Scott Meyers

Results of the Effective C++, Second Edition, Giveaway Contest

By Scott Meyers


On September 19, 1997, I posted an announcement about the publication of my latest book, Effective C++, Second Edition, to the newsgroups comp.std.c++, comp.lang.c++, and comp.lang.c++.moderated. In that announcement (click here to read it) I offered a free autographed copy of the book to people who sent mail from my web site by September 30 asking for one. How would I select these people from the many I expected to submit a request? I put it this way in my posting:

I'll send autographed books to whomever I feel like -- based purely on the whim of the moment.

In the end, there were about 200 entries, and whim struck 20 times, a figure greatly influenced by the number of books I was able to wrangle out of Addison Wesley for this purpose :-)

I got entries from all over the world. Here's the breakdown by nationality, which I guessed at by looking at signatures and top-level domains:

USA 64
Unknown 50 (Probably USA -- mostly .com and .net addresses)
Canada 16
Australia 13
Germany 11
United Kingdom 7
Sweden 4
Belgium 4
Finland 4
The Netherlands 3
France 3
Norway 3
New Zealand 3
Russia 2
Poland 1
Singapore 1
Denmark 1
Israel 1
Ireland 1
Romania 1
China 1
Taiwan 1
Malaysia 1

I learned an important lesson from this experience. I learned that I never want to do this kind of thing again. Getting the mail was fun, and reading it was even more fun, but dividing the mail into "winners" and "losers" was no fun at all. Ultimately, I had to decide to not send books to lots of people who I would really have liked to. Every contest has a blurb saying that selecting winners is difficult, and, probably like you, I've discounted such disclaimers in the past. No more. I've been there. Trust me on this: selection is brutal.

Many of the messages had questions or comments that invited a response. If I'd taken the time to reply in detail to all the mail I received for this contest, I wouldn't have accomplished anything else these last two weeks. I apologize if you were disappointed or offended when you got only a form-letter acknowledgement of your entry. If you have something you'd like to share with me, I encourage you to write again. My email address is

A few people groused about the requirement that mail had to be sent from my web site. That was purely a marketing ploy. I wanted to publicize my web site a bit, and Addison-Wesley wanted to know how many people responded to the postings. (If, like me, you're a spamhater, relax. AW gets no more information than is in this document. In particular, nobody except me knows the email addresses that submitted entries, and nobody else will. I'm certainly not going to put anybody on a mailing list. The last thing I need is to rouse the ire of some of the most accomplished programmers in the world.) Those people who sent a message explaining why they couldn't mail from my web site were automatically entered as if they had.

The Winning Entries

What follows are excerpts from the 20 winning entries, along with brief comments on why I chose them.

Ben Scherrey wrote:

  I have three dogs of my own (and more on the way in October since my
  female is pregnant). However, since they are Jack-Russell Terriers,
  combined they do not weigh as much as Persephone. However, they do chase
  tennis balls and jump in ponds as tenaciously [sp?] as any animals I've
  yet to see.... 

This was the first of several messages to exploit my weakness for dogs in general and for Persephone in particular. I originally planned to make all such entries winners, but too many people tried this approach. As a result, only Ben got in via the "Scott's a sucker for dogs" route.

Jody Goldberg sidestepped that problem like this:

  Our 8 week old puppy had just dozed off when I read your posting
  offering autographed copies of you new book.  Your hope that the book
  request make you smile gave me an idea. 
	Is there anything more fun than a puppy ??
  We just picked her up yesterday and at this point she is just about the
  cutest fur ball in existence.  With the information in your book I
  could finish my work faster and spend more time with her during these
  next few formative months.  An extra game of bat the milk carton makes
  her much happier.  So on behalf of 'Tigger' (as in the character in
  Winnie the Pooh) I'd like to request a copy.  I'll even forward a
  picture if you'd like ... 

Yes, I'm also a sucker for puppies. But I didn't let anybody else take advantage of my fondness for animals. Not even the Swede with the web-surfing pig or the guy at Lawrence Livermore with the debugging Moluccan cockatoo. I had to draw the line somewhere, and I drew it just after canines. (By the way, the new book cover features a howling wolf puppy.)

