A wedding is a must-attend to graduate in the understanding of a culture. A batch-mate at work took the plunge last night, giving me my first sneak peak into a Chinese-Singaporean wedding.
The title’s a misnomer. It’s a Singaporean tradition in which the groom must earn the right to his bride. The groom, accompanied by his brothers (the western equivalent of the best man), shows up early in the morning at the bride’s house. They are greeted by the bridesmaids and tasked to pass tests on life’s essential skills (culinary, physical, endurance etc). Before the tasks started, all the brothers were made to sign indemnity forms! In this particular wedding, the tasks were considered rather mild, and included doing push-ups, decorating a cake, dancing & eating dumplings of 4 kinds – sweet, sour, spicy (stuffed with chilli) & bitter (boiled with panadol!) After completing all the tasks, the groom is given the key to his bride’s room where she waits in her bridal gown – rescuing the girl, Bollywood style 🙂
The gate crashing is followed by a tea ceremony at the groom’s house, where the bride & the groom kneel down and serve tea to the groom’s parents, as a symbol of respect.
I was part of this, primarily dinner, at the ballroom at a hotel. Lack of much literature online of what to wear, what to gift, what to expect, prompted me to compose this post! A simple party dress sufficed – the range of dressing varied from very evening wear to rather casual wear. In my little research, I had read that black & white were considered inappropriate to be worn at a Chinese wedding, because black signifies death / bad fortune while white is the distinct color of the bride. However, black was a prominent color at the wedding and the tradition is mostly limited to the much older generation.
Much to my surprise, the reception area had a registration booth for guests to tick against their names & see their pre-determined table numbers! There was a box to drop the red packets – the ang-paos – the standard practice is to give cash the equivalent of your seat at the ballroom (or gift vouchers of the same amount). The sit down dinner was interspersed with videos of the bride & the groom growing up as individuals & as a couple, along with one on the gate crashing before.
I feel so much more in the know of Chinese culture!
[I still keep my view on marriages being societal rather than necessary, but more on that later.]
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
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