16.12.01

[This entry is mostly about our friends' wedding on December 14. If you want to find out what else went on with me in the week preceding it, read the first part.]

We didn't have to be at the hotel till 3-4 pm, so we took our time lazing about in the morning. Terz had to pop back to the NCC camp for some badge presentation ceremony that would end the camp, but he was gone for barely an hour. We had lunch at the coffeeshop downstairs, then I packed up my dress and things, as well as a little gift hamper we'd made up for the couple (containing the oft-munched Pringle's sour cream and onion potato chips, the oft-chewed regular flavor of Fisherman's Friend mints, some celebratory Ferrero Rocher chocolates, a packet of balloons that could be blown up and twisted into animals, since they had done just that for decorating Terz's birthday venue, bubble bath mix and massage oil from The Body Shop, since the groom-to-be is renowned in our little circle for delivering fantastic massages, and the obligatory box of flavored condoms), and took off for my hair appointment. Okay, so a hair appointment was somewhat extravagant for these trying times, but I felt like it since these are two very good friends, and how often do your good friends marry each other, and besides, I was wearing my long red dress, and I never know what to do with my hair on a formal occasion anyway.

Funny thing, though: when I got to the York Hotel (where the hair salon is), there was no parking. There was, however, a hotel guest who seemed to be leaving his spot, except that his spot was in the first row of parking, which I thought might be reserved for valet parking or special guests. So I drove up to the security guard and asked him if I could take that particular spot. The guard simply nodded, then it turned out the guest wasn't leaving after all, but the guard went ahead and removed the no parking sign standing in an adjacent parking lot (also in the privileged front row), and let me park there.

Which left me in a bit of a sweat because I first had to go out of the hotel premises to The Body Shop to get the massage oil --- which made me look like a typical Singaporean who'd stash their car in a hotel carpark that happened to have free parking (the only free parking in this nook of town, I might add, unless you're a member of the American or Tanglin Clubs) --- which made me feel like I'd done the security guard an injustice.

So what did my overly conscientious self do? I parked, walked up to the guard and explained that I had to pop down to Orchard for a little while but I would be back to go to the hotel, most certainly, and he just smiled at me as if he were wondering why I was explaining to him. And by the time I got back with the massage oil, a different security guard was standing in his place. All that explaining for nothing. Bah.

Okay, so that was a bit of a tangent.

The hair appointment went well. It's always a tricky deal to put up my hair because there's so much of it, plus it straightens very quickly after it's been curled. I was also a little nervous because he was putting it up at 3:30 pm and it would have to last (ideally) till 10:30 pm or so. As things turned out, it began to wilt at around 8:30 pm, so I guess the next time I decide to do this, I'll either ask for extra-super-heavy-duty hairspray, or I'll do my hair much later in the afternoon (which wasn't an option on this occasion because I had to help set up stuff at the hotel in the afternoon).

It was only when I was about to pay for my hairdo that I realized my Mastercard was missing. Fortunately, I had a Visa card I could use instead, but I was a little panicked since I'd just used the Mastercard to pay at The Body Shop, and had I left it there or dropped it in my bag somewhere or dropped it on the street? The answer, after some minutes of frantic searching, then calling directory assistance to get the number at The Body Shop, was the former. Whew. I'd hate to have had to deal with an utterly lost credit card on a day like that, although the fact that I'd left it at the shop was bad enough. I swear I had it in my hand as I took the receipt from the cashier...

Anyways. Okay, so in typical Singapore fashion, the heavens decided to rain for a little bit. I was waiting for Mrs B to walk over to the hotel from her home, since she wanted a ride to the hotel, but then there was a lot of rain and Mrs B had a lot of camera equipment with her, so I drove over to pick her up instead. We got to the hotel without mishap and brought all our stuff up to the hotel suite, where there were a number of people already milling: the bride (Kay) and groom (Wahj), of course, plus the best man, my husband, the emcee, the videographer and the banquet manager. (Uh, by banquet manager, I mean the friend whom the couple had appointed to be in charge of liaising with the hotel staff for the evening, since the couple would be understandably too busy to deal with all that themselves). Kay's sister (also her maid/matron? of honor) showed up with her family while we were there, then a few of us went down to the adjacent shopping mall to get some McDonald's for hungry people. We also stopped at the ATM to get cash since it'd be a bit difficult to fill an ang pow (red packet) without cash --- although Terz decided to write a check for us this time.

