Attending Chinese Wedding Dinner - A Pain In My Neck

It's that time of the year again! After all the drinking is done, and the hangovers have finally worn off, the start to a new year is the opportune time to reflect on one's experiences of yesteryear so as to plan positive changes in one's life for the new year.

For me, after having lived more than three score years, making New Year resolutions may seem passé. But after countless experiences since reaching adulthood and making my views known to many of my friends, relatives and the public through personal contacts and articles in the press, attending Chinese wedding dinners still remains a pain in my neck. They are always late in starting, sometimes very noisy and occasionally guests were treated as teetotalers.

Therefore, my only New Year Resolution for 2006 is to stop attending Chinese wedding dinners.

Wedding dinner is an auspicious and joyous occasion. Guests are invited to the dinner to celebrate the marriage of their relatives or friends. But many would go away after the dinner feeling unhappy.

Lack of punctuality is the root of all evil. It is either the guests, deliberately or otherwise, who would arrive late or the restaurant is unable to get the food ready on time. But I am very convinced, from my own personal experience in organizing my son's wedding dinner, that with proper planning and putting across our views to all guests and those involved including the hotel and restaurant management that punctuality is to be strictly adhered to, Chinese wedding dinner can start on the dot.

Simply put, what is needed is for the hosts to put in that extra effort in organizing the occasion in order to dispel the myth that a Chinese wedding dinner cannot start punctually.

Nowadays, with the advent of karaoke, the atmosphere in some wedding dinners is simply noisy and chaotic with karaoke music blaring and some guests shouting themselves hoarse at the microphone, which they call singing! The noise generated is so deafening that one has to raise one's voice to conduct any intelligible conversation with your friend sitting next to you. The dinning hall has virtually turned into a total madhouse!

A Chinese wedding dinner is an auspicious occasion, and as a tradition, alcoholic drinks are always served at the reception and in the dinning hall. On a few occasions that I was invited, no alcoholic drink or only a limited amount was available. One has to order from the restaurant and pay for it if no alcohol is served or the stock has run out. At one Chinese wedding dinner that I attended, I was told that on religious grounds, no alcoholic drinks would be served. But I was shocked to find that, at the main table, champagne was flowing all night long!

I could very well find excuses to avoid attending Chinese wedding dinners. But true to my character, I have not done so in all my life. Now with this New Year Resolution, I will make it known to all concerned that Chinese wedding dinners will be out of bounds to me.

An edited version of the above was published in Star Two on 10/01/06.

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