The Chinese internet is currently abuzz with all sorts of reports and rumours of what went on at Yao Ming’s wedding at Shanghai’s Shangri-La Hotel on Monday. Earlier in the day, we called up our friend Sebastien Lathuile, who is floral meister at the hotel, thinking we could get some inside scoop or even pictures of the event. Unfortunately, all he could tell us was that he was not personally involved in the event and he knew absolutely nothing about the wedding. Apparently the management of the entire event had been farmed out to a local Shanghai company, and everything was kept under a very tight lid (with a generous budget dedicated to security), so there was nothing more that he could tell us.
As early as Sunday though, reports started to appear on the Internet, revealing what was on the menu of the lavish 12-course dinner purported to cost RMB12,399 (USD1,642) per table. The opening dish of the dinner, according to those reports, was “Braised bamboo fungus and fish maw in sharks fin” (红烧竹笙鱼肚烩鱼翅).
Readers may remember how the 7-foot-6 NBA star made headlines in China and around the world this time last year when he announced at a press conference in Beijing that he would never eat sharks fin soup ever again with the following words:
I pledge to stop eating sharks fin soup and will not do so under any circumstances. For the sake of our future, please join us in protecting endangered wildlife.
Naturally, news that Yao Ming was treating his guests to sharks fin spread like wildfire on the Chinese internet, and netizens and journalists started asking how Yao could remain a spokesperson in the anti-sharks fin campaign if he chose to have sharks fin at his wedding. From the Sichuan Gourmet Web(四川饮食网):
Naturally, it is not a major problem to have sharks fin on the table, and as long as Yao Ming does not touch that particular dish with his chopsticks, he could be said to have kept his promise. In this way, there is no major clash between cultural traditions and individual beliefs.
A Yao Ming spokesperson by the name of Zhang Chi (张弛) spent a few minutes with the 100-over Chinese and foreign papparazzi gathered at the Shangri-La and gave the following tidbits, as captured in the attached video:
Thank you all for your interest in Yao Ming and Ye Li’s wedding. On behalf of the two of them, I’d like to express our thanks and gratitude to all our media friends that have come from near and far. We have prepared some matrimonial sweets for everyone that you can collect later. There is also a set of press information that you can collect.
There are over 70 guests today. Apart from some colleagues from Yao’s team, all other guests are relatives of the bride and groom. Yao Ming will acknowledge other important people individually. [The spokesperson also made it clear that none of the Yao and Ye’s former team mates were present at the wedding.]
The spokesperson also dismissed rumours that the couple would go an a Huangpu river cruise after the wedding, saying, “Yao will only accompany his relatives tonight. After the wedding there will be no other activities.”
[And with regards to the sharks fin rumours] On behalf of the wedded couple, I’d like to thank you all for the stories that have appeared on the internet and in print, but I’d like to point out that there were some untruths in those stories, for instance, that there was a dish by the name of “Braised bamboo fungus and fish maw in sharks fin” on the menu. As we all know, Yao Ming is the frontman of the “Protecting sharks begins with me” campaign and he has promised at the WildAid event that he would not eat sharks fin at any time or under any circumstance. Hence, there was no sharks fin at the wedding tonight.
Somehow, we doubt this is the last we’ll hear of this, so stay tuned!
Shanghaiist: Newsflash – Yao Ming to do lots of exercises while getting married
Sports.163.com: 每桌喜宴只花费12399元 姚明婚礼菜单大曝光
CBS News: Bloggers Cheer Yao Ming Shark Attack
Sichuan Gourmet Portal: 姚明婚宴请吃鱼翅，如何做榜样？
NetEase: 姚明答谢记者 婚宴来宾无队友只有亲属
Zhejiang Online: 姚明低调婚礼 婚礼开支安保占大头