When we got back up, the men in the suite had vanished (except Kay's brother-in-law, who was minding the kids, see below), taking all the stuff down to the reception area. "Stuff" included:

  • seating arrangement lists for dinner
  • name-card holders as gifts for the guests
  • the couple's three Polaroid cameras and plenty of film, for photographic fun during the evening

Kay's friend, who was doing her makeup for her, had also arrived by this time. Since the bridesmaid's two kids were running amok in the room, things got pretty interesting. Fortunately, all the photography equipment was safely stashed away from curious kids' fingers. But the kids got to be too much of a handful and were eventually banished from the bedroom area and at 5:30 pm, some strange Australian show that was like a N'Sync'ed version of Sesame Street was on and the little girl was entranced by it. It was very, very strange. The opening and closing songs of the show (called Hi!5 and there are five teens on it) was "Rain, rain, go away" but it was all techno'd up and virtually unrecognizable except that the five were dancing in yellow raincoats. I thought the program was American at first, but it makes sense that it's Australian. Australians on variety shows on TV have this very earnest air that trumps the attempted soulfulness of a Backstreet Boy any day.

Just before 6 pm, we realized we all really ought to get changed and head downstairs, since the wedding ceremony was scheduled to start at 6:45 pm. Someone was in the shower and the other bathroom wasn't usable at the moment (because of an attempt to smoke in it), so the girls wound up taking turns to change in the bedroom, while hair and makeup was going on for Kay and her sister. The guys, naturally, were all changed already. I mean, men just put on a suit --- big deal.

Downstairs, family members were arriving already. The ceremony was held in a small anteroom outside the ballroom where dinner would be served. The room had floor-to-ceiling mirrors on either end and chairs were arranged before the farther end, to set up an aisle for the bride's family to walk down. Only family members had been invited to witness the ceremony (besides the friends who were dashing around making sure things were just so), and most people made it on time. Terz, Mrs B and Miffy (the friend who was appointed videographer but preferred to be a photographer) circulated in the room. Wahj, the groom, looked highly un-nervous. I smiled and invited people to sign the guestbook. We were trying very hard to start on time, but as it turned out, Kay's hair and makeup took a wee bit longer than was planned --- which was the case in my wedding and Mrs B's too! --- and we began about ten minutes after the appointed hour. It was just beautiful, despite the crackly mike and the fact that the music for the exeunt was late: no stuttering, no insistence on repeating the kiss for photography's sake, no mad screaming from the hyperactive flower girl (aka the girl who was watching Hi!5 an hour before). I suppose one could say there were too many photographers/videographers on the scene, trying to work around each other at the front, but hey, the couple will be glad of it later.

After the ceremony, we had about a half-hour break before dinner, and other guests were trickling in. The couple mingled, drinks were served, Polaroids were taken and kept guests amused while waiting for dinner, I tried to keep the table assignments straight while resisting the urge to chitchat with friends. Everyone was really, really dressed up- -- which, if you've any experience with attending wedding dinners in Singapore, is a really rare occurrence, especially since the dinner invitation didn't specify a dress code. Maybe that's the effect of having dinner at The Four Seasons. However, people were late anyway and dinner, despite our best intentions to start on time (also a rare Singapore occurrence), eventually commenced at about 8:10 pm, twenty-five minutes later than scheduled. I missed the initial goings-on when the couple entered the ballroom, since I had to remain at the reception table to assist guests who were late and to guard all the gifts, but I believe the cake was cut (ceremonially, since they distributed chocolates to each guest instead) and Wahj made a short thank-you speech. I loitered outside the ballroom for maybe another twenty minutes, trying to keep my hair from wilting and also tidying up the reception table so that we could move everything quickly up to the suite when the couple went upstairs to change after the second course.

[Note to non-Singaporean readers: It is customary, at a Chinese wedding banquet, for the bride to change her dress at least once. Sometimes, the groom changes too, or just changes his tie or the color of his shirt or something. I guess it's an old tradition dating back to when you wanted to show off how much money you had by showing off how many wedding outfits you could afford. Brides used to change like two or even three times in the past; nowadays, most girls are contented with the excuse to buy two dresses instead of one, as both Kay and I were.]

