For a person who bats for the other team, I have been to a fair few weddings in my life. When I was younger, the weddings I have been to are usually ghastly, cookie-cutter affair. Granted, I have only attended the banquets at these weddings, but even these were more predictable than my mom’s weekly grocery list. I started the first course with utmost sincerity and warm wishes for the newlyweds; by the fifth I was yearning for desserts to be served so that I can go home and forget the dull, dull moments of drunken toasting, horrible singing and bland food I had to endure.
However as I grow older, the weddings I attended to took on a more comfortable, if peculiar, personality. Instead of staring in confusion at the invitation card with names I don’t recognise (these were usually from the genre of familial weddings), I found myself inexplicably looking forward to these little packages of matrimonial joy. What used to be viewed as a “wedding bomb” – no one likes spending money on weddings of people they don’t know – is now a token of recognition.
Recognition, because these invites now come from close friends. Friends whom have been there when I was a young, naive thing. Friends whom have seen the best and worst of me (often worst). Friends whom loved me for who I am, not what I was or what I could become.
Friends who wanted me to be a part of their celebration.
To be asked to be one of the groomsmen (or one of the bridesmaids, I wasn’t fussy) is perhaps one of the highest recognition a friend can bestow to another. Yes, there are always the practical side of things when the brothers had to run errands for the groom, and the sisters went on diets to fit into their identical dresses. But those little sacrifices cost me little compared to the joy I derived from being there when it happens.
On a recent weekend I returned to Singapore for the wedding of Tony and Yali (affectionately hastagged as #tonyyaliwedding) as one of the groomsmen, though (just for the record) I have no problems switching over to the other team and be a bridesmaid instead. For both the groom and bride are my good friends, and we went back a long, long way for me to even bicker about the things I was asked to do to be there for the biggest day of their lives.
I still remember the first day when I met Tony. It was my first year in the university, and I was in his hostel room for some committee meeting when he slide down the slope in front of his room, decked simply in a white shirt and jeans, like he just stepped of some men’s fashion magazine. I am probably over exaggerating it here, but I remembered that vivid moment, when I thought to myself, gosh, that guy was stylish.
Tony and I have been steadfast friends throughout the university years, and beyond. We were in the university band together, and shared many similar classes in our engineering course. Over many hours of cramming for exams and endless cups of coffee trying to stay awake, we bonded beyond lecture notes and music scores.
They say friendship is like Rome; it’s never built in a day. Over the past decade my friendship with Tony was built one tale at a time. Tale of joy as we graduated from university, tale of sorrows as we shared the hardship of life, and tale of hope as we both charted our future, albeit in different directions. We would never share the same pants as some other close friends do (okay, so I am a few inches bigger than he is), but I am proud to be able to count on Tony as one of my closest friends till today.
Not long after we graduated from university, I realised something is about to change in Tony. Instead of being afraid of the change and what it could meant to our friendship, I welcomed this one with open arms. I saw a sparkle in his eyes, a confidence in his steps, a deep-seated belief in his plans. Tony has always been a man with a plan, someone who goes with the flow but never be without his principles, yet at that time he seemed… stronger than before.
That was when Yali came into his life.
They say behind every successful man is a beautiful woman. Yali is undeniably beautiful, and definitely more. From the years I have known her, she had always strike me as a gorgeous, career woman, who knows what she wants in life and how to get there. Along the way she coloured her life with laughter and colours, with dreams and hopes. We have shared many a high-spirited jokes and joyous moments over the years; Yali is certainly delightful girl to be with.
And it was with this personality that she brought balance into Tony’s life; her yin to his yang. The three of us spent the occasional weekend together, even after I have moved to Hong Kong for good. To my untrained eyes, I saw a couple who found solace in each other, strengths to complement their weaknesses.
It was a match made in heaven.
