My Sister’s Wedding in Singapore – Thank You For Your Warm Wishes

We wrapped up the night with a group photo

It is amazing how pressure can propel us to do the seemingly impossible.  I woke up this morning barely 8 hours after I shot the last photo of the evening and my parents were already pacing around my living room hinting or rather strongly hinting that they wished to take all the photos I have shot for my sister’s wedding as they are.  As they are?!  It is hard to explain to them why they can do that for point-and-shoot photos and not for the 500 pictures I took with my dSLR camera.  I find it hard to believe that too.  It has got to be my skill, or the lack of it.

And because it breaks my heart to see my parents fly back to Hong Kong disappointed, not only have I done the necessary photo shortlisting and touch up in record time, but also have them published online with a less than 24 hours turnaround time.  I am happy with the results.  Some of the shots I really like.  I suppose Benny and Lora may have passed this blog entry to you for viewing.  Maybe you were there, maybe you couldn’t make it.  As a proud brother of Lora and a good old friend of Benny, I thank you for your warm wishes to the wedding couple.  I am pretty sure in time to come Benny and Lora will share the professionally done up photos of the event with you.  Meanwhile, here are some of the candid shots I have taken to complement the event, arranged chronologically in three albums.

PS. Stay tuned for a little write-up on how the day went.  Thank you for viewing the pictures and as always, feedback is welcome.

Delivering the Wedding Gifts the Traditional Chinese Way (過大禮 / 过大礼) … In the Modern Day

Benny, My Dad, and the Wedding Gifts

Here is the thing, I am lousy when it comes to Chinese tradition.  Maybe I shall read more Chinese literature, maybe I shall date a … or maybe I shall just talk to my parents more.

We can talk about the six Chinese wedding etiquette here.  But if you are more of a visual person, here is the link to my personal family photo album.  Yes, in this tidy home of my parents in Hong Kong we have a dog named Tak Tak.  He is smart, he is adorable, and I will share a photo album of just my dog later.  How late?  I don’t know.  I still have my photos taken in Fraser Hill unprocessed, awaiting to be published.

One day I woke up at the apartment on the 5th floor – my parents stay on the 7th floor and it is a long story that you probably can skip – and Benny (my then-brother-in-law-to-be-now-brother-in-law) was loading the 5th floor apartment with gifts.  I looked at the gifts in my wildest curiosity wondering what on the earth he was doing.  Well, according to one of the Chinese wedding etiquette, the groom’s family delivers the wedding gifts (過大禮 / 过大礼) to the bride’s family days (or weeks?!) before the actual wedding date.  In the old days, it was meant to be an elaborate event.  When the bride’s family receives the wedding gift mostly with items in pairs – plus a letter or a book itemizing the gifts (?! … lots of documentations in the old days) – another set of gifts will be returned as part of the tradition.  If you wonder why coconuts, chickens, and even a pair of shoes can be considered as wedding gifts alongside with the gold and jewelery, phonetically, these items mean only good things to the wedding couple.

In the modern day, this tradition is simplified.  As seen in the photos I have shared, I recall Benny did bring wine, fruit, cakes, abalones, and … lots of cash!  In Singapore dollar!  And my parents also returned a portion of the cash received to symbolize the tradition.  When I saw that, I was like … don’t, don’t … let me have it!

At times I wonder, what dilutes the local tradition?  I tend to look at the era of colonization with puzzlement.  One day I may write a blog entry about it.  Perhaps after this ambitious photo trip my friend Ken and I have been talking about for ages – local culture and tradition at a crossroad.

Photo Album: Family Photos in Hong Kong

Captured Moments of My Sister’s Wedding in Hong Kong (2008.12.28)

A Sample from My Personal Collection of My Sister's Wedding

Fortunately I was not the main wedding photographer.  What hard work it was!  With no control over light quality, background, and where everybody stands, I did the best I could.  And I did the best I could with my first dSLR camera that was less than 2 months old and my non-existing knowledge of Photoshop.  At times I am amused by the faith my little sister has in me.  I love my little sis.  I have been practicing hard, for this very moment.

Can’t wait to see the result?  Click here but please do come back.

I have been resisting to ‘photoshop’ my pictures for a long time until now.  Simply because I’d like to show the world what I can possibly do with my camera and my camera only.  Here is an analogy for you.  Showing you what could have done with my camera (to the point of no cropping) is like performing my music live to you.  The artwork is not perfect, it has its flaws, but (I hope) it has its charm, a sense of genuineness.

