I’ve previously mentioned that if you wanna immerse yourself in a foreign country, you should attend their weddings. It’s easier said than done though as I doubt there’s a lot of couples willing to invite strangers (or those who they aren’t that close with) to their big day. Lucky for me, after 2 and a half years of staying here, I’ve finally attended a traditional Chinese wedding in Singapore. Yay! 🙂
There are two parts to the wedding, the first is a solemnization wherein much like a church wedding, they sign marriage documents, make vows and exchange rings. It’s usually done with a small crowd of close family and friends so yes, I don’t have photos of that part but! I’m sure it was filled with love and joy. Everyone else is invited to the wedding dinner, a grand feast held to honour the bride and groom. (Check out the 8-course menu below!) This was where me and my colleagues were invited to. 🙂 It was our boss’ son’s wedding and we were all there for full support. Below is a mini-photodiary of the occasion, be sure to scroll all the way down to read some of my learnings and observations on attending a traditional Chinese wedding dinner in Singapore.
Below are some of my learnings and observations on attending a traditional Chinese wedding dinner in Singapore, you might find it useful the next time you’re invited to one. 🙂
1) Chinese weddings are “Hong baos preferred” events. Western tradition normally calls for gifts from a registry or whatever you think will help the couple in their new life, but Chinese tradition is a bit different – you give red packets. I find this more practical because who wants two or three similar dining sets? When you get invited to a Chinese wedding in Singapore (and maybe most parts of the world), don’t stress about shopping! But also…
2) Don’t just anyhow give hong baos. There’s actually math behind it – you have to at least cover your cost. You divide the price per table to get the price of your “seat” and you adjust accordingly by giving more depending on your relationship with the couple or your “status”. Oh, it’s good omen for the amount to end in 8, but not the same can be said about 4 – which in mandarin, sounds like death.
3) Dress code is a little bit tricky. That night, I saw folks in suit and ties as well as berms and short sleeved polos. Carefully read your invitation and check with your host. If all else fails, I personally think it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
4) Speeches and well-wishes center around the future baby. Now that you’re married, almost everyone is clamouring for you to have kids. Especially the parents of the couple who are very much looking forward to grandkids. Yam seng to that!
5) There is no dancing.
This one quite surprised me coz after all courses, they bid the guests goodbye. It was literally a wedding dinner. Interesting to note how in Polish weddings
, everyone lines up to greet the couple at the beginning of the reception but in Singapore, the guests form a line as they exit with the couple and their parents by the door.
6) Red and white clash of luck
. Red is the color of prosperity and luck, a happy color in Chinese tradition, whereas white is reserved for mourning as in wakes and funerals. People in mourning are not to attend celebrations within 100 days of death. And those who are getting married will not attend wakes and “white events” 100 days before and after. The time frame can be longer and can extend to the families of the couple as well depending on how traditional they are. Other interesting traditions referring to the clash of luck can be found here
7) Last but not the least, weddings are ceremonies of love and union. Even though there may be cultural or religious differences in how we celebrate it, at its very core, it’s about two people wanting to spend the rest of their lives together. It will always be a beautiful event that’s best shared with people dear to us. Being invited to witness such occasion is always an honour.
A perk of this particular wedding is that my dad was also invited. I don’t get to see him a lot so it was nice to spend time with him. He was staying at Marina Bay Sands, so after the wedding dinner, we grabbed some drinks with colleagues before finally heading to Ku De Ta to marvel at the famous view.