Weddings In Singapore
When you receive a wedding invite, do you…
A) Hope to be picked as a bridesmaid?
B) Believe in love again?
C) Feel your stomach churn a little and find the words “wah sian” leave your mouth under your breath?
If you find yourself feeling sian rather than cheerful over your friend’s wedding, you probably aren’t alone.
So, how can we make weddings great again?
My first wedding invitation
For my first Singaporean hotel wedding, I put on a shirt and stuffed $88 into a red packet, because 8 is a lucky number.
Looking back, I underpaid, but I refuse to feel embarrassed because they live in a much nicer house than me now.
At the wedding, smoke filled the room and the couple emerged singing a duet, occasionally going off-key, but hey, it was their big night. More food, slideshows of childhood photos, speeches and yam sengs followed, before we called it a night.
The first few weddings I attended were in New York while I was studying there. People were in an upbeat mood, constantly clinking their glasses so the new couple would make out (a Western wedding tradition). Once dinner was over, a dance party would continue till late.
I’ve often thought about why weddings in America are much more fun. My conclusion: spontaneity.
Weddings are too uptight here
For our parents, weddings are grand occasions to present their children to distant family members. However, a few friends have confessed they would rather do without the banquet.
These conflicts of interest in the wedding planning show up on the big day, making everyone strung up that something might go wrong. How can the bride and groom enjoy their moment when they are both the stars and the planners of the show?
Meanwhile, the guests have to put off any expectations for heartfelt conversations, knowing the couple will be too exhausted. There is a lot of fuss but little interaction.
Weddings cost a lot of time and money
Money is transacted through red-packet giving, because wedding costs are exorbitant these days.
In the past, extended relatives and neighbours would share resources to survive poverty. These days, we draw a clear line between our bank accounts and personal lives, yet weddings are still structured around communal values.
I should give a $200 ang pao because I really want to, not out of obligation. It’s a big party nobody asks for but everybody feels like they need to attend for a cost.
If weddings are Christmas, I am the Grinch.
Limit your wedding attendance
Now a seasoned wedding invitee, I’ve decided to limit myself to 2 weddings a year. Why? Because attending weddings is tiring.
Previously, I felt it was insulting to decline a friend’s invite. However, after attending a few out of obligation, I’ve realised that you won’t be missed. The bride and groom will be too busy to notice your absence.
Declining a wedding is not rude, it’s humble. As much as I want to feel important in someone’s life, I realise I am probably just a face in the crowd. Especially so at their wedding banquet.
How We Can Make Weddings Great Again
Society has transformed immensely and the heart of the traditions have been forgotten. For example, in photos of my parents’ wedding, I see a roast pig being dissected. This is related to the virginity of the bride, something that is often irrelevant today.
Weddings have become more business than love so let’s cut out what doesn’t matter—your Vera Wang gown, Shangri-La ballroom, or your Instagrammable rose wall.
With our need to look perfect, weddings have turned into a social and financial burden, bad theatre for a tired audience. When really, it’s the marriage that matters.
Throw a simple banquet kampung-style at a restaurant for family and get your religious leader to bless you in the comfort of your home.
For friends like me, I’ll drop by with a bottle of wine to celebrate with you, when you don’t have a million other things to worry about.
Only then, can we get back to what matters without the stress and drama: a celebration of love, friendship and family.
This article was first published on 18 February 2019 and last updated on 18 October 2023.
Cover image: Source