Marco Gasperina wrote:

  It's not for me, Scott, it's for my son...
  He thinks you're great!  In fact, just the other night
  while we were eating dinner he said, "Daddy, when
  I grow up can I be like Scott Meyers?"
  "You mean you want to be a C++ expert and revered
  computer consultant helping thousands of desperate
  programmers deal with the complexities of software
  "No, I just like his hair."

This is funnier if you've seen my hair in person. Marco has. So have I.

Ehud Lamm tried the "persistence pays off" approach:

  Aside from being a generally nice person, I have some more good reasons, 
  why I qualify.
   1. Since I live in ISRAEL you can post the book to me in class C[++] mail...
   2. You will spread your name far and wide - right into the middle east.
   3. I always say efficiency doesn't matter - only good design does. Maybe 
      you will make me eat my hat... 
   4. I already said, I *am* a nice guy.
   5. This message is not spam!!! It is also written by a human being not a 
      robot. This should be unusual these days :-)
   6. I did read your home page (this was the idea behind the offer wasn't it?)
   7. I will not buy the book otherwise (the threat tactic is always worth 
      a shot)
   8. Did I mention I am a *nice* guy?
   9. A *guy*?
  10. I am including my address (I guess all the others forgot to do this, 
      so now you must send the book to me!!!!)
        Ehud Lamm
  11. The book will probably arrive in ISRAEL, when D+=2 is the language of 
  12. And it will cost 5 times as much as where it is published.
  13. I will just summerize it all, to make it easy for you to decide
      *I am a nice guy!!*

It worked. What can I say? He just seems like a really nice guy.

The following six people got books for the same reason: they're selfless members of the C++ community.

Esa Pulkkinen wrote:

  I've collected a set of C++ programming techniques at Some of them are obvious, but
  most are obscure - some even useful - thought you might want to take a

David Tribble wrote:

  I think I deserve a copy of the book because I am a regular
  contributor to comp.std.c++ (as well as comp.std.c).  (Hopefully
  you didn't find the contributions too pedantic or outrageous.)
  I have also made a few proposals to the C++ committee (and to the
  C committee, too).

Valentin Bonnard wrote:

  I often read and post in comp.std.c++ and comp.lang.c++.moderated.

Allen Clarke wrote:

  I run a mailing list for a daily C++ tip (I think you might have
  subscribed briefly) that has about 1000 subscribers. I spend so much
  time rummaging through newsgroups, magazines, and books, that I try to
  pass on any little tidbits I stumble across. I think that programmers
  get stuck in ruts and tend to learn just enough to get the job done (and
  no more). The tips are just an attempt to get them to think about
  something small and new every day. 

Boris Fomitchev wrote:

  I've put significant efforts in porting SGI STL across different
  platforms and pushing its use (see

Finally, one person who wishes to remain anonymous, but who I know is a very active participant in the Usenix C++ newsgroups, asked for a copy of the book.

All these people got books on the basis of their C++ community service. It's hard work maintaining useful web pages and/or posting useful information to newsgroups on a regular basis. We all benefit from the efforts of such people, so I wanted to reward them for their work. There are many other worthy community activists, I know, but they didn't write and ask for a book :-)

Craig Anderson submitted this:

  I ordered Effective C++ before the first edition came out. Took a chance
  on you and risked my hard-earned $$$ that your book would be worth it. 

Faith like that deserves to be rewarded.

Speaking of faith, I got this from Stephen Gilardi:

  I was one of the folks who actually had "Effective C++ Plus" by Scott
  Meyers on order at Barnes and Noble even though no such beast ever
  actually existed.

In 1994, when I first started talking to Addison-Wesley about writing More Effective C++, there was no working title for the book. Unbeknownst to me, AW made one up: "Effective C++ Plus", surely one of the worst titles imaginable. Having made up the title, they then proceeded to assign a production date to it, and they then publicized this information to bookstores, who promptly entered it into computer systems across the country -- maybe across the world. I knew none of this until months later when somebody sent mail asking why "Effective C++ Plus" wasn't available in January 1995 as they'd been told.


Surely I have to send a book to somebody who ordered a book I neither wrote nor ever planned to write. I mean, that's faith.

