Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Cherish, Honour and Obey

I went for my first ever Australian wedding a few weeks ago. To be fair, it was the second wedding that I have attended since being in Australia, but this was the first Caucasian one that I have attended. I was like the Token Asian Guy there, if you know what I mean!

It was held in a vineyard somewhere in the south of Melbourne, about an hour and ten minutes' drive away, especially if you're really late, and your girlfriend has kindly offered you her car which has the electronic tag device for the Citylink tolls on it.

True to form, I arrived twenty minutes late at the vineyard, to see the groom and bride about to walk into the garden where friends and relatives were waiting for them. M looked dashing and poised in his cream-coloured suit as E's left hand slipped into his, bouquet in her right hand, dressed in a beautiful off-shoulder wedding gown.

They turned the upper halves of their bodies to look at me as I drove the car around the corner. M smiled and waved hello, and just at that very moment, the sun peeked through the chink between them (hello, Mao's Last Dancer!), and they were bathed in the glorious Melbourne evening sun, both of them looking for a moment like angels on their wedding day.

They must have ran towards the celebrant, because by the time I was parked and out of my car, both M and E were already standing in front of the sixty-odd crowd of witnesses, and the celebrant's voice floated in the air as she spoke the blessings and officiated the wedding.

From where I was, it was a little difficult to hear what was being said, yet when it came M's turn to say his vows, everyone could see his lips move as he stumbled through his prepared speech to E, but his flushed face and tearing eyes were evidence enough of the emotions running in them that evening. The sight of a grown man crying, especially for all who knew M, evoked a lump in all our throats and tears were gathering at the fringes of most eyes present.

The ceremony itself was brief, and soon vows were exchanged, and signatures cemented the wedding. We then headed into the wine cellar, dimly lit with candles, as we drank champagne and ate canapes while meeting friends, new and old.

The dinner itself was nice and cozy in a restaurant that overlooked the vineyard. The food was quite good, but the highlight of the night were the speeches from the parents. Both M and E came from a large family of four siblings, and both fathers were equally eloquent and witty in celebrating and embarassing M and E that night. You could hear the pride in both their voices about their children, and how welcoming they were to their respective partners.

M spoke last and admitted that he did not know what the ingredients of a happy marriage were, as most of who he considered to be happily married couples warned him about the perils of marriage, while the only person to say something nice to them as a couple was their jeweller, who was recently divorced!

It then proceeded to a night of drunken dancing, as white people, emboldened by alcohol, finally took to the dance floor to sort-of dance. Okay, so I was guilty of some bad sort-of dancing as well, but I will never turn down the opportunity to move my body like an epileptic.

The night soon drew to an end, and goodbye kisses and congratulations wished to the happy couple before I left, feeling warmed by what I had witnessed tonight.

I Do. I mean I would like to I Do.

The long drive home that night allowed me to entertain some thoughts as the wheels slowly ate up the distance between me and home.

I think that perhaps I am generalising here, but I think that a lot of women think about their wedding day.

About four or five years ago, that was a very occupying thought of mine as well - about how perfect my wedding day would be, about the speech that I would make, about the friends and family gathered around to celebrate this momentous occasion. I would wish Dad were there to see it as well.

People talk about how there shouldn't be an emphasis on the wedding day, but on the marriage instead. Too much emphasis is placed on that single stressful day sometimes, when the real crux of it is in the journey together as a married couple.

Yet tonight was a reminder that weddings were important, too, as a celebration of a milestone in both M and E's lives - much like the hallowed 21st birthday celebrations here.

It was a chance to hear the stories from the parents who had watched their sons and daughters grow up, blossoming into adults, and falling in love; with the secret wish for the couple that they too will one day give their own speeches at the happy weddings of their sons and daughters.

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