By about 8:35 pm, I was starving, so when the Bs came out for a smoke, I was relieved that they volunteered to take over guard duty for a bit, while I went inside to grab some food. They'd saved servings from the first two courses for me and I think I ate too quickly, because I felt rapidly full and even bloated, and that doesn't usually happen to me during a wedding dinner. But the food was lovely. The chicken and abalone soup --- the hotel's alternative to the now commonly vilified sharks' fins soup --- was much better than it sounds. And despite all the men we had at our table, it seemed like we had pretty large servings of food, more than one usually gets at a mass dinner like this.

My duty was pretty much complete for the night, but our three photographers still had plenty to do. Kay and Wahj reentered during the sixth course. For anyone who wants to know, both of Kay's dresses were from Celia Loe- -- simple, understated elegance, very appropriate for her. There was the usual champagne fountain (a bunch of champagne glasses stacked atop each other, and the bride and groom open the bottle and pour it on the top, so that the overfill runs down to fill the other glasses), and we had two toasts: a more "Western" "to the bride and the groom" to acknowledge Kay's side of the family, and then just one simple and not-too-obnoxious "yam seng" to acknowledge Wahj's side. Kay made a speech to thank their parents before they presented them with gifts. Then there was more food, then there were two speeches: a short one by the best man and a longer, funnier one by Kay's father. Then there was more food.

On hindsight, fathers do make the best speeches at weddings. I was a little afraid of what my dad would say at mine, but he was awesome. So was Kay's dad. I suppose the only thing one might fault him for was referring several times to "grandchildren", but I suppose that's obligatory at any wedding, especially Asian ones. In any case, I'd rather hear it from my dad than from some well-meaning pastor or something.

Food, food, and more food... We had an awesome waiter, which I highlight in particular because most wedding banquets employ part-time staff who aren't too clueful, but our guy was great. He was polite, he kept glasses and cups refilled, he remembered --- or at least tried to --- who ate seafood and who didn't, and he was just all-round nice. I'm thinking we should've tipped him on the way out.

Dinner rounded up just before eleven pm and I was stunned because this is about the only dinner I've attended when guests didn't make a beeline for the exit as soon as dessert was served. Family and friends were lingering over dessert and drinks, which was really neat. I hate it when a ballroom empties as soon as everyone thinks it's over, as though they didn't want to be there in the first place.

There was a bit of packing up to do, then most of the aforementioned friends headed up to the bridal suite --- partly to sort things out, partly just to unwind for a bit, certainly not to sabotage the wedding couple in any way (give us a little credit, eh?). There was some talk of going to Bar None, since Kay's brother-in-law works there, but our energy steadily dissipated as soon as we got comfortable in the suite. Some of the guys tried to figure out the karaoke settings on the hi-fi system, but we eventually settled for just plain old MTV. Kay was just glad to be able to get out of her heels; good thing she didn't have to dance in them. Room service brought up the couple's dinner --- a lovely serving of cold cuts, cheeses, bread and a smidgen of dessert --- as well as the chairs and extra glasses we asked for. The best man got a little carried away with taking Polaroids, so that soon got a lot of the other guys (note: guys) in the act, and we must've taken at least thirty just sitting around in the room for those two hours. There was still whiskey left over, so people had some whiskey with water. Wahj and Kay finally got to eat --- except for the blue cheese, which was readily offered to other cheese aficionados in the room --- and dissected a bit of the evening's goings-on. I was surprised that they weren't as tired as we were, after ours, but I think it's because they didn't have to get up in the morning and do the Chinese tea ceremony.

People started trickling off after midnight, beginning with Miffy and J who actually had to work the next day; Terz and I decided to head out at about 1:30 am. We didn't even need the complimentary parking ticket because the barrier was left up at the car park exit --- so if any of you are looking for free parking in that corner of Orchard Road, try The Four Seasons, as long as you leave really, really late.

I'm not sure about the wedding couple, but Terence and I slept in till 1 pm or so yesterday. And we slept some more in the afternoon. I watched Survivor in the evening and cheered as they finally got rid of Brandon --- though I wonder how he and Kelly will get along for the next three days before their jury is joined by a third --- and we went over to Terz's parents' place later so he could tape Band of Brothers. Unfortunately, his mother's VCR didn't cooperate fully, so it looks like we'll have to get the DVD at some point. Meanwhile, I finished reading (finally!) The Fellowship of the Ring. I finished the first half of the book some months back, but stalled at the Rivendell meetings with Elrond, but now I've finished the book and I'm ready to watch the film on Wednesday evening.

Okay, I think we're all caught up now. Whew.

[I decided to add more to today's entry. See the next page.]

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