Tom Kreitzberg wrote:

  I can think of two reasons why you should send me a copy
  of your "Effective C++, Second Edition."
  First, I am going to be the principal programmer on a
  project the success of which could, without putting too 
  fine a point on it, spell the difference between our 
  survival as a nation -- nay, as a civilization -- and our 
  utter destruction. Casual mention to credulous program 
  managers of half-remembered ideas gleaned from a library 
  copy of "Effective C++" played a not insignificant role in 
  my getting this job, by the way, so as I see it we're in 
  this together.
  Second, my wife recently gave birth to our second son,
  and while we've already named him Samuel, I am prepared
  to urge my wife that we change his name to Scott. No
  promises, you understand, but I'll do what I can.

Ha ha ha, you say, as did I, but check out Yow!

Ken Nicolson sent this:

  Following your post to comp.lang.c++.moderated, I'd like an
  autographed copy, please! Why should I get it? Well, many of my
  colleagues have books by lesser mortals like PJ Plaguer, Barney
  Stagestruck, Andrew Kookie, Tom Cargos, James Compliant, etc, so I
  need to boost my geek rating by getting a signed freebie from the
  infinitely easier to spell Scott Meters, and his wonderful publisher,
  Please excuse any errors, but I've double-checked everything with my
  spell-checker just to be on the safe side.

Too few people worry about spelling these days. It's important to reward those who do. Besides, "Scott Meters" and "Additional-Welshmen" cracked me up.

Gary Powell wrote:

  I would like a copy of your revised book for the following reason.
  Since this is a revised edition, I would expect that it will contain
  more pages. Your first edition is a bit thin, why I mention this is that
  I am using it prop up my desk, along with a copy of Stroupstrup's D&E,
  and a copy of Stroustrup "C++ Programming Language." 1st Ed. I tried
  using a copy of "More Effective C++" and its just a bit too thick.
  Likewise with Stroupstrup's 2nd Ed.  The 3rd Ed. is right out. I would
  guesstimate that a revised Edition of your first book should be just the
  right height. Your book would be in good company, and I would never fail
  to point out to my colleagues how your books are supporting the C++
  programming community.

Okay, the pun is awful, but I've been guilty of at least as bad, and I even put it in print: check out page 157 of the new book. No, no, I don't have the page number memorized. I looked it up in the index. Under "pun, really bad." Of course.

Also, for years I've been telling people that a good use for my books is propping up tables with uneven legs. My wife, on the other hand, has for years been warning people not to read my books if they're going to soon be operating heavy machinery. Whose advice is better? You decide.

Matt Slattery got me with this:

  I am the Manager of Systems Programming at a successful educational
  software company, and have made your first edition required reading for
  all the programmers! I even condensed the rules, published them in an
  HTML document, and linked to that document from our "Coding Guidelines"
  document, so that all the programmers have ready access to your work.
  After doing that, we spent roughly ten hours in meetings going over the
  rules one at a time and discussing them in detail, So, now, when I ask
  any of the programmers what the most important concept in object
  oriented design is, each of them will reply, without hesitation, "1066."

It's sort of an inside joke. If you don't get it, grab a copy of Effective C++ (either edition) and find the reference to "1066". Naturally, the index will point you to it.

Kelly Davis sent this, which I loved:

  If you give me a copy of your book I will not publish my book... 
  "Even Badder C++:
   50 Specific ways to
   Imperil Your Programs
   and Designs"
   Kelly Jay Davis
  As you will see from the following selections, my book
  if published, will most certainly squeeze yours out of
  the market. So, it is in your best interest to provide
  me with a copy.
  For instance, here is a selection from my first item...
  Item 1: Don't use const and inline instead use #define
  This item should be titled "prefer the preprocessor to
  the compiler." The reason one should prefer the prepro-
  cessor over the compiler in all situations is that the
  preprocessor can lead to some amusing errors. For in-
  stance, consider the following...
  #defineMax(a,b) ((a) > (b) ? (a) : (b))
  This little number has so many advantages, it's liber-
  ating just to think about them. It can be used as fol-
  int	 a = 1;
  int	 b = 0;
  Max(a++, b);
  Max(a++, b+10);
  in the first use of Max() a is incremented twice. Just
  think of the speed increase this will afford for mod-
  ern day computers, a two fold increase in  speed. In
  the second use of Max() a is incremented once. This no-
  vel control structure allows one to  generate  random
  numbers much better than any library calls. Just put
  in a value for a and a second for b and the resulting
  value is... well, random.
  Another example follows...
  Item 10: If you write new you don't need delete
  This item should be titled "memory is cheap these days
  so don't bother with delete." Normally,  most  program-
  mer spend an inordinate amount of  time  tracking down
  memory leaks. This is a waste of time. With memory  at
  an all time low price all one needs to do is give your
  program a large partition, say 10Gig, and let-her rip.
  You never need to worry about writing delete again. Af-
  ter all,by the time the 10Gig is used up the user will
  be done whatever it was they were up to anyway.So,take
  a tip from me and never use delete, just new...

