The offbeat bride: Vanessa, Graduate Student (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Jason, Graduate Student

Date and location of wedding: Barcelona Suites, Albuquerque, NM — June 19, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was a mix of Chinese martial arts and northern New Mexico traditions. We are both martial artists that practice Tai Chi and Kung Fu, so our wedding involved those things that represented us as a couple. Our instructor, or “Sifu,” is a Buddhist chaplain and was our officiant.



We had a Martial Arts Honor Guard positioned to protect the event from enemy clans, and a traditional Chinese lion dance to frighten away evil spirits and bring luck to everyone in attendance. Guests were given red envelopes (called “Hung Bao”) in which they could place money or other gifts. The guests then fed the envelopes to the lions to bring good luck and fortune to all involved.


Immediately following this was a martial arts demonstration in our honor performed by Jason's students.


I designed our cake and Royal Icing brought it to life. The top layer had the calligraphy for double happiness and our Chinese names. The second layer contained the symbols of the Bagua, and the bottom layer had the symbols for the five elements. The two lions from the lion dance were replicated climbing the wedding cake. Jason also made the groom's cake himself.

After dinner, my father and I surprised everyone by performing “At Last” by Etta James. He played guitar, and I sang and dedicated the song to my new husband.


Instead of tossing the garter and bouquet, we did an anniversary dance to honor all those who were married before us. This dance eliminates couples until the longest married couple remains on the dance floor. The bouquet and garter are given to this couple. The last couple standing was Jason's grandparents who had been married for over 65 years!


In celebration, we danced La Marcha, a traditional Spanish wedding march in which all guests are encouraged to participate by simply following the leader.

My father played guitar as a friend sang “La Entrega” or “The Delivery.” We sat in two chairs as this traditional Spanish wedding serenade was offered up to us as a blessing. During this song, everyone there individually hugged and blessed us in their own unique ways.


Tell us about the ceremony: Sifu performed a beautiful Buddhist ceremony that included a tea ceremony. He began the ceremony by hitting his mallet against a bronze bowl and a clear metallic ring permeated the air. The purpose of the ring is to create a mindfulness of the moment and to get the attention of ancestor spirits that wish to attend.



First, the bride and groom served tea to both sets of parents and grandparents. The tea ceremony is used to share your deep gratitude with them for raising you and bringing you to that moment in your life. In return, they hand back a red envelope. The red envelope contains money or jewelry they wish to bestow upon the couple. The last tea ceremony is to serve tea to each other. Once the tea ceremony was over, Sifu lead us through the vows three times and we were to say, “I do” three times. Three is a considered an auspicious number. The ceremony was very heart-felt and special to us.


Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was convincing my parents to let us do our wedding our way. They wanted a traditional Spanish Catholic wedding in their hometown. My mother also wanted a more traditional wedding dress. We overcame these problems by talking it out as much as possible and trying our best to compromise. We got them involved by creating the wedding arch and the decorations. I think they felt much better when they had something they could do.


My favorite moment: As cliché as it sound, standing at the altar with my best friend in front of friends and family was my favorite moment. It also meant so much to us that our Sifu was our officiant. He is one of the most loving and generous people I know. For the last song of the night, we played “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Most of the wedding party got on the floor to sing along and perform it for all our guests. It was the best way I think that we could end the reception, with smiles of entertainment on everyone's faces.


My funniest moment: The funniest moment was actually during the ceremony. Sifu addressed Jason first, and as we had forgotten when we were to say “I do,” he accidentally jumped the gun and said it too early, much to the amusement of everyone. Sifu said that he must be excited and had to wait until he rings the bell (or bowl). The next time Jason waited for his cue and proudly proclaimed, “I do.”


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The main thing that I wanted for our wedding was an atmosphere of love and happiness. In truth, it's all about inviting the right people and keeping the peace.


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Comments on Vanessa & Jason’s Chinese martial arts New Mexican wedding

  1. All the gowns are stunning. I love the blue and white wedding gown. It’s drop dead gorgeous.

  2. I totally agree with Raz about your dresses, if I would have been at your wedding I would have said “stop that bride, I want to buy her entire wedding wardrobe”

    Seriously what a beautiful wedding, I love all the elements that you show here, especially the dragons.

    Have a wonderful married life.


  3. What a crazy combination! I would love to go to a wedding like this. Love the asian-styled dresses and I have a soft spot for the Chinese lion dance. Simply beautiful!

  4. OMG, I’m in LOVE with her dress! Seriously, that is absolutely gorgeous!!!! <3

    Also, the entertainment (lion dancers, martial artists, etc) is pretty awesome. Sounds like a fun wedding. =)

  5. I couldn’t agree more with the previous comments. Love, love, love the dresses. All of them. I love the symbolism and beauty and the martial arts and everything. You couldn’t have made this more beautiful if you tried.

  6. I love this wedding! My fiance and I both met in taekwondo, and it’s such a huge part of our lives together. I floated the idea of being married by our Grandmaster, but that was shot down since it is an out of state wedding.

    Your dresses are beautiful, especially the blue one. Were they custom made?

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