We’ll be 30 when Gary and I hold our customary wedding next year.
Many people have mistaken our desire to have a grand wedding banquet and observe traditional wedding rituals as our parents’ requests.
Truth is, from young, my parents pretty much let me have my way with things. I’ve always been the deviant, wayward child who wriggled my way through their expectations.
On the other hand, I’m blessed with very understanding in-laws who have no qualms with keeping the wedding simple, with as little fuss for the couple as possible.
The typical response I get when I say that I’ll be having a banquet is that ‘Oh ya, the older generation would want that.’
It usually comes to the surprise of my friends, colleagues and even to my family, when I tell them, that this is really what we want.
I’m a Generation-Y with a penchant of all things oldschool. Well, maybe my love for history and literature has some part to play in this.
When I was in my teens, I wanted to be non-conformist and modern like every other youngster. But as I turned 25, I realised myself being more and more inclined to observing traditions. From the Chinese New Year, Qing Ming, Dumpling Festival, Mid Autumn Festival to the Winter Solstice, I found myself trying to learn more about what is associated with all these festivals and the symbolism hidden within.
And I began to wonder why.
My elders are ageing as quickly as I was growing up. In their fifties to seventies, my uncles and aunts are getting old and starting to have health problems. It makes me panic. Separation anxiety aside, it dawned on me that the end of that generation also meant the loss of the many treasures of Chinese culture. Many people don’t understand why I was so excited to learn how to clean a slimey pig’s stomach from my Mom-in-law. This is exactly why.
Maybe it’s globalisation. The advent of technology. Modernisation. Westernisation. The marginal loss of Chinese culture from the baby boomers, the gen-X to the gen-Y in the past century is astounding.
The end of eras always made me sad. The end of the Qing Dynasty, the Romanov empire… While they ended because they were no longer relevant to the new society, it doesn’t negate the fact that, a wonderful, colourful and almost mystical piece of history is forever gone.
But I love change. I’m not a rigid fella who lives in the past. I’m a Gemini through and through and I love to try new things. I’m the sort of person who’d peel off the wrapping from any new possession on the way back home, brimming with excitement. I have no problems fitting into a new environment.
But there is a part of me that is attracted to the old. There’s something romantic and almost lyrical about how things used to be done – the art and effort that goes into creating old furniture, the display of Chinese leeks and ‘nian gao’ at home during the Chinese New Year – all this care, meaning and thought.
It’s our party
My brother-in-law Dave reminded us that this is our party. And ultimately, our opinions matter most.
A party that’s been 4 years in the making since we had our wedding solemnisation in 2011.
Every couple is different, and most young couples want a fuss-free wedding or prefer to spend their savings on other things that mean more to them.
We thought hard and decided that having a traditional wedding means a lot of us. We are two old souls.
Every couple has their own priorities and preferences. Gary and I must be one of the rare gen-Y couples who want a traditional wedding with as much fuss as possible. Well, what can I say, it’s not a wedding without a good amount of fuss!
Once in a lifetime
Gary and I decided to focus on rituals that were exclusive to weddings. After all, it’s once in a lifetime.
So we will be doing the whole works – the ‘guo da li’ (exchange of betrothal gifts and ‘pin jing’), giving out wedding cakes, ‘sheung tao’ (hair combing to symbolise good luck, the gatecrashing, the tea ceremony, the bed rolling by a little boy, the display of longan, red dates, lily bubs on our bed, the lighting of the dragon and phoenix candles, etc.
I’m even getting a ‘qun kua’, a traditional Chinese wedding gown, for my ‘fan sam jiu’, when I return to my Mom’s home. The other version would be a cheongsam. But cheongsams can be worn every day (I wear it every Chinese New Year) while a girl can only wear a ‘qun kua’ during her wedding!
My Mom-in-law recently showed me the set of jewellery she has put together for the ‘si dian jing’ (Gary is Teochew). She told me that they were ‘gu kuan’ (old style) but, you know what, I loved them. I love how they were pieces that held so many memories. A pair of earrings Gary’s maternal grandmother bought my mother-in-law when she was just 10, a ring from Gary’s paternal grandfather, a huge gold pendant that has been around for over 20 years. Priceless. And they’ll look fantastic with my ‘qun kua’!
When my Mom and Dad were getting me a bangle to be gifted to me during the tea ceremony (they seem to be hooked on buying gold jewellery in the name of our wedding) I chose a traditional dragon and phoenix bangle. We initially thought of getting a diamond bracelet, but decided against it. Because there was no other time in my life that I’d get myself something ostentatious like it.
I’ll be decked in elaborate gold jewellery on my wedding day, but well, once in a lifetime, right?
I’ve come a long way. When I was 19, I proclaimed that I’d never get married because I didn’t believe in it. Now I’m a bride who wants to have a traditional wedding. I’ve grown up, haven’t I?
I can’t wait to go wedding shopping with my in-laws, pick out the wedding cakes, and get this whole thing started.