Sunday, October 2, 2011

Confessions of a Wedding Guest: Singaporean vs Chinoy Banquets

I always found weddings as entertaining events. The elements are always the same -- wedding performers, friends who give testimonies about the bride and groom, and of course the main actors, the bride and groom themselves. The entire night is built around putting on a great show for the guests as they are wined and dined during the celebration. So when I was invited to my colleague's wedding banquet, I took it upon myself to observe the similarities and differences between a Chinoy wedding and a Singaporean one.

Chinoy weddings are typically officiated in churches and the subsequent banquet/ reception (used interchangeably in this entry) at a hotel. My sister and I used to pick which banquets we will be attending based on the venue because some hotels serve really sumptuous food. In Singapore, both the solemnizing and feasting are held at the hotel premises, with only a change in the ballroom. Similarly, not everyone is requested to attend the solemnization for both Chinoy and Singaporean weddings.

In terms of the feast itself, guests are treated to 10-13 courses of delectable Chinese cuisine!

While the guests enjoyed their dinner, a montage of photos started coming to life on screen showing the bride and the groom's wonder years and of their travels around the world together. This was followed by a video of the gatecrash and tea ceremony, which took part during the earlier part of the day. In Singaporean weddings, it is customary for the groom and his 'brothers' (usually the groom's close friends) to set off early in the morning for the bride's place to 'claim' her hand in marriage. I use the word 'claim' here because the bride and her 'sisters', or close friends, usually device tricks that serve as hurdles for the groom and his men. These consist of, but are not limited to, making them eat raw bitter gourd, drink mutations of juices with weird things floating inside, and even dressing them up just to make them look silly. These hurdles must be cleared before the 'sisters' let the groom into the bride's house where he then proceeds to the bride's locked chamber and reads out his promises to her for the rest of their married life together. Whether it be yearly Chanel bags or monthly shopping sprees, the guests could not stop laughing at this point, as the bride comes out of her chamber and both bride and groom set out for the tea ceremony, which is similar to a Chinoy tea ceremony.

Twice during the dinner, the guests were asked to toast the newlyweds, marked by loud and prolonged shouts of 'YAAAAM SENNNGG', a Chinese dialect term which loosely translates to the western 'Cheers!'. I was expecting some gaudy Chinese singing by hired performers or friends following the toasts, and was extremely relieved that this is not the case for Singaporean weddings. To this day, terribly horrible singing from Chinoy wedding performances still make me cringe with accompanying goosebumps all over my body.

The fun and tech-savvy couple also set-up self check-in booths that helped point their guests to their respective tables, which also served as a stalking device in case you wanted to find out if your friend has 'checked in' yet. All in all, the wedding was a sincere and intimate occasion, even for a wedding of about a hundred guests or so. I officially love attending weddings and I am already looking forward to guesting my next one.

Ta ta darlings,


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