Attending a Chinese wedding in Singapore or Malaysia is somewhat a unique experience for foreigners—there are just so many things to learn, from what time to leave to how much you should put in your angbao.
Other than these, there are just many unspoken rules we have to abide by.
Since there have been more non-Chinese foreigners in Singapore, maybe a list of the unspoken rules of a Singapore Chinese wedding will be useful!
1. The start timing is always half an hour later than the time indicated on the card
If it says 7:30 p.m., then it’s perfectly fine to arrive at 8:00 p.m. If you arrive early, say 7:00 p.m., then make sure you have downloaded some games in your phone, because no one ever comes early for a Chinese wedding dinner.
2. You have to sit through the videos played, no matter how uninterested you are
And you’ll have to look interested. Usually, there are two videos: the montage of the married couple and the gatecrash that occurred in the morning. No matter what you think, you’ll still have to laugh at the gatecrash, because everyone else is laughing. Just laugh at the brothers’ expressions when they drink the sourest tea in the world, even if you’ve seen that expression countless times.
3. You can only leave after you’ve taken a picture with the couple
After two videos are played, the couple will usually go around taking pictures with the people on each table. That is attendance: make sure you take the images first before you leave. If not, the couple might not even remember that you’ve attended.
4. When someone whom you’re not close to invite you, it’s to fill up the table
Hard truths, man. If your primary school friend whom you’ve only spoken twice before in your entire life invited you, it’s because there’s a ten-pax table and they’ve only confirmed five people. So you’re part of the other five to fill up the gap—as they’ll still have to pay the cost of a table regardless of how many people are there. So, decide yourself. It’s not that you’ve made a very good impression when you were in primary school, dude.
5. Your angbao must be of market rate
…because it’s like that. How bad is this rule? Well, you’ve got to write your name on the angbao. The whole idea is that they’ll give you back the same amount when you get married. If you’re not married, that is.
6. You must follow ALL the instructions
When the MC says stand, you stand. When the MC says sit, you sit. When they yum seng, at least hold up your glass even if you’re not interested to shout. These are the written rules, so the unspoken rule is that you must follow the written rules.
7. Don’t help yourself too much to the food
Because even if you see empty seats, they’ll suddenly appear. And don’t help yourself to the beer or wine. There have been many instances of wedding dinners running out of alcohol—literally. Just do yourself a favour and drink sparingly. Your angbao is big, but don’t let your ego be big, too.
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