Whilst Singapore is one cosmopolitan city, customs and traditions still form part and parcel of everyday living. And when it comes to weddings, the little red dot is big on age-old traditions. Couples observe wedding rites that have transcended time and reflect the country’s heritage and unique culture. Here are some interesting Singapore wedding rituals and their significance to the marrying couple’s future life:
• On the eve of the wedding, the hair of the future couple has to be combed four times by a female relative who has had good fortune. This hair combing ritual, called “Shang Tou”, symbolises the things that the couple’s family and friends wish for them. Each stroke carries a special meaning – the first combing is for the marriage to last a lifetime; the second is for a harmonious marriage; the third one is for blessing of fertility and the last stroke is for prosperity in a long-lasting marriage.
• Two to three weeks before the wedding, the groom’s family presents a set of gifts to the future in-laws in what is known as the “Guo Da Li” or the betrothal. The custom originates from the Teochew province in China. It aims to bind both families together and shows the sincerity of the groom to the brides’ family. The dowry usually consists of jewelry and other auspicious items including a tea set for tea ceremony, a pair of bowls, chopsticks and spoons.
• In the traditional “Xiong di dui” or fetching of the bride, the groom and his male friends and relatives will go to the bride’s house and fetch her. But it’s not that easy. Often, offers of red packet and a series of tasks have to be fulfilled by the groom before he is allowed to enter the house. The bridesmaids put the groom in a trial of games otherwise known as “jie meis.” These tasks range from simple ones such as completing a board game to the most ridiculous like asking the groom to dance or eat something he does not like. The games are meant to test the resourcefulness of the groom and his buddies who often step in to assist the groom in completing the bridesmaids’ challenge.
• After the groom has picked up the bride and they are about to leave the house, a bridesmaid with a red umbrella will usher the bride into the car. Upon arrival at the groom’s house, a tea ceremony or “Feng Cha” will be held in order for the couple to pay homage to their ancestors with a prayer. As a gesture of respect, they then present cups of tea to the groom’s parents, followed by his elders starting with the most senior of them. Relatives and/or children who are younger than the couple will in turn serve tea to the bride and groom and will receive a red packet.
• To celebrate the marriage, the groom’s family will throw a wedding feast for their respective families and friends. The bride’s family may also host a wedding banquet of their own. Traditionally, this banquet would last for at least seven days. These days, a wedding ceremony is held at a restaurant or a hotel usually on the same day as the tea ceremony in the evening to celebrate the union. Most wedding venues in Clarke Quay offer wedding packages that cater to every couple’s needs and requirements. These packages also fit every bride and groom’s budget and promise the grandeur and tradition of gracious receptions that are truly uniquely memorable.