“The hardest part for me was that not everyone whom I wished to be there could be there. As a people person, this affected me a lot as I treasure my relationships with many friends and family beyond the mere 20 who could be there. It was hard at first, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to have the wedding I’ve envisioned all these years.”
Kerin Goh had plans for a large wedding, with at least a few hundred family and friends, complete with a hotel banquet. But all these expectations melted away with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Focus on the Family Singapore, Kerin shared that she and her then fiancé Ivan Lau had to scramble to come up with multiple scenarios – a different plan for 10, 20, 30 or 50 guests. Moreover, the hotel deposit had already been paid and relatives had already been unofficially invited during the Chinese New Year period.
Given the uncertainties of the situation, they unanimously decided to go ahead with the wedding.
Kerin explained: “Would things get better, or would it get worse? We didn’t know. All we knew was that a window had opened for our chosen date, so we would just make do with what little was allowed to be done. Both of us knew that at the end of the day, we look forward to our marriage and life together far more than a lavish wedding celebration.”
So the moment the Circuit Breaker was lifted and Singapore moved into Phase Two, the couple rushed ahead to contact vendors and make all the necessary preparations. Thankfully, their parents were supportive and that took one load off their shoulders. In their words, the experience was “hectic, but also fun”.
The wedding ceremony
The couple’s wedding ceremony was held at their church, with live streaming via Zoom. In order to ensure maximum participation, the couple sent GrabFood vouchers to all their guests via email, allowing the guests to enjoy a physical wedding reception even as they witnessed the wedding virtually.
For the elder relatives who were not familiar with technology, the Laus got their cousins and siblings to deliver food to their homes, as well as assist them in setting up Zoom on their TV.
What was interesting for the couple was the traditional Guo Da Li, a cultural practice for wedding couples to deliver cakes to members of the Bride’s extended family. The Laus merged this practice with another tradition, the Tea Ceremony, during which the wedding couple would normally serve tea as a form of respect to their elders.
For the Laus, they made the necessary arrangements so that they could serve tea to their relatives while delivering cakes. In this way, the couple was able to still respect the elders while abiding by the social distancing rules.
They shared, “It was very meaningful for us, that in the midst of a crisis we were able to redefine culture and still express how much we value family.”
The life lessons learnt
While Ivan initially only had a vague impression of what his big day might look like, he felt that a good wedding is one that is well-coordinated with his wife-to-be – like their first project-of-a-lifetime together.
Although it was difficult dealing with the uncertainties and constantly shifting terrain, he chose to focus on the opportunities that the crisis availed to them.
“We had some good deals that came our way, simply because there were fewer clients around this period. More importantly, the hoops that we had to jump through just to make things happen made this experience all the more memorable. This is a story we will tell for a long time.”
As for Kerin, she learnt the importance of deliberately choosing contentment and gratitude whatever the limitations. “This is what helped me accept the reality of the matter. I decided to go ahead when I realised that if I kept waiting for the next better opportunity, there is no end to it.”
At the end of the day, the Laus believe that marriage is not only about a beautiful wedding, but something bigger.
“Marriage is about a Covenant. In the end, it is about us promising to love each other for life, through the good and the bad. In the larger scheme of things, all the celebratory elements – while still important – are secondary. This crisis really surfaced this truth for us.”
© 2020 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Mark Lim is Consultant & Counsellor at The Social Factor, a consultancy and counselling agency which conducts training on life skills such as parenting, mentoring and special needs. He and his wife Sue co-write a parenting blog Parenting on Purpose, where they chronicle the life lessons from parenting two young boys aged 10 and 8.
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