We set out in high spirits for Sport Club Harapan Indah at 6pm – the invitation card said 7pm. No one had an inkling of the wedding nightmares to follow, which had nothing to do with the pouring rain that Sunday evening or the taxi driver getting lost.
Weddings are happy events. It’s a celebration of love that unites everyone – including relatives that you have no inclination whatsoever to rekindle family ties with. On the upside, you’re kept abreast of the family goings-on amidst having to endure the question of when your turn will be to walk down the aisle. A new family member is also gained who you discover along the way to be, unfortunately, an imperious, pretentious right wing and can’t disown because divorce is disallowed like in the Philippines. It is the only country, aside from Malta, that doesn’t recognize divorce. Choices of getting out of an unhappy union are legal separation, which means you’re free but not to remarry, and annulment, in which case you need a lot of patience because it’ll take a while to get it to the Pope for his signature. You can share the thrill of tying the knot and imagine how yours would turn out if you’re close to the bride or groom, but if you’re not, it’s a nightmare you simply have to suffer without being a killjoy.
The weddings I’ve attended were by and large pleasant affairs despite at one garden wedding, the bride, an old high school friend, glared at me from under her punctiliously mascara-ed eyelashes to catch her bouquet, not let it fall like the first time. All the single women – coerced or not – gathered in the middle of the garden did not move to catch the bouquet so it landed on the ground. I found myself alone in front the next round because everyone took two steps back – I was busy spacing out. I glumly caught the bouquet, as I wasn’t looking forward to the next ritual. Filipino weddings generally compel single women to join in the bouquet-catching and the single men in the wedding garter-catching. Those who catch the bouquet and the garter are crowned the new couple, which is a scene that some, like me, would like to avoid.
It’s different in Indonesia. The men and women at the Sport Club were jostling for space in front of the stage where the bride and groom were positioned like royalty addressing their subjects. They were eager to catch the bouquet, which meant a nice prize for the catcher from the couple. My friend went home with a new mobile phone from a wedding he attended months ago.
Another notable difference is the wedding cake. It’s the real McCoy at Filipino wedding receptions – towering layers of cake smothered in cream icing or wrapped in marzipan, and topped by figurines of the couple. At this Sunday wedding, the only real elements of the wedding cake on display were the cream icing and décor.
But the faux wedding cake, the ghastly wedding singer or the doltish emcee that babbled and screamed are nothing compared to the boors that surfaced at the buffet spread, which only underlined my belief that a buffet wedding reception is a huge wedding nightmare. People simply lose their heads! I still remember the boorish photographer hired for my Aunt’s wedding ages ago. He stationed himself at the other side of the buffet table, scooped what would one think was his last meal, and shamelessly glared when ticked about his manners.
We were faced with a family of batik-clad boors that brazenly cut queue. He pushed his sons and himself ahead at the buffet table. His wife joined them shortly. Next group of boors were two middle-aged women who ignored the snaking line at the siomay (dumpling) station and brashly cut the person next in line. It was so appalling that everyone was too dumfounded to say anything.
If nightmares arrived in full force at my wedding, I’ll have more than a word with my wedding planner. In any case, weddings are interesting tableaus. One part of the stage sees the unfolding dream of the happy couple and the nightmares on the other.