Friday, January 7, 2011

Singaporian wedding

My secretary was getting married and she invited a big group of us to attend.
We were going for dinner on the 62th floor of one of singapore's tallest building.
The preparation to this event had been quite fun for us, western people non educated in the do and don't of the Chinese society. Luckily we have a few colleagues with more Asian background!
So here are the rules: do not wear red (colour of the bride), do not wear White (funeral colour), do not wear black (can't remember why...), not long dress for the ladies (only for the family, it's their day!), no suit with tie and jacket for the men (same as for the long dress, not to steal the show)
That's the dress code cover. Now presents! Chinese being Chinese, money is always good! But there are lots of believe in numbers so, no 4, a lot of 8, 6 is for a path, something like that... The money also need to be put in a red envelop. I was given one by a thoughtful colleague but I managed to forget it in the office so I thought I was going to use a plain White envelop when another colleague screamed in disgust, oups I had already forgotten it was the funeral colour! So I headed to a wedding shop I had spotted in Chinatown to buy a red envelop. I picked a nice one with some golden characters on it when a man next to me said: "good for you, you are preparing early for Chinese new year" slightly confused I looked at him and pointing towards my envelop, he told me that the beautiful golden characters meant happy new year! I thanked him for pointing that out and I asked for a bit of help in picking one with wedding, have a good life together or something appropriate!
Anyway, this White envelop problem created a lot of confusion especially for my British colleagues who love cards so deeply but every single one of their "best wishes" card was coming in a White envelop...
Then came the question of do we need to arrive on time, late early? Do they have a Chinese/singaporian version of the French 15 minutes fashionably late?
We all decided to go for the on time option and we were more or less the first ones! So we had time to share all our war stories about getting dressed, finding an envelop etc
For the first hour we were served orange juice and coke while watching the wedding pictures going around on big screens. We were all waiting for the bride who was getting changed into her 4th wedding dress (I think, I did loose track at some point). When we finally sat down at our tables, we were offered some 8 flowers tea, served from a pot with a very long beak. The menu had 9 courses and while we were eating pickles and drinking tea waiting for the first starter, drinks changed from soft to hard core, directly vodka and gin. Finally the food started being served and the wine and beer came with it. It was absolutely delicious: garoupa, scallops, prawns, duck mmmmmmh

Food was even adapted to religion, nationalities, all of that organised by table. Talk about planning!
The bride and the groom were going around the restaurant with their parents, from table to table, taking pictures with everyone.
There were a few collective cheers as well when we ended up wishing the couple to have triplets... The meaning might have been lost in translation...
But no dancing, no slideshow and no games!
To conclude, it was brilliant to discover local traditions, the bride looked fantastic in her many dresses, from Chinese red dress to White princess gown and it gave me a wonderful insight in Singaporean Chinese way of life!

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