The Wedding Roadshow:
Mummy and Daddy considered ourselves married after our Vegas wedding because it was before God, at The Little White Chapel. We didn’t think He would mind we did it in Vegas with Elvis. Your grandparents however did mind - they wanted their Wedding Fix.
Mummy maintains it was a good idea to let each set of grandparents do their own thing in Seremban and Penang, Malaysia. They were so busy your parents were left completely in peace. We brokered zero compromises, just paid any bills they needed and showed up with smiles on our faces.
Grandmum consulted a temple about auspicious dates. Then she spent 3 weeks picking the right silk flowers for her wedding invites.
Poh–poh auditioned for flower boys and girls among her friends’ grandchildren. (Yes, really.)
Mummy writes how one of the dinners went wrong as an illustration of the first hiccup in our marriage – and what we learnt.
The Scary Wedding Dinner:
Murphy’s Law of Wedding Dinners states something always goes wrong.
Mummy says more so if you make the mistake she did, in giving Kong-kong 3 large cases of cigars for his party. Before dinner had started, a thick cloud of cigar smoke already hung under the ceiling of the restaurant. Guests naturally decided cigars should be accompanied by alcohol. Of course they did.
What Mummy was cool about:
Before the first course was served, many guests were no longer sober. By the third course, one of Kong-kong’s friends, a small, wizened man pushing 70 who downed 3 full glasses of spirits with your father “as a toast”, had to be carried out.
Two push-fights erupted during dinner. Daddy was involved in one. He marched up to a long-lost uncle and demanded to know why he had thrown Daddy’s school bag in the river behind his house when Daddy was about 7.
After guests separated them, your father and granduncle locked themselves in the restaurant toilet “because men discuss matters in the men’s room”. When Poh-poh tried to get him out, your father patiently explain women were not allowed in the men’s room before gently closing the door in her face.
Halfway thru dinner our cameramen were physically no longer able take pictures. Mummy would be surprised if no one lost any camera stuff that night. Your parents only have pictures of the earlier part of dinner.
Drunken guests picked food off other tables' plates, cramming it into their mouths with their fingers. One guest who couldn't quite get the entire handful in bit off the rest and returned it to the serving plate he had taken it from.
Daddy’s drinking party fled back to the hotel early with wives and girlfriends, some of whom were rather displeased.
Your parents never discovered who drove the bridal car back and left the keys with the hotel concierge.
As the night wound down, aunties and uncles staggered into the remaining cars shrieking with laughter, driving very slowly but uncertainly along the village roads. Some had their car doors still hanging open.
Soon most guests had left, aside from a few incoherent ones on the floor (when Mummy told Kong-kong later, he said yes, some of his friends mentioned waking up in the wee hours of the morning and slowly staggering home. Their wallets were probably emptied but they couldn’t remember what they had brought with them anyway.)
Why Mummy was cool:
Daddy has never liked alcohol. He drinks only to be social. Your father can take in about ¾ of a bottle of Jack Daniels (not a small amount of alcohol) before he does a nutty. That night he was very nutty. He must have tried very hard to be social. Also, his two (then) best men drank very little before leaving to sending their other halves home when trouble broke out. In fact, one declared he would drink nothing, when the dinner started because his wife had flown in at the last minute the night before.
When Daddy used to come home drunk from work events, Mummy would leave a bucket by the bed.
If she was out with him, she would confiscate his car keys and request cab fare and company until she was in a taxi (then Daddy was free to return to the party).
This is because Mummy believes there is a difference between being easy-going and being a doormat.
Mummy also requested a text message from his friends/ colleagues if they left him somewhere, so she knew under which table to look for him. It just saves time.
Mummy likes alcohol. She keeps a bottle of Shiraz out of your reach. But she has a two drink limit because she read somewhere that’s the healthy limit for a woman’s kidney. (She would also smoke too, if she could be convinced it didn’t cause cancer.)
What Mummy was not cool about:
Mummy found herself stranded outside the locked-up restaurant past midnight.
Earlier, she watched several men wrestle your father across the parking lot and into a car that sped off before she could move. It took awhile to realize the car had come back for Daddy and there was no one she knew left at the dinner.
Mummy had no cell phone or money – her bag, she later learned, had already found its way back to the hotel.
A few loiterers trickled in from the night into the restaurant car park. One hooted at Mummy but she pretended not hear.
She started to feel fear, real fear. Some places in Malaysia are not the safest for a lone young woman in a strapless white cocktail dress late at night.
Then a rented car turned in slowly, its driver cautiously surveying the mess. One of your father’s college friends who had flown in from Hong Kong wanting to witness a Real Malaysian Village Wedding (then beat a quick retreat with fiance in tow) had decided to swing back and make sure everything was alright.
Mummy still remembers his expression as she ran across the parking lot in her white dress and flung herself into the car. He said very little. His girlfriend, already in PJs, avoided Mummy’s eye. In fact, at breakfast the next morning, other non-hungover guests were also avoiding Mummy’s eye.
Mummy flew back to Hong Kong alone to start our new life there with virtually no friends – or furniture - as originally planned. Daddy flew straight to Singapore for grueling back-to-back client meetings.
For the next 6 weeks, your father would return home bone-tired only on weekends – and ask to not be spoken to because he badly needed to decompress with brainless tv to prepare for the next work week.
This would color virtually every argument your parents had in the next 18 months.
Of your parents, Mummy is usually the less emotional one. So she was completely unprepared for the hurt she felt at being forgotten that night. For a long time she couldn’t get over feeling unwelcome in Daddy’s family.
1. Never underestimate how different things can look when viewed thru another person’s eyes.
Daddy had very little memory of what happened. And he was whisked away by his family without seeing Mummy stranded – or feeling her fear.
It took Mummy a long time to understand this. And realize your father simply lacked the imagination.
Perception is everything. How you view something can literally save you a lot of hurt.
Daddy learned that in order to accept something was important to Mummy, he didn’t need to understand why it was. Sometimes we do things we don’t understand simply because they’re important to the other person. We should be a team.
2. Never underestimate how much pride can skew things
Mummy is not a wedding person. She wore a USD 78 brocade bustier from Victoriassecret.com and SGD 200 plain tailored satin circle skirt as her wedding dress because she thought keeping an ornate white dress pristine for years to come was impractical. (She splurged on stuff she would get a lot more use out of – any daughters she has will get her Chloe bracelet bag one day.)
Mummy wanted everyone to think she was much loved by the family she had married into. Instead they uh, didn't.
When other wives and girlfriends who attended felt sorry for her, she decided to do the same.
Ask yourself if your bruised ego is doing the talking. Maybe even nurse it for a bit.
Then tell it to shut. up.
3. Do a Dale Carnegie on your other half
“Thank you” and “I’m sorry” have Super Powers of Diffusing Bad Conversations.
Daddy identified that Mummy reacts quite differently based on how he speaks to her – so he chooses his words carefully when he wants something.
Why are we on our best behavior for virtual strangers? We may never see them again after they exit the elevator/ leave the company. People who agree to spend the rest of their lives with you should get the best of you. Otherwise your own life could be hell.
4. Get your game on for your relationship
Daddy is good with clients. So he manages Mummy the same way. Find your strengths and use it on your relationship.
Besides. There are benefits to having someone madly in love with you. Your life will not feel like hell.
5. Don’t allow your bride to feel she is not the bride. No matter how laid back she thinks she is.
6. Never underestimate the old fogeys’ ability to party. And don’t hand them cigars til the end of the evening. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
Your Kong-kong’s friends swapped stories delightedly for weeks. It’s still the Mother of All Wedding Dinners in Kampung Baru Rasah.
Mummy is surprised they can remember anything.
We have been blessed with incredible memories – yet spared what could have been a terrible ending – for that we are grateful.