Back in October last year, my wife and I went to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to attend the Chinese wedding of our friends Claude and Jade.
As part of the Chinese pre-wedding ceremony tradition, Claude had to bargain his way into Jade’s family home. This involved arriving at Jade’s house with his groomsmen to haggle with her bridesmaids for entry through the front gate. The bargaining began with Claude, saying that he wanted to marry Jade, to which the bridesmaids began their demands.
Claude is a very quiet and thoughtful person who doesn’t have an extroverted bone in his body. The bridesmaids knew this about him and required that Claude declare his love for Jade at the top of his voice in five different languages. Claude was fairly easily able to comply with the language component of their demand but the bridesmaids like sharks sensing blood in the water kept calling on him to declare his love louder and louder. Whoever said that Asians are inscrutable and quiet doesn’t know Asians. Jade’s Chinese bridesmaids were howling with laughter, with each attempt by Claude to satisfy their wishes and they raucously cajoled him into greater heights of embarrassment. The bridesmaids were merciless.
Finally, the bridesmaids relented and let Claude and his grooms through the front gate only to stop him at the front door. Jade was behind the closed front door and the bridesmaids told Claude that he would have to answers questions asked by Jade, and that if he didn’t get them correct, his best man had to apply make-up to him. Needless to say Jade asked so many questions that Claude was eventually covered in very badly applied makeup, accompanied by the very delighted shrieks of the bridesmaids.
The girls were loving it! Claude looked like he was going through a trial by ordeal. It was very hot and humid and Claude was being dragged way out of his comfort zone.
The next step in Claude’s trials was to cross the living room to the bottom of the stairs, where he was once again stopped by the bridesmaids with their new demands. I could see that Claude was starting to flag, and his spirits really dropped when he was told that he would have to sing a love song in French at the top of his voice to get up the stairs.
Luckily, Claude is a Francophone (which the bridesmaids knew) so he knew the words of a French song. The bridesmaids really enjoyed themselves as poor old Claude embarrassed himself once again at their pleasure.
After the song Claude and his entourage were allowed to the top of the stairs to the door and outside of Jade’s bedroom. The next demand by the bridesmaids was for money. Basically they didn’t stop until they had everything in his wallet and only then did they let him through to see Jade.
The actual Chinese wedding ceremony was a surprisingly simple and brief affair. The father and mother of the house, lit joss sticks and made offerings to their ancestors after which Jade and Claude did the same thing.
Tea was then made and Jade and Claude offered it to each other and then to Jade’s grandmother. After tea, Jade’s grandmother then presented Jade with some gold, and that was it, they were now married.
The wedding reception was another thing altogether. It was held in a very grand hotel, and there were about 300 guests.
In February this year Claude and Jade had a lovely western civil wedding here in Sydney