Most professionals do some forms of post production work on their photos.  Competitions allow that too.  Hence to me, admiring a moderately or heavily ‘photoshopped’ picture is like listening to a music album.  Perfectly finished and generally accepted.  Some cross the line and they have become more like a digital art to me.  No disrespect to those who are skilled in post production work, I personally enjoy playing my music live.  I.e. my photos as they are being shot (or could have been shot).  Having said that, after ‘photoshopped’ this little photo collection of mine, I do enjoy admiring the end result of this twenty odd pictures, out of 500.

It is surreal to think that my little sister is now married.  It seems like yesterday when I changed her diapers, when I was 4.  Now, here are the rest of my photo collection.

Related Link: Personal Photo Collection of My Sister’s Wedding (HK), What a Fruitful Year that Ends with a Bang: My Sister’s Wedding

What a Fruitful Year that Ends with a Bang: My Sister’s Wedding

My Happy Face at my Sister's Tea Ceremony

Out of over 7,000 photos taken with my barely 2 months old camera, if I could pick one picture as my Nikon moment, this is it.  Friends of mine perhaps rarely see this look of mine that is ecstatically happy.  And indeed I was and more, overwhelmed with emotion.  I passed my camera to my dad during the Tea Ceremony – a Chinese tradition to formally accept the wedding couple into the family – and after Cynthia and I have drank the long awaited, most expensive cups of tea offered by Lora and Benny, I was pointing at our wedding gift that I just put onto Lora’s wrist and asked the crowd if the diamond filled bracelet was beautiful.  Together with my mom and dad’s wedding gifts and more – each of them gave my sister a one carat diamond ring – an interesting comment was that our bride wore more diamond than gold on her wedding day.  If there is one thing Lora and I are in common, that would be our quest for quality and perfection.  You can imagine the unspoken minimum requirement of the color of the diamonds.  Note: From right to left: Benny, Lora, my mom, me, and the bridesmaid.

Uh-huh.  But Lora looked lovely on her wedding with the blink-blink.  That’s all that matters.

I am happy that my beloved little sister has found a good man, although by saying that I have found her a good man – as I know Benny before Lora does and partially because of me, they met – is not entirely untrue.  Either way, as a big brother, I am happy that my sister’s future is well taken care of, 24×7.  That is just lovely and I couldn’t be happier.

A Fruitful Year – A Reflection

It started with a small revelation of mine that I have shared with a few friends of mine.  I look back 10 years ago when I was younger and full of energy, how I wish I could have done much more.  Hence, I have decided that I don’t want to look back to where I am today, 10 years from now, and say the same thing.  I am a true believer of New Year Resolutions though I brand it more positively and call it a New Theme for the New Year.  The theme for year 2008 is “Do It” and not only have I not shy away from new opportunities, I have also proactively sourced for new things to do.

My band has finally performed live at The Hereen.  Having my music played in public is a dream came true, enough of talking about it for years.  My passion for writing has been elevated to a higher ground, with the advent of the Internet era that transforms my old hobby into something called blogging.  This year, I have reviewed a few books for McGraw-Hill, attended a few events from my favorite brands such as Nokia, HBO, and Intel, and I have participated the first ever blogger challenge by BRANDS (and Singapore team has won!).  Even without all these memorable blogger events and blessed opportunities, I would have continued to write the way I have always been.  Simply because writing has been my passion since young.

I have picked up a few new passions as well.  I reckon hobbies take 12 years to mature so I better start now.  I have picked up Spanish and with luck, I shall pass the exam and move onto level 3 next year.  And I have become serious on photography after pointing and shooting for decades.

I don’t usually talk about work here because it is simply, work.  Blogging is my hobby and these two seldom mix.  Personally satisfied with my career in the year of 2008, I look forward to season 2 of the game of survivor.  I have counted: more than 10,000 email messages I have received and sent in 2008.  My role as an electronic postman has surpassed my role as a coffee boy.  That much I can share.  And God knows how many emails will be in my mailbox when I am back from my 3 weeks compliance leave.

My Sister’s Wedding

So I was the direct wedding family member, Benny’s backup Best Man, and the backup wedding photographer.  One moment I was playing the role of a big brother at the Tea Ceremony, another moment I was chasing behind the bride on every step she took taking photographs; one moment I was the ring bearer and accompanied Benny to crash the gate, another moment I walked into the Church right behind Benny and as the service drew to an end, I quickly grabbed my camera from my Uncle and resumed my photographer’s hat.

The official wedding photographer took over 600 pictures that evening, I took close to 500, and we both took different things.  He used a Nikon D3 and since we both are Nikonians, we have immediately become good friends swapping cameras.  He shared some of the valuable tips and I put them to use immediately.  These tips, they work wonder.  And surprise, surprise, the videographer is from the old film days and my dad as an awarding winning photographer 4 decades ago, both of them conversed in names that I could only imagine as legends.  Maybe my dad was a legend too, I wouldn’t have known.  He seldom talks about the past.

