You know the girls who grow up dreaming of their fairy tale weddings?
I am not one of them. I have never pictured the dress I would wear, the kind of flowers I wanted as centerpieces or the music or wedding venue. All I knew was that I wanted to marry Brian Littrell from the Backstreet Boys, but God sent me Andrew instead!
Being very practical, the thought of all that time, effort and money spent on planning that one day of your life just seemed so... indulgent. Plus Andrew and I had enough on our plate worrying about my fiance visa application and the logistics of my relocation. I would rather be preparing for my marriage, and I would have been just as happy signing papers at City Hall with Andrew.
But I realized the wedding wasn't just about Andrew and I. It was also about our families and friends who were eager to celebrate this once-in-a-life occasion with us. And the fact is that I am the oldest daughter and the first in the family to get married, so my Chinese guilt kicked in. Someone told me that I wouldn't want to look back ten years from now and wish that I had done something else, and she was right.
We decided to hold a small tea ceremony and lunch reception in Singapore and have our proper wedding ceremony in New York so that we could accommodate the people who mattered to us.
If you are Chinese, you will appreciate the fact that it is almost impossible to have a small wedding. My grandparents had more than ten children and each aunt and uncle has two to three children who in turn bore the same number of children- you do the Math! My initial estimate of fifty guests quickly doubled and even then we had to exclude a lot of extended family.
We tried to keep it as simple as possible. My girlfriend designed our wedding invites. Andrew wore his favourite navy suit and his fancy Edward Green shoes and I wore a cheongsam designed by Mimi of Mazzario and Badgley Mischka peep-toe heels. We booked My Humble House at the Esplanade and had both the tea ceremony and lunch there. Instead of flowers and favours, we donated the money to the Singapore Children's Cancer Foundation.
Two of my cousins directed the guests to their tables and my friends helped with the guestbook. Andrew's dad flew in and gave a lovely opening speech. While the guests were eating, we made our rounds to say hello and took group photos. Andrew and I gave thank you speeches and then we had a champagne toast. And then it was over.
The hardest part was that because Andrew was in New York, I pretty much had to run most of the wedding errands and make a lot of decisions alone. At one point I was so stressed out that my chest broke out in nasty hives. Andrew made me see a doctor who prescribed me steroid cream and whose only advice was to "try to take it easy" (hah!).
But you know what? I have never seen my parents smile like they did that day. And the look of happiness on my parents' faces in the photos made it all worthwhile.
P/S: If you want inspiration, visit my friend Zhing's blog Little Projects in Style. She used to be a wedding planner and spent an entire year planning her own.
P/P/S: Refinery 29 recently featured 21 City Hall weddings... I love that so many of the couples met online like we did!