I just came back from a weekend trip back home to attend the wedding banquet of two high school classmates in Kota Kinabalu. Maybe I should say, the wedding of one couple who were both my high school classmates.
This post will be about Chinese weddings in Malaysia. From first hand witnesses, I’ve found out that Chinese weddings differ in Malaysia, Indonesia and China, so I’m trying not to lump every Chinese wedding together.
Here’s the lowdown of what goes on in a modern Chinese wedding in Malaysia.
The wedding would take about a year of preparation (from what I’ve heard). Not only is there the wedding certificate signing thing to finish, there is also the morning traditional ceremony and the dinner banquet.
If the family has lots of ties (relations, family friends, colleagues, business partners etc), we can expect an elaborate wedding banquet comprising of three changes of evening gowns and a hall-full of tables.
On the big day
In the morning, the groom has to pick up the bride from her house. Dressed up in his western styled tux, he and his buddies would drive over to her parents’ place in nice car decorated with flowers and ribbons. This is probably the one time the guy’s allowed to ride in a car decorated with flowers and ribbons.
The bride and her posse of bridesmaids would be preparing for the arrival of the gentlemen. They would prepare “fun and games” for the guys as well.
Once the men arrive, the bridesmaids will do all they can to prevent the men from taking the bride away.
Some games involve drinking wicked concoctions made up of bitter gourd, chili and everything nasty; sitting on balloons; guessing the high school results of the bride etc.
After all that, the men are allowed to bring the bride to his place. (I think.) There’s also some rule that a boy born in the dragon year has to open the car door to bring luck. (My memory is fading here.)
The “traditional” ceremony starts with the newly weds kneeling in front of the eldest elders. Then the rest of the relatives of rank follows.
The young couple will need to present tea to the elders. The older folks will give advice on life and also jewelry (mostly gold necklace or things like that) to the bride. After all that tea drinking, it’s the lunch reception! Woot!
Of course all of this will be captured on (digital) film and video so the married couple can have a copy of it and watch it on repeat FOREVER!
I almost forgot! It’s tradition for the family (or their friends) to post a wedding announcement in the local papers. Here’s the happy couple’s ad on the day’s paper.
(Am I allowed to put this up? Please share in comments.)
Honey, dinner time!
(I was invited to the banquet so now it’s photo time!)
I like to tell people that Chinese weddings start late. When it says 6.30pm on the invite, you can be sure that it will start at 8pm. I’m not too sure about that nowadays though.
While you don’t have to invite everyone you know to your wedding banquet, the feast is sometimes a test to the couple’s parents. It’s like planning the birthday celebration for Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). You’ve invited the people you need to invite but oops… you’ve left out Mr Lee who’s a Very Important Client of the Father-in-Law (or Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty’s case)ev. Not good.
As guests, we need to give a red packet of money which unfortunately will not cover the expenses. After a bit of handshaking with the bride, groom, and the parents, we head to our table.
Anyway, at a Chinese wedding banquet, there’s food and music but most people will be eating.
Halfway through the 10-course, they will play a video of how the couples met and fell in love. A video of the morning antics and a slideshow of the lovely wedding photos the couples have taken.
As the night ends, everyone shakes hands with the couple again. And the couple are left to pay the bills and chitchat with the last of the guests.
AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER
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