  As you can see from these selections, you are in  deep
  do-do if I decide to publish. So,as a preemptive strike
  in this battle for the C++ book marketplace I  suggest
  you send me a copy of "Effective C++" or I will be for-
  ced to unleash the badness of...
  "Even Badder C++:
   50 Specific ways to
   Imperil Your Programs
   and Designs"
   Kelly Jay Davis
  upon the marketplace. This will most certainly dry up
  your profits.

Well, we can't have that, now, can we?

Ian Knowles' reason for wanting a book was novel:

  Because I need something better to do than create new versions of
  "Hello, World!"
  such as the following...

I've always been impressed with these kinds of "prose in shapes" things. I can't do them at all. Besides, the code works. I tested it.

Alan Finger got me with this:

  Remember Brown?  Remember College Hill Bookstore?  Kabob 'n' Curry?  The
  Avon?  Cable Car?  Carolyn Duby?  Are you wistful yet?  Can you cast
  wistful to whimsical? 

Indeed I can. These are all things from my eight years at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Carolyn Duby and I collaborated on several research papers (check my publications to see which ones), and she was a major participant in my research into lint-like programs for C++.

I admit it, I got nostalgic, and Alan gets a book out of it.

Finally, Billy Harris put so much work into his anthropological report, I couldn't bear to turn him down. How much work, you ask? See for yourself:

