Monday, 16 February 2009

Chinese Wedding Extravaganza!

The whole reason for my mini break from Thailand to Singapore was for the wedding of Ee Poh and Xueyan on Valentines Day. I love attending weddings in different countries and cultures as there are always nuances and differences to the traditional UK format that I am used to.

The church service was at midday and was a Christian ceremony held at the Thompson Road Baptist church. As I had been warned the night before the congregation turned up both very casually dressed (a number of people were in jeans, t-shirts and flip flops) and were fashionably late. Being 15 mins early and in a shirt and tie definitely put me in the minority! The Bride knowing the form arrived 30 mins late. If I was getting married I'm not sure my nerves would have been able to stand the wait!

The service was more or less what you would expect from a lively Christian wedding back in the UK. There was singing, prayers, a sermon, the exchanging of rings and the signing of the register. The wedding was bilingual with everything translated into both Mandarin and English. There were less Bible readings than you would expect back home and the Bride and Groom made a short speech at the end of the ceremony.

After the service there was a buffet lunch in the room underneath the church, followed by a break until the evening reception..........

The evening reception was held in the swish surroundings of the Ball Room at the Four Seasons Hotel. Upon arrival you had to sign in, find out where you were seating and hand over your red envelope if you were giving the Bride and Groom a gift. I caused a little consternation by buying the happy couple a Thai Valentines card that also happened to have a red envelope. It was bigger than the standard red envelope and wouldn't fit into the box.

The reception was focused around an eight course banquet. There were 300 guests at the reception, which was more than were at the church, reflecting the higher importance of the banquet in Chinese weddings. Again people were fashionably late. Shirts were more prevalent, but ties were still in the minority.

The evening was compared by one of Ee Poh's groomsmen. Again everything was announced in both Mandarin and English. The groomsman was of Indian decent and spoke Mandarin which caused greast amusement. I think more for his broken accent than what he was actually saying.

A slick video montage of the bride and groom getting ready and of the church service, was played before the couple made their big entrance into the Ball Room. It was then onto the main event of eating! The most unusual course was shark fin soup, a luxurious (and I think looked down upon by some in the West due to animal welfare issues) dish usually served at weddings.

There were two dress changes, a photo with every table and a second big entrance by the happy couple into the Ball Room. As soon as desert was finished people started leaving for home. The main focus of a British Wedding Breakfast, the speeches, were much less important.

A great day and a wonderful experience.

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