I know I’m Malaysian-Chinese, but if you asked me what a ‘traditional’ Chinese wedding is like, I wouldn’t be able to tell you in detail. After so many generations (most of the Chinese here are third or fourth gen), much of our rituals and culture have been lost – and are continuing to die off as younger people, such as myself, do away with customs for convenience. Weddings are definitely much more different now than they were, say, in my parents time.
That’s not to say we don’t have a few rituals we still follow though. So here are my observations from my cousin’s recent wedding ceremony back in Ipoh.
My aunt and uncle rented a homestay for all the extended family members. It was a whole bungalow unit with about 7-8 rooms. Since there were three of us, we got a spacious corner room. It was really hot though as there was only one air conditioning unit. Beds were quite comfy.
My cousin, the groom, was still picking up the bride at her home in Taiping, about an hour away from Ipoh. Usually, the brides maids will have loads of fun ragging the best men, since they are not allowed into the house until they perform specific tasks (usually silly things, like doing 100 pushups, etc) – but it’s all in good cheer.
Meanwhile, over at the homestay, a buffet lunch was served by the catering company..
Simple stuff like fried noodles and rice, but it was all quite delicious.
Curry chicken, stir fried mixed vegetables, shrimp in sweet and sour sauce.
‘money pouch’ dumplings, fried chicken wings, stuffed beancurd and fishballs.
The bride and groom arrived shortly after lunch, and then came the important part of the ceremony – serving tea to the elders. This was done by order: groom’s parents, bride’s parents, and relatives according to seniority. After pouring tea and presenting it to the elders, the latter gives their blessing by offering jewelry or red packets filled with money.
*In the olden days, cakes and biscuits were served together with the tea.
After a lot of picture taking, the bride and groom retired to their room, which had been decorated with some traditional wedding items such as red pillows. The rest of us slacked around until it was time for the wedding dinner later in the evening.
More food. Some of the common dishes are fish, chicken, pork and shrimp. Fish and shrimp are symbolic, since the pronunciation for fish is yu (prosperity) and shrimp is ha (sound for laughter) – indicating good fortune and happiness.
The toasting ceremony is where everyone stands up for three cheers while shouting ‘yum seng’ (drink to success in Cantonese). The toasts symbolize different things: first for a blissful marriage, second for eternal love, and the third for fertility.
Congratulations cousin Eric and his lovely wife Janice! May you have a blessed married life together 🙂