes on paper, she set to work and bought the glass. Her choice of glass was not ideal, it turns out, since it was really a mirror (or something she explained that I don't understand) and she was not able to cut it into a circle. Instead, she'd have to keep it as a rectangle and she wouldn't be able to solder the edges so she also bought a frame to put it in. I wasn't crazy about the gold, but that's what happens when you give someone free reign. I think it turned out OK.
Behind the scenes, after-the-fact, "Pop-Up Video"-esque tidbit: I later learned MIL told the photographer that she made it and she urged him to take pictures of it.

In the last days, I just couldn't do anymore and Dear stepped up to do the table/menu cards, from design to printing. Of course, what I wanted was a lot more complicated so the simple idea Dear came up with was a lifesaver (not that I helped with that). On one side he included the guest names and on the other, the menu, along with explanations for each course.
I don't have the final wording of the menu, but it was something like this (this is our first draft):
There are 9 main courses to a Chinese banquet menu as the number connotes "everlasting." Everything is served whole to symbolize completeness. There is a delicate balance not just in the flavors, but also in the cooking method, where boiling balances frying, braising/steaming, cold/hot, savory/sweet.

Cold appetizer platter: Roast pig, ham, beef, jellyfish and pickled vegetables
Pig symbolizes purity -- J__ delivered a whole roast pig to R___'s parents to make the engagement official in the Chinese tradition.

Jumbo battered shrimp with candied walnuts

Shark fin soup with chicken
A very expensive delicacy, shark fin symbolizes prosperity.

Braised abalone with mushrooms and Chinese vegetables

Sirloin Steak with broccoli

Crispy whole fried chicken
The chicken symbolizes the phoenix (mythological bird), the representation of the wife.

Lobster, stir-fried with ginger and scallions
The lobster symbolizes the dragon, which represents the husband.

Steamed whole fish
Fish is a must at every important meal, as it sounds like the word "abundance" in Chinese.

Fried rice and E-fu noodles with mushrooms
Noodles, especially the e-fu noodles, are served to symbolize longevity.

Red bean soup with lotus seeds
Red is a lucky color and lotus seeds symbolize fertility.


Kate said...


I love your blog. Thank you so much for all of this information. Congratulations on your wedding. I am actually considering my wedding banquet at Grand Harmony and I wanted to know the price. Your menu is exactly what I wanted. Do you mind telling me how much they charged per table and how many people it seats (per table). Also, I would appreciate it if you can give me some guidance. What did the restaurant charge you for besides the dinner menu?

Thanks for your help in advance!

Wishing you eternal happiness and prosperity. Congrats again on your wedding!

just r said...

Hi Kate,
Thanks, and congrats on your upcoming wedding! I believe each table was about $700 and each table had 10 seats. They didn't charge us for anything else, but you are expected to tip them generously a few days before and also bring bottles of liquor as "bribes." I don't remember how much tip my husband brought over, but he just gave them 2 or 3 bottles of cognac (one for the chef, one for the guy running the show, and I think the last one for the rest of the staff to share).

We opted to get our own bartender and set up our own bar, otherwise that would have been additional cost.