I have not seen my dad in suit and tie and black shoes in my entire life before my sister’s wedding; I have seldom seen my parents so proud and happy as they mingled from tables to tables during the wedding dinner.  Now I truly believe that wedding dinner is indeed for the parents.  It has been a long time since I am moved to tears, as I did so at the Church.  My eyes went watery when I saw my sister in white wedding gown with my dad by her side.  Both sides of the parents broke into tears inside the Church including the wedding couple.  I could only deduce that when love is so strong, it moves those who connect.

What a joyful wedding, what a lovely way to end year 2008 with a bang.

A Happy New Year to my readers and thank you for your support over the years.  I will strive to write better in the year 2009 to come.  May your dreams come true too.

Related Entry: Captured Moments of My Sister’s Wedding in Hong Kong (2008.12.28)

So My Buddy Popped the Question … to My Sister

What an eventful week.  Just when I thought I could sit back and relax because I have written a whole week worth of blog entries, my best buddy in Singapore popped the question … to my little sister.  So time to dig up one of the old photos that my pa has recently digitalized and start writing.

I began today like every other day, happy and energized, and then my phone beeped.  I have one new message, from my sister.  That’s odd.  We are in excellent term, of course.  But we seldom communicate.  I opened up the message and she said Benny has proposed!

Wow!  I must have felt like I have won a million dollar lottery at that moment.

Flash back to my previous short visits to home in Hong Kong over many years, inside a low lit living room my ma and I sat opposite each other.  My pa was asleep in the bedroom with the door ajar.  Our dog rested comfortably on his bed looking curiously at us.  And I would start the conversation, like I always did, with “So, has sis hinted anything yet?”  My ma’s response varied but both of us would end up sighing, staring at space, and I would say, “Look ma, all in good time.”

Now, at least we don’t need to think of when my sister will be getting married.  Yay?

So I met up with Lora for dinner and I couldn’t wait to hear about our parents’ responses.  “I called this morning waking ma up from her dreamland,” she said.  “You did?” I asked.  “Yes, and she was initially happy, then she paused,” my sister paused.  “And?” I asked eagerly.  “Ma asked if I have said yes,” she continued.

Did my sister say yes?!

I laughed so hard.  OK.  I personally don’t think any response other than a yes would be possible.  And my sister would have had a lot of explanations to me had she even said maybe.  Seriously … ha ha ha.

Anyway, knowing how dramatic my family is, I was eager to hear my pa’s response.  “He was excited of course,” my sister said.  “Of course,” I replied.  “And he asked if the proposal was sincere,” she smiled.  “What is a sincere proposal?” I asked in puzzlement.

It is good that both of our parents are so supportive.  Being a big brother, my response was totally business-like.  After a business-like congratulations as though Lora has just won a million dollar deal, my action oriented nature kicked in.  So I advised, “You have to perform a stakeholder analysis, sis.”  “A stakeholder analysis?” my sister was awed.  Yes, we have to figure out what Benny’s parents’ expectations are like, what about our parents, what is the time line like, and budget, and have you started to think of the brothers and sisters team, who are the event organizers, are there going to be two wedding dinners in two different locations, formal versus informal, who will be there, Church wedding, which country will go first, outsource versus insource …

I bet Lora was amazed at what went inside my head.  But seriously, there is nothing to be amazed about.  Success is when preparation meets opportunity.  I have been dreaming of today for a long, long time.

Back to my pa’s response that got me puzzled, I called home after we reached home.  5 minutes had passed and he was just asking about me.  OK, did pa get it from my sister at all?  I didn’t want to be the first to break the news.  “So pa, Lora is getting married, are you happy?” I casually asked.  He replied, “She is not getting married.”  I paused, panicked, and continued, “Yes she is.  Hasn’t she told you this morning?”  “She is getting engaged,” my pa said it as-a-matter-of-fact.  “Pa?!” I screamed, “It’s the same!”  “Did she say yes?” he asked.  “Pa?!  Of course she said yes,” I laughed.  “Was the proposal sincere?” he queried.

Uh-huh?

“How would I know, pa?!” I genuinely didn’t know.  “Did he get on his knee when he proposed?” he asked.  “How would I know, pa?!” I genuinely didn’t know that either.  “What century are we in now?  People don’t do that anymore in real life,” I added.

Do we?  Maybe people do.  Maybe Benny did.

And as of this very moment, my ma is still outside partying and celebrating so I have yet to speak with her on the phone.  Anyways, many congratulations to my beloved little sister and my best buddy Benny.  Stay tuned.