To be a part of the bridal party during their wedding was a great honour to me.Never had I witness a wedding so detailed and meticulously planned; it was as if we are going into war with no tolerance for uncertainties. I would be lying if I say I wasn’t stressed from all the briefings and discussions, but I took them in my stride and tackled them one at a time.
Note: From this point on, there should be photos from the wedding but since they are not ready yet, I will include them later!
The wedding went on almost without a hitch. The gate crashing was hilarious. Despite their best ideas and devious intentions, the bridesmaids’ war plan was thwarted by the incredibly well-prepared groomsmen. Walkie talkies, blow torches, screw drivers, chilled beers were all called into service as we danced, kissed and schemed our way to the bride’s room.
Yali, dressed in a breathtaking white gown, was stunning. She swept past the groomsmen with a radiant smile as her prince charming looked on in pleasure. The bridesmaids, after getting over the disappointment of the gatecrashing fiasco, were twittering in excitement.
The wedding has begun.
My past experiences with tea ceremonies were painful, to say the least. But at both Tony’s and Yali’s, it went within a blink of the eye. Partly because the whole bridal party get on well with each other, and the happy minutes just went flying by.
Here’s a quick video montage of what happened that morning.
The solemnisation ceremony, which took place at The Rock at Rasa Sentosa, was a glorious, glorious affair. Worries were abound and prayers were offered when a storm threatened to throw our arrangement into disarray. But as the fateful hour approaches the sky opens up, the sun shone down on us, and trees whispered secrets of love and hope.
Our hearts soared with well wishes for the couple. The procession of bridesmaids herald the arrival of the bride, glowing in the arm of her father. As the father spoke of wisdom and promises, Yali’s hands were passed on into Tony’s, and a spontaneous applause broke out. I am sure I wasn’t the only one with tears prickling at the back of my eyes.
The Justice of Peace was certainly a character. I would thought a solemnization ceremoney will be just that – solemn. The real thing, however, was far from that. He joked, teased and roused the crowd into a teehee-ing, if composed, mess. The “I Do”s rang with conviction, the beautiful rings exchanged. The vows moment was particularly hilarious. Let it be a lesson to all; if you are going to read off your vows from your iPhones, at least set it to Airplane mode. Be very certain that your dear friends WILL call your number while you are at it.
And the banquet began, a glitzy affair of 300+ people. I hardly sat down to enjoy the food, for I was busy with mingling amongst the guests and doing groomsmen’s duties, all in all having a jolly good time. As friends and families tucked in into their feasts, hilarity ensued as friends took to the stage for speeches about the newlyweds, and clips be played to the amusement (and in my case, laughter) of the guests.
The hours flew by, and soon the dinner drew the high-spirited end. The guests were relatively well behaved – no over-the-top toasting, no unwanted grope of fellow guests, no clumsy trips over the bride’s many fabulous evening gowns. As I observed Tony and Yali bade farewell to their guests, I realised how tired my feet were, and how my heart was sore with joy.
Without a doubt, it was certainly a night to remember.
To my fellow groomsmen – Jerome, Terence, Mok, David and Soo – thank you for being the best brothers a man could ask for. We were a kick ass team; always composed and never get panic gets the better of us. We redefined the catchphrase “keep calm and carry on“!
To the beautiful bridesmaids – Eunice, Chloe, Yuting, Ling, Meiyi and Daphne – let it be said that you girls were a fearsome bunch to behold, ready to launch the most gruesome attack to protect the bride… but of course when it is Yali we are talking about, no effort shall be spared, yes? And not forgetting the incredibly talented wedding designer Dennis, whose eye for details and flair to impress had me yearning with envy. It has been an honour to be walking, running, drinking and laughing alongside everyone of you.
And finally, at the end of this very, very long blog post, I would like to thank Tony and Yali, for being there for me over all these years, for bestowing me with the honour to be part of your joyous occasion, and for making it one of the most beautiful experience I had in my life. I wish you everlasting happiness as you build your future together, and I hope I will always, always be a part of your lives.