Our friend Muna recently got married to her long time boyfriend Nasruddin.
“Seriously, it’s about time,” Saffy said as she inspected the wedding invitation the day before. “They’ve been dating like since before Mariah’s breakdown. And I’m loving the paper stock of this invite. See, this is what wedding invitations should be like!” she said, her ample bosom heaving with approval.
Recently, another set of friends John and Sook Heng had sent out an email invitation which scandalised Amanda. “I hope this isn’t the actual invitation!” she said. In a rare meeting of minds, Saffy also refused to attend the wedding dinner and sent the happy couple a snapshot of her lying on a beach in Phuket and a note that said, “Just prop this picture of me on the seat!”
To all her friends, she complained, “Well, if I’m not even worth a hard copy invite on proper stationery, then they’re not worth the real me showing up.” Which led her best friend Sharyn to wonder to me, “Wah, like that can, meh?”
I sighed and said that weddings always made the girls weird. “Remember that time Saffy poured a whole bowl of sharks-fin soup down the chief bridesmaid’s dress because she made that joke about single women being desperate?” I said happily. “I’m just dying to see what happens at Muna’s. It’s their first void deck wedding!”
A few days later, the three of us piled into a cab to head to Bedok. “I’m not sure I understand the romance of a void deck marriage,” Amanda said, as she delicately adjusted the lace on her latest Prada outfit.
“I think we’re overdressed,” Saffy grumbled as she adjusted her bra strap. I spotted the cab driver flick his eyes back and forth his rear-view mirror. “Please watch where you’re going, Uncle,” I said.
Just then an SMS arrived from Barney Chen on all three phones: ‘I am trying very hard not to slap my cab driver who has CLEARLY taken the long way! Will be late!’
The thing I love about Malay weddings is the whole informality of it all. You usually hear the noise long before you see the actual gathering, but there’s a stream of people in colourful tudungs and sarongs milling around handsome kids clinging to their patient parents. People come and go. Struggle through the sea of aunties and grannies to say hello to the bride and groom sitting on the stage in their finest silks and extravagant make-up. Grab a plate, get served, find the nearest empty table. Sit, say hello to a complete stranger, eat, get up and go home just in time for a repeat of American Idol.
I’ve found that if I don’t dally at a Malay wedding, I can be done in an hour.
Which can be disconcerting to those used to the tedious drawn out drama of Chinese weddings with their ridiculous costume changes by the bride, business card exchanges and endless rounds of half-hearted yum-sings.
“Have we actually missed the ceremony?” Saffy asked as she stood at the foot of the stairs of block 13 and surveyed the organised chaos before her. “And is that Muna over there on that dais? Good lord, her make-up is three dimensional!”
“This humidity is ruining my outfit. We need to sit under a fan!” Amanda instructed as she stepped smartly towards an empty table. I headed to the buffet table. I’d spotted mee rebus.
The novelty of a Malay wedding kept everyone happily engaged, though at one stage, Amanda completely forgot where she was and asked one of the passing maciks if there was a chance she could get a gin and tonic.
“You know,” Barney Chen said as he idly stroked the plastic table covering and stared at the distant couple, “I’m happy for Muna and Nas and everything, but I just can’t imagine beginning my married life under a pink and white tulle tent in a Bedok HDB void deck!”
“I think it’s great. It’s so festive! And think of all the money you save,” I said.
“Meanwhile, it’s only just occurring to me that Malay men are seriously hot!” Saffy said suddenly, as she sat up to concentrate and look around the concrete hall. “Look at the beautiful eyes on that guy over there!”
“Back away slowly, bitch,” Barney warned. "I saw him first."
“How could I,” Saffy said, by now completely in a parallel universe, “with all my extensive dating history, have missed an entire demographic?”
Leave it to Sharyn to be practical when she heard about this. “She eat rendang every day, her constipation how?”