Stop Saying I’m Lucky To Have Married My Husband – I’m Not

“Your husband is so nice to you. You’re soooo lucky!”

This must be the most common comment I’ve heard and if I get a dollar for every time I hear this, I’ll be very, very rich. (Pardon the cliched analogy.)

This comment frequently comes up when we talk about my cancer ordeal. Many people commended Keith for sticking by me while I’m going through the toughest time of my life one month into our marriage. And they said I was lucky that I had married someone who didn’t leave me in times of trouble.

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To set the record straight, I think I have a wonderful husband…

I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. I love him dearly, and he loves me back, and I know there’s no one else better than him to fill the role of “Mr. Right” in my life. This being said, I don’t attribute marrying him or what he’s done for me to “luck”.

Winning the lucky draw? Yes, that’s luck.
Walking one step ahead before the bird decided to poop at where you were standing? Luck.
Catching the bus although you were late because the bus was also late? Yes, luck!

But marrying Keith? No, not luck.

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Keith and I were colleagues for some time before we started dating. And while we were colleagues, there were many things about him that stood out to me. First of all, he’s the Mr. Nice Guy that got along with everyone, never played politics, and was always helpful and enthusiastic. He’s also meticulous, a keen and fast learner, extremely humble, and had a shrewd business acumen. While we weren’t romantically involved when I noticed these traits, I think they set the right stage for our impending relationship. It is important for me to be with someone that I could look up to, and that I could respect.

I have dated many guys (non-exclusively) before I dated Keith. And I think I’ve met enough people to know it when it “clicked”. Very quickly during the courtship, I could tell that Keith was someone who is very serious about his relationship when he gets into one. He was very interested to know more about me, about my values, and what I was really like. I was serious too. So we asked a lot of right questions during courtship, even before we were dating exclusively.

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The Catholic Marriage Preparation Course that we attended helped us a lot too. While a lot of people go for the course only when wedding plans have already been made (you need the course certificate to book a church wedding), we made the conscious decision to attend it even before he proposed. To us, it was a “marriage preparation” course after all, so we wanted to make sure we have discerned properly, know that we are both prepared spiritually, before we even make any wedding plans. Keith proposed shortly after we finished the course, and I said yes without hesitation. It was a simple decision because the course and the time spent dating him had helped me recognise that he had the traits that I wanted in a husband: rational, dependable, loyal, forgiving.

What he’s “done” are part of our vows

The Catholic wedding vow is beautiful because while it’s succinct, it encompasses everything that a marriage should be: I, (name), take you, (name) to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honour you, all the days of my life.

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“Not leaving me” while I was sick is really just basic 101 for fulfilling his vows. In fact, he has vowed to be “true to me” and to “love and honour me” no matter what. This is what a Christian marriage is about: it is a reflection of Christ’s love for His church, the husband represents Jesus in the marriage, and the wife, the church. Will Jesus ever leave the church even when she’s “sick”? Of course not. He will continue to love her, perhaps love her even more. Keith is called to uphold this high standard of Christian marriage life. It’s in our vows. (The wife has her part to play in Christian marriage too, but that’s a story for another day.)

And very fortunately or perhaps, unfortunately (pun unintended), it’s a vow that we have to make a conscious decision to say yes to every single day. Sometimes we may forget that love is not an adjective, it’s a verb. This means that you need to put love into action for love to happen.

So I’m saying again, I’m not “lucky” to have married Keith…

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…because marrying him was a choice that I made. And I discerned very thoroughly before I said yes to marrying him. It’s not luck, because it was a calculated, well-considered decision. And it’s not “luck” because what Keith has done – and he would also agree to this – is what he has vowed to do before God, me, and our loved ones. And as the man of integrity and honour that I know him to be, I know he will keep his vows.

 

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7 Things I Didn’t Expect About Being Married

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1. I was lonelier than before

When I was staying with my parents, I’ll get home from work at 7pm, have dinner with my family (my parents and brother) and spend the rest of the evening watching TV and laughing over the programmes. The house is always vibrant, filled with noises from the TV set, chatters and laughters.

And then I got married and moved into our new house.

Keith doesn’t finish work at the same time as me. In the first month of our marriage, he typically finishes work at 9pm and gets home at about 10pm.

My evening became this: Take a bus home, have dinner alone at the food court near the estate, shower when I get home, turn on the TV and feel super lonely because there’s no one to laugh with me. By the time he got home, showered and caught up with his social media feeds, it was already bed time.

I was quite depressed in the first month of our marriage because I constantly felt lonely. Plus, I was “homesick”, I missed my family a lot.

Thankfully, we’ve resolved this issue in the last few months, so it’s all good now 🙂

2. We don’t “spend time” all the time

Even when we are both at home, we may not always be interacting. We may be at a different part of our house, doing our own things.

3. “Dates” don’t come naturally

You’d think that staying together means it’ll be easy to go on “dates”. It won’t happen unless you set a time for it. Somehow, we have so many commitments: our friends, doing housework, and visiting our parents regularly. In the end, we realise we didn’t make time for each other. Now, we set Friday nights as our “sacred” date nights. We aren’t supposed to do anything else besides spending time as a couple.

4. We argue over trivial day-to-day things

Before getting married, I often thought that the stereotype of how married couples quarrel over whether to dispense the toothpaste from the middle of the tube or from the end of it, and also about the man leaving the toilet seat up, was ridiculous. Who cares for such things?! Well, we didn’t quarrel over these things specifically, because they’re indeed ridiculous, but Keith whines about my face-washing habit because I tend to get some water onto the mirror. Please tell him he’s being ridiculous 😉

5. He takes over my parents’ role. Kinda.

I thought I no longer need to put up with nags after I moved out. But boy, does my husband nag at me (sometimes). In a “parent-ly” tone.

6. There’s never-