I hope all of you are enjoying the food. When we were deciding where to host our wedding lunch, we reflected on some of the things that we didn’t quite like about weddings in general, and we thought, “Let’s fix it!”
The first thing was the food. You know, at Chinese weddings, where the dish is placed in the middle of the table? Everyone is supposed to take a share. But then there’s this awkwardness, especially if you don’t know the other people at the table. Nobody dares to be the first to take the food, for fear of appearing too eager. Then when everyone has taken their share and there’s that one last piece of chicken on the serving plate, suddenly everyone becomes the shyest person on earth and nobody dares to take the last piece… wait everyone thinks he’s greedy.
And then the other thing we tried to fix was the celebration timing. It didn’t make sense to us. If we had a morning church service, and then a dinner, many guests would be left in limbo, where the afternoon was not long enough to do anything useful, yet not short enough to simply waste away.
No. Personally, I enjoy challenging the status quo. So in this speech, I’m not really going to thank the wonderful people who’ve helped us individually. Well, I could do that, but if I did, you all wouldn’t know who I was talking about anyway. So no. Let’s not waste your time. Instead, I’ve decided to thank you, our guests, for a change.
To everyone here present today – thank you. Thank you for taking the time off, especially on a Saturday, to be with us on our special day. Today also happens to be my little sister’s birthday (well not so little anymore, considering she flies an F-16 fighter jet for a living), so happy birthday Gwen.
You know, we’ve planned this wedding for more than a year now, and – well, it has been an amazing journey for Ailin and I. For those who have me as their friend on Facebook – poor you; and I’m so sorry for flooding your Facebook timelines with so many photos and updates.
Anyway, what began as a simple plan to go to Church and then have some curry puffs and kuehs after that, exploded into this – A full-blown affair with waiters prancing about and everything. For this, you’ll have to thank our parents – who persuaded us to change our minds on that. And when I say “persuaded”, I mean “strongarmed”. Lucky for us, my elder sister Geraldyn – she’s like this amazing-event-planning-agenda-organising superwoman who helped us to conceptualise the whole event. We would’ve enjoyed the curry puffs and the ondeh-ondehs… but I hope you’ll agree with me when I say this is probably better!
So? How did we end up here? Well, Ailin and I met in university. She was an incoming freshman at the School of Computing, and I had just returned from my exchange programme in the US. I saw her during a school event before the term started, and I kept staring at her, because I thought she was very pretty. But nothing happened. I didn’t know her name, and she of course didn’t know I existed.
Then by chance, a friend, who’s actually also here with us today; he was organising the orientation week, and asked if I wanted to volunteer. Since I had nothing to do, I agreed. He made me a group leader. On the first day of orientation week, I sat at the gathering point for my group. After awhile, I turned around to find that, eh? this pretty girl is sitting here. Was she in my group? I had to be sure, so I began taking attendance. Sun Ailin? Great, now I knew her name – and, because I was her group leader, I had her phone number as well!
When orientation was over and the school term began, I was afraid that we wouldn’t see each other again. We were in different majors, and it was not likely that a 3rd year would have the same classes as a freshman. So I began to “create” chances to meet. I made sure that I was always in the same tutorial room at the same time for lunch. That made it easy for her to look for me if she had to. When I heard her complaining about having to bring so many books to school, I quickly volunteered to share my locker with her. This ingenious idea would prove really useful later, when we began passing letters by depositing them into the locker. Oh, and there was also this practice of borrowing textbooks from seniors. She needed a particular math textbook so I said I’d lend it to her – the truth is I didn’t have it, so I ran to the bookstore to buy the book, scribbled some notes to make it look used, and then passed it to her. At the time, I thought that maybe if I lent her the book, I’d get to see her at least one more time when she returned it! It was only much later when I found out that she had also been engineering these chances to meet too. After a couple of months, we were an item.
At the start, it appeared that we couldn’t have been more different. She spoke Mandarin most of the time, and I could barely order a plate of chicken rice in Mandarin. Even when we took the same math class at university, I’d use an entire A4 sheet of paper for my workings, and she’d take a long look, pause, and then simply write three lines. Of course, she got the full mark, and I would get some marks for an attempt.
But then as the months passed, it seemed that we had more in common than we thought. We loved going for walks together. We loved cooking together, and we appreciated and enjoyed the simple things in life. A fifteen minute walk through the park would take us over an hour, because we’d stop at each plant and just talk about it. Her family treated me like their own son, and my family welcomed her with open arms.
Four years later, the day before I was going to propose, I didn’t know I was going to propose. You see, just a few weeks before, we were out shopping at ION Orchard. I had gone to get something, and on the way back to meet her, I decided to venture into a jewellery store. It just felt right. And I got the ring. Then on a Friday morning, the shop called to say that the ring was ready. I went down to collect it. That night, I couldn’t sleep. I knew I wanted to ask her to marry me. I just didn’t know how. Should I call all our friends? Perhaps not. It was a personal thing – something that I had to do with her, alone. Should there be a big “Will You Marry Me” sign somewhere made with roses? No, I had to be the one to ask her myself. So many thoughts went through my mind. In the end, I decided not to overthink it – and, well, just do it! When it happened, I thought it was probably the worst marriage proposal ever! But she, on the other hand, she thought it was perfect.
Through all of this, we’ve come to learn one thing about love, and about marriage; and it is that it doesn’t matter how similar or how different we are. Heck, it didn’t even matter that we didn’t really speak the same language in the beginning. It is, however, about effort. Our continued and dedicated effort to give ourselves to each other – whether it’s the effort to learn new words in another language, or the effort to plan an event, even if it doesn’t turn out the way we envisioned. It is still about the effort. And that effort stems from our willingness to give. Some people say marriage is about giving and taking – I don’t quite think so. I think it is purely only about giving. You give all of yourself, and expect nothing in return. For it is not a business transaction. It is also not merely a feeling of love. It is a vow to love. A lifelong promise to keep on deciding to love one another each and every day, no matter how tough things get.
I’ve finally found the one that I want to make this promise to. And, I’m glad she chose me.
My wife (hmm, this takes some getting used to). My wife and I would like to thank everyone again for being here, and to everyone who has put in the hours and hours of thought, planning, and hard work to make this day special for us.
As if your presence here wasn’t enough, I’d like to ask for another gift from all of you – a gift of prayer. This request was in the church booklet this morning, but for the benefit of those who weren’t there, this is what it said:
As we begin our life together as a married couple, Ailin and I humbly ask that you pray for us – for unwavering faith, that we may distance ourselves from the unimportant and worldly desires of this earth and instead seek to earn our place in heaven; for courage and perseverance, that we will always yearn to do what is right and good even in the face of overwhelming difficulty and persecution; and for suffering, for not too much such that we collapse under its weight, and for not too little so that we will remain humble in our own failings and shortcomings.
Thank you once again for being here with us, and thank you, my dear, for choosing me.