      The Strangest Wedding I Ever Attended
  The wedding had two parts -- the first part was full of symbolism and
  high emotion and took place at the bride's house and groom's house.
  Close friends and immediate family attended.  In the evening, lots of
  friends and relatives met at a restaurant for a formal ceremony and a
  banquet and party. 
  The wedding was very different from western weddings, and no one
  explained it to me -- I wandered around seeing event after even, always
  asking "Why did they do that?", "What does this mean?", and "What's with
  the oranges, anyway?".  The answers were always the same: "It's a
  tradition.". Luckily, later in this story, I will meet an anthropologist
  who will give his opinion on the symbols involved. 
  Actually, Song (the groom) claimed the wedding would be a combination of
  Eastern and Western styles.  As near as I can tell, the wedding was
  Western in exactly three ways: Song and Vicky (the bride) wore Western
  wedding gear for parts of the ceremony, a ring was involved (that's
  singular), and Song participated in a bachelor party.  Unfortunately, my
  plane arrived at night and there wasn't enough time for Vicky to drive
  me to the party (anyone who has trouble visualizing me asking a bride
  "So, are there going to be nude women at the bachelor party?  Great! Can
  you give me a ride?" doesn't know me very well). Due to a last-minute
  change of housing arrangements, I spent the night at Song's house
  instead of Amy's house. 
  Song's house was absolutely huge.  The downstairs had a study, a den, a
  bathroom, a dining room, a kitchen, and a family room. The basement was
  huge and unfinished; Song said that after the house had settled for a
  few years, he would add 2-3 rooms in the basement.  Upstairs were
  Vicky's room (where I spent the night), a bathroom, two guest bedrooms
  (one with Song's parents; one held a pretty married woman whose name I
  forgot), and Song's room, with a large bathroom with a whirlpool. This
  was a modern house, meaning the rooms had vaulted and cathedral ceilings
  and skylights as appropriate.  I was so impressed that I forgot to ask
  to see the attic (anyone who has trouble visualizing me asking to see
  someone else's attic doesn't know me very well). 
  As part of "the tradition", red chinese letters were pasted everywhere.
  The red is for good luck, the characters themselves best translate to
  "Happy Wedding", and the characters are shaped into a circle, which
  symbolized wholeness or completion. 	
  The next day, around 11:00, the first part of the wedding ceremony
  began.  I had last worn my suit three years ago, and apparently, I had
  washed the suit pants in an ordinary washer and dryer. They were far too
  short.  After some discussion, Song decided I could attend wearing
  shorts and a T-shirt (anyone who has trouble visualizing me wearing
  shorts to a friend's wedding doesn't know me very well). Song's mother
  gave me a new shirt for the occasion. 
  The ceremony starts with "Picking up the Bride," in which we (the
  groom's party) travel to Vicky's house.  Ancient Chinese traditions
  thousands of years old say that no more than two people per automobile
  can travel in this procession. Since we had eight people, we needed four
  cars (two of them rented).  When we got to the bride's house, Song
  knocked on the door. The bridesmaids answered and promptly closed the
  door in his face.  After repeated knockings and being told to go away,
  the maids finally started grilling Song -- "So you know Vicky, eh?  What
  day did you first meet? What hospital was she born in?" Later questions
  included "You think you're so smart -- what's the capital of Norway?
  What President is on the 50-dollar bill?"
  Much later, the maids joked about how miserably Song had answered the
  questions, but for the purposes of decorum, they announced that he was
  good enough and could come in.  The groom gave the promised bribes
  (candy and flowers) to the bridesmaids and we entered.  Inside, we had
  some food, including a traditional soup with duck egg.  The egg was
  supposed to symbolize fertility and wholeness, but for some reason, we
  were supposed to break the egg. 
  At this point, the bride and her parents came downstairs.  I still can't
  fathom why, but the bride is supposed to be unhappy about leaving her
  parents ("stoic" is the proper emotion).  My reaction was that I had
  left home a long time ago and no one cried then, but people claimed
  "It's because the culture is different." Much later, the anthropologist
  I met offered an off-the-cuff idea: ages ago, the Chinese had arranged
  marriages. The bride had never met the groom and was genuinely unhappy.
  Over the years, brides started marrying people they knew and started to
  enjoy the wedding, but the idea of the bride being unhappy over leaving
  home stuck. 
  At this point, the ceremony disturbed my religious ideas.  Vicky's
  parents sat down, and Vicky and Song kneeled before them.  Some guy
  behind Vicky and Song intoned "Sh'o TUNG!" or something similar, and the
  two bowed, heads to the floor. "Sh'o TUNG!" -- another bow.  "Sh'o
  TUNG!" -- a third bow.  Song then asked Vicky's parents for permission
  to marry.  Vicky's father launched into a monologue which was in Chinese
  and no one translated it. It was apparently somber; Vicky's mother began
  to cry.  At the end of his speech, Vicky's mother, openly weeping, gave
  her own emotional and apparently impromptu speech and hugged a now
  crying Vicky.  At the end of the all this, Vicky's parents gave their
  permission for the marriage. This marked the end of a milestone in the
  wedding, so people applauded.  At this point, most of us headed back to
  the groom's house -- bride, groom, best men, bridesmaids and me.
  Significantly, Vicky's parents stayed behind and did not attend the rest
  of the ceremony (they were at the second part with the party). 
  Another part of the tradition, Kelly (a Christian missionary who
  probably didn't know what he was getting into when he agreed to help)
  held an umbrella over the bride both during the trip from the bride's
  house to the car and from the car to the groom's house.  In ancient
  times, people believed the happiness of the bride would attract
  mischievous demons wanting to curse her. The umbrella protected her
  from the gremlins.  More recently, the umbrella became a symbol of
  protection and shelter and represented the start of a new life and
  construction of a new house. 
  When the procession arrived at the groom's house, both bride and groom
  touched an orange on their way in. Kelly suggested this was a fertility
  ritual, but the anthropologist said that the Chinese word for that style
  of orange rhymed with the Chinese word for good luck. 
  Inside the groom's house, two things happened but I forgot the order.
  For one of the events, Vicky and Song kneeled before the parents of the
  groom (no bowing this time) and asked their permission to marry.  Song's
  father gave a speech (which no one translated) and they approved the
  wedding. For the other event, Song and Vicky left the group and went
  alone into one of the upstairs bedrooms.  No, they didn't do what you're
  thinking of.  Instead, they talked about the past and the future.  I
  don't know how many hours it would take me to cover these topics, but
  they had fifteen minutes.  These two events ended the main part of the
  wedding; everyone applauded again.  Between this time and the "official"
  ceremony was something sometimes called a reception, sometimes called
  free-time and sometimes called waiting.  Instead of finding out which of
  these things it was, I hitched a ride with a group headed to a hotel
  room; on the way, I bought some new suit pants. 
  Was this ceremony typical of Chinese weddings?  Apparently not. The most
  common reactions I got from people who know about these things were
  variations of "They left out so many steps." Song said they covered
  about 30-40% of a traditional wedding.  Naturally, I wanted to know what
  was left out.  The next day, I asked Vicky about it. At first she
  pretended not to understand my question (always a mistake with me) and
  then she slowly said that this was her first wedding, and that she
  wasn't planning a second one so she didn't know much about it.  Song's
  mother said I should show Vicky the ceremony when I got married, and I
  promptly changed the subject.  Song did mention one part they left out
  -- typically, the groom gives 10 or 12 gifts to the bride.  Later, the
  bride gives 10 or 12 gifts to the groom.  The gifts are quite expensive;
  for a modern wedding, they should total around $10,000 to $20,000. 
  The wedding invitations claimed that the wedding ceremony would occur at
  6:00 at the Phoenix Chinese restaurant.  We (Shung-Yee, her boyfriend,
  and I) arrived from our hotel right at 6:00 and were the first guests to
  arrive.  Apparently, it is expected for the guests to be late for the
  supper. Around 7:00, we moved toward our seats.  The party started with
  a formal ceremony. The stuff earlier seemed meaningful and at least
  partly spontaneous. This event seemed formal, ritualistic, and less
  The announcer spoke in Chinese, with some English translations.  A
  typical translation was "Now the Witness will step forward," but this
  doesn't capture the strength, the assertiveness, or the imperial tone of
  the Chinese word.  Perhaps a better translation would be "Witness, step
  forward NOW!".  In America, we tend to think of a witness as being
  someone who happens to be in the area when something interesting
  happens.  Perhaps a wedding speaking will refer to the audience as
  "witnesses".  In the Chinese wedding, the Witness is a specific person
  who has a specific place in the ceremony (I might be better able to
  describe that place if I spoke Chinese).  After the Witness came forth,
  the Matchmaker stepped forward.  Then the parents of the bride, then the
  parents of the groom, then the groom (and best man) and then the bride
  (with the favored bride's maid).  After everyone was in place, the
  Witness read the marriage certificate.  No, this isn't the license you
  get in city hall (actually, Vicky and Song hadn't gotten one yet). It
  was a Chinese document that was prepared shortly before the ceremony.
  After this, the Witness gave a speech, then the Matchmaker gave a
  speech, then the bride's father gave a speech, then the groom's father
  gave a speech.  Only one of these speeches were translated-- the
  Matchmaker was the Christian missionary mentioned earlier. He gave a
  speech in English, and the announcer translated it into Chinese. 
  The announcer, by the way, was an American.  By sheer good luck, he sat
  next to me after he was done announcing, and by even more luck, he was
  an anthropologist who studied Taiwanese folk religions.  If any part of
  the first ceremony is vague, it is because I tried to badger him with
  questions only 90% of the time. 
  After this, Song gave Vicky a ring. Since the announcement was in a
  different intonation, I assume that this portion was not part of the
  traditional wedding.  After that, they kissed and on their way down the
  aisle, we sprayed them with sprayable ribbon and popped small
  firecrackers (I call them "poppers"; they are shaped like small wine
  bottles). Vicky changed into a Chinese outfit and the main part of the
  feast began. 
  Two things should be mentioned up front.  First, it is trandtional to
  serve alcohol at Chinese weddings (more precisely, it is traditional to
  get absolutely stone dead drunk at Chinese weddings).  Every table had
  at least one jar of Taiwanese beer and some cognac.  The restaurant,
  which is paid by the bottle, made sure that everyone interested in
  drinking never ran dry. 
  Second, throughout the party, people would start tapping their
  chopsticks against the sides of their glasses.  The bride and the groom
  would stand up, possibly walk to the center of the room, and kiss.
  After the second kiss, someone yelled "French style! French style!", so
  the bride and the groom started french-kissing anytime people tapped the
  glass with their chopsticks. 
  I already mentioned that it is traditional to get drunk at Chinese
  weddings.  Especially, it is traditional to get the groom drunk -
  ideally, so drunk that he is unable to perform during the wedding night.
  To facilitate this, the groom's party goes from table to table drinking.
  At each table, one or more people toast the groom, who out of politeness
  matches the toast.  I actually participated in this -- just before
  Song's party reached my table, someone asked me if I could drive Song
  home (I rarely drink and don't get drunk).  I agreed, the person
  rejoined Song's party which came to our table.  Someone else, in a voice
  a little too loud to be believed said we should have mercy on poor Song
  because he would have to drive home.  I immediately called out that it
  was okay because I would drive Song home.  After a brief back-and-forth,
  we toasted Song (who was already too tipsy to safely drive). 
  After the drinking, they had Song stand on a chair (two people helped
  hold him up). They tied an apron around his waist and brought out a
  small hot-dog with two grapes beside it.  The weiner was tied to a stick
  which the host dangled in front of Song (I'm sure you can guess where).
  They blindfolded Vicky and she had to eat the weiner.  Of course, as she
  got near it, they moved the stick out of the way. 
  Later (these events happened between courses), they had Song stand on
  the chair, blindfolded Vicky again and brought out an egg.  The egg
  started inside one of Song's pants leg. Vicky's job was to bring the egg
  up, over, and down the other leg.  She succeeded and held up the egg.
  The host said "And now the important question: Did she touch the
  critical part?" The audience yelled back "No!", so Vicky had to try
  again.  This time, what happened was so obvious that the host didn't
  need to ask the audience. 
  For another event, Vicky sat on the chair and they blindfolded Song.
  They brought out a necklace/ string with two cherries on it which Vicky
  wore (I'm sure you can guess where the cherries ended up).  Song's job,
  of course, is to eat the cherries. 
  The final task was difficult enough that even the host said he didn't
  know if they could do it.  He brought out an orange which had a small
  corner peeled out. This also went up the groom's pants and while it is
  "inside the central area", they had to peel the orange while it was
  inside the pants.  Song ended up helping (to a little bit of booing from
  the audience), and sure enough they brought out a peeled orange. 
  This ended the trials; we had more food and music, and I don't know how
  it happened, but I ended up in front of everyone trying to dance the
  Macarena (no, I wasn't drunk. High on life, maybe). Eventually, the
  party wound down.  Sometime, I should mention that instead of giving
  wedding presents, people attending Chinese weddings bring money in red
  envelopes.  I interpreted Vicky's instructions literally and bought a
  wedding card from Barnes and Noble with a red envelope, but actually,
  there is a specific style of envelope (complete with one of the "happy
  wedding" symbols) that people who know what they're doing get).  On
  their way out, each of the guests gets a kiss (on the cheek) from the
  I mentioned that Song was tipsy -- he was drunk enough that sometimes he
  walked in the direction he was facing and sometimes he sort of stumbled
  backwards.  However, he was coherent enough that I could tell him "Song,
  some people are too drunk to drive home. You're too drunk to walk home."
  Song's father, however, was much worse off.  He needed help standing up,
  and two people helped him limp downstairs.  Vicky's father was even
  worse off -- "passed out" would be a fair description.  Vicky's mother
  and her brother coaxed him into vomiting and he eventually improved well
  enough to at least temporarily stand on his own feet. 
  I've been told that it's a Japanese tradition that after you get
  absolutely stone dead drunk you can look your boss in the eye and tell
  him you hate his guts.  Instead, Vicky's father talked about his last
  visit to my apartment.  I remember four main things about that visit.  I
  lost an argument about whether or not it was appropriate for my house
  guests to cook for me; I won an argument about whether or not it was
  appropriate for my house guests to pay for the food they cooked for me;
  Vicky and I were late to lunch; and Vicky's family said "It was nice
  meeting Diane, but where was Dr.  Cook?" Apparently, Vicky's father's
  drinking had affected his memory. He (through the anthropologist
  interpreter) said that I was more hospitable than any Chinese person had
  been to him, and that he greatly appreciated my hospitality.  He added
  "Even though you are an American, in my heart you are more Chinese than
  the Chinese." A cynic might mumble about left-handed compliments, but I
  was flattered. 
  Was this second part of the ceremony typical?  For getting drunk,
  aowbsolutely yes.  People told me that the other parts of the wedding
  (with the egg, orange, cherry, etc) were significantly wilder than
  So ended the strangest wedding I have ever attended.