This was to be the 1. of several 2. 3. experiences. At a 4. ceremony in Guangxi province the bride, wearing 5. dress, arrived riding a donkey side-saddle, while behind her a second donkey carried a 6. chest filled with treasures for the groom’s family. They fed me noodles, symbolising 7. life, and welcomed me as a 8. friend.

A few years later while researching for Lonely Planet in Yunnan I stumbled onto the 9. ceremony of a 10. couple. The groom’s party had, according to tradition, gone off to the bride’s village to ‘kidnap’ the bride, but the couple were delayed by road conditions and by the time they arrived to commence the ceremony everyone was very 11. on rice liquor.

Dai wedding. Photo by Joshua Samuel Brown

By the time the groom arrived, bearing the bride on his back, only a 12. of guests still possessed the hand-eye coordination to throw buckets of water on them (as is tribal custom). The 13. ceremony involves downing of shots between chanting of vows, and soon both bride and groom were 14. and 15. wed.

Some time after the ceremony the groom’s father thanked me for coming and told me that my 16. arrival was auspicious for the same reasons as it had been back in Taiwan. He also said that because they were members of an 17. group, the new couple weren’t bound by the country’s 18. one-child policy and suggested that if I ever showed up at another wedding I should double the couple’s luck and bring a date.