Thursday, 19 November 2009

Red and Gold

We've been in Asia for 4 and a half years now, and our friends were rather surprised that we hadn't been to a wedding yet. We've had a couple of invitations but DH has always been away. A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to our first Asian wedding this Saturday, of one of DH's colleagues. It will be a Chinese wedding, in Johor Bahru on the southernmost tip of Peninsula Malaysia, and just over the bridge from Singapore. Obviously some research was in order.

I discovered that black, white and dark blue are not worn at weddings, but my green dress is acceptable. Auspicious colours are red, yellow and gold. For a wedding gift, guests are expected to give money enough to pay for their meal and a bit more. The gift is given in a large red envelope or packet known as hong bao. This wedding will be held at 1pm at a restaurant, which will be a first for me. I mean, I'm used to going to a church or civil ceremony followed by the wedding breakfast at a restaurant, but having the whole ceremony held there will be very interesting. It will end at 4pm. No party, no evening reception. A long way to go for 3 hours, but that will be just about right for us two non-socialites.

Last week DH brought some more news back from work. We had another wedding invitation for a few days before the Chinese wedding. This was Malaysian - well I presumed it was, since the invitation was all in Malay, which kind of didn't help with my research. We didn't go to that one, already having something else on.

Imagine my surprise then, when I got a third invitation, for 7:30pm on the same Saturday! This one is an Indian wedding in Chinatown in Singapore. Yes, I know that sounds completely culturally mixed up, but this temple is famous. I've walked past it a hundred times and I've always wanted to know what it's like inside. The happy couple are the recipients of the scrap-book which I've been working on with the bride's mother since May. I heard so much about the arrangements but it never occurred to me that I may be invited.
Both couples are already married. Here the custom is to have a civil ceremony with just close family, in which they hire the dress, the photographer, the car and the flowers as a package. They travel around being photographed all over the island, or in my scrap-booker friend's daughter's case, New York. Then they have their own ceremony several days or weeks later with the rest of the family and their friends - another dress or two and more flowers.

The Indian wedding preparations are extensive, lavish and even more ceremonial than the wedding itself. Sheila has her bangle ceremony tonight I believe, during which she will be adorned by the family women with coloured glass and metal bangles all with special meanings like blessings, fertility and warding off evil. She will then not be allowed to do any housework until her wedding day, in case she breaks them which would be bad luck. She will have an odd number of bangles in total; an even number on one arm and an odd number on the other, because the Indian belief is that odd numbers are auspicious.

It's going to be a busy day. You can be sure that my camera will be on charge with spare battery and SD card to hand. Right now I'm waiting for the rain to stop so I can go out and get the hong bao and the crisp new notes from the bank. Meanwhile I can show you the cards I've made for both couples, because I know I won't have another chance to post for a few days.

Card blanks: gold from Lavender Crafts, red from Paperchase
Indian paper in gold and cream from Hobbycraft
ribbon from Daiso
Bo Bunny heart paper
Bella chipboard letters
gold embossing powder from stash
QuicKutz nested circles used with Cuttlebug to make the rings

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