The Wedding Post Mortem – I’m Gonna Miss Being a Kid (Part 2)

23 07 2008

Welcome to Part 2, the sombre side of things. For those of you who just joined us, you might want to take a look at Part 1, though it isn’t entirely necessary.

The experience of a wedding is not for the faint-hearted. Fun as my wedding celebrations process was, the amount of planning in the areas of logistics, organisation, planning and finance is enough to make a grown man cry and his wife-to-be scream. Did it happen to us? Hoo yeah. But that’s where your friends come in. If you’re not the very social type and don’t have people around you that you can properly trust and that isn’t family, your wedding planning is gonna be a damn lonely affair. My wife and I are fortunate enough to have a small group of our own personal heroes that made the things we hoped could happen, happen.

That being said, I would encourage any couple who is legalising their union to please hold a wedding. Hold a big, expensive one, with a lot of stuff in it, all them bells ‘n’ whistles. Do it in a good restaurant with good food and responsible managers. And invite a minimum of 200 people. And get as many friends involved as possible. And think up the wackiest possible things to do to entertain your guests.

It might end up being fun, or it may not. But whichever way it goes, and no matter how many words I put into this blog to explain my experience and how it affects me, you just got to do it to yourself, because it’s going to be a fucking wake-up call.

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It was our wedding planning that redefined (or “undefined”) my thinking of what friendship means. Right up to this point, I thought the people I call friends, the people I don’t call friends, and the people I stopped calling friends, was pretty well-defined in my spectrum. Looking at what our friends had done for me to make this wedding happen made me see my social circle in an entirely different light. The friends we had with us that night were friends that give without a second thought. The friends my wife and I were that night were friends in need. And the ones I blamed for not being there for me the night the wedding planner attacked were more in need of friends than I was in need of them.

It is not easy to come to this point, where one stops laying blame and starts empathising. I can only say, now that I’ve seen a friend in need from my own experience, that laying blame is the stuff that breaks relationships, tears families apart, creates crimes, starts wars. So, don’t.

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The wedding dinner itself also proved an eye-opener for me. We had only wanted to provide some form of entertainment to an otherwise frivolous, somewhat inane event that involved two people that most of the event’s attendees didn’t even know. We wanted to do a show, to keep people involved as an audience, and to keep us involved as a couple, to our family, our family’s family, and everyone’s friends. What we didn’t anticipate was their response to us, and more importantly, their response to each other, when something as tiny as a skip during a march-in, or as simple as a rickshaw, could get people talking… to each other.

I personally know of relatives and relatives once, twice, three times a-removed, who have never spoken to us or each other for years and years (be it for loss of contact, grudges, family feuds or court cases), who, by some miracle, came together into one small little restaurant of 26 tables to witness the union of a couple, only to find themselves in a reunion of relationships. People who came to our wedding curious, expectant, trepid, bored even, ended up laughing, dancing, cheering, clapping, completely immersing themselves in the moment… all because our invitation card stated rather subtly, “Dress Code: 1930’s Shanghai Glamour”, and my wife’s sister decided on a whim to include a rickshaw she could rent from a props warehouse in the People’s Association.

Proof that making your wedding different can make a difference to people’s lives, even if it’s just for a little while.

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The biggest wake-up call of all, was the dinner bill. Not something I didn’t expect, but it really doesn’t hit you until your restaurant manager actually gives you that check with a smile.

In my entire life, I have never had to pay so much money upfront on a single event, until last Sunday. It hit me that the days of my youth, where my supply of spending money seemed constant and never-ending, where things I couldn’t pay for I could still bank on the next month, came to a head with this one celebration. Faced with a 5-digit bill to pay, no wallet (left it in my hotel room), and a bunch of people impatiently waiting for me to attend to their sabotage session involving that infamous “5-course wine, chillied peanuts and a raw egg in a cup”, my immediate thought was one my parents, all my sisters and my own wife had tried to tell me all my years of knowing them: “Don’t anyhow spend anymore.”

Many would think the angpow money would take care of most, if not all, of it. Some might even think they could profit from it, but it still doesn’t take away the fact that you just contributed a big fat fucking wad of money into the F&B industry. It doesn’t take away the fact that in a society such as Singapore, in an economy as inflated as we are today, in a nation where a car costs about twice as much to own because the government takes half of what you pay for it, as a middle-income earner in an island full of middle-income earners, you probably can’t afford the inital expenses of your own wedding and have to ask your family to help.

Thanks to my wedding, I am now as thrifty as an old lady in a one-room flat who keeps everything she can lay her hands on because “they all cost money”. More importantly, thanks to my wedding, “family” has taken top spot in my spending priorities; “gadgets” and “guitars” has been relegated to an obscure corner of Lim Chu Kang.

I am really gonna miss being a kid.





The Wedding Post Mortem – I’m Gonna Miss Being a Kid (Part 1)

23 07 2008

For those who were there, you know how awesome it was. For those who weren’t. you don’t know what you missed.

(This blog will eventually be updated with pictures of the day, so keep your eye on it.)

The morning was encouraging; we both dressed in our most Chinese nines, much to the awe and amazement of our respective relatives. The tea ceremony in both houses was an unusually happy event, but it was the night that brought the stars in everyone’s eyes.

People started streaming in as early as 6.45pm, an extremely uncharacteristic time for wedding guests to appear in a culturally confused Asia-based island where fashionably late means 2 hours later (Hock Peng, you got a mention! You’re famous on the Internet now!). Dressed in the same ma gua (complete with that big red ribbon rose hung on the chest area) and a $2 Sinatra-esque hat, I greeted the guests in one by one, then two by thre, then five by eight, then one too many. Our reception girls had a hard time keeping up, and our dads were no help either. I have personally never seen my dad such a nervous wreck (if you remembered, he should be quite the opposite, though with his health right now, it’s somewhat understandable).

And then came the grand entrance. I needed four of my best guys to keep everything safe as we turned the house upside down with me pulling my wife into the restaurant well into the entrance and right in front of our table of friends with a never-seen-the-streets-since-1830 rickshaw, beautifully wedding-fied by my wife’s second sister and her very-good-with-his-hands husband. Dancing to the tune of Shanghai Tan, we rounded the restaurant, through the bar, and finally landed up at the VIP table at the front of a restaurant, where we sat down to the first course of our feast to the music of the beautiful shanghai jazz band playing behind us.

Oh, perfection. Whoever said perfection was boring had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Eat those words, detractor; I hope they taste as good as the salted egg shrimp.

Our second march-in saw my wife in a beautiful light bronze evening gown which awed everyone so much they all had to step on it, and me with a tailcoat reminiscent of Sting’s beautiful Calvin Klein nuptial number sans jailbird inners, a white scarf and that same hat, keeping in tradition to the look of the decade. Marching in to the tune of Chachambo was more challenging than I thought, as I had to both guide my wife through the excited little patter of 100 pairs of high heel shoes whilst entertaining my brood of relatives with dance steps not conceived since the grand old days of William Hung. The 3 obligatory yam sengs were surprisingly lively, when my mum’s old neighbour whom we had not seen in years added to the spirit of the occasion by providing the longest toast possibly both sides of the family had ever heard.

The end was no less endearing, when bride and groom stood with our respective parents in the entrance bidding farewell to all our relatives, friends, uh-I-don’t-know-you-but-I’m-going-to-pretend-I-dos and other whozats (Thank you for coming! … whozat? Oh thank you! …whozat?). If I had any doubts that the night was going in an awkward direction, they were all erased with all the pats in the back and the “you win, nobody can beat that rickshaw” my wife and I received.

I ended the night with a wine glass filled with red wine mixed with remains of the last five courses and a raw egg, courtesy of the best friends a couple can ever have. And for the first time since we started wondering what vehicle we should use for our first march-in more than a year ago, a great big weight was lifted from my shoulders, and not a little relief washed over my wife’s very tired self (she braved a cough, running nose and possible fever found to be inconclusive due to a broken thermometer to make the night happen for the both of us).

If you’re wondering about where I lost my childhood in this, look out for Part 2, coming to a 1930’s themed Shanghai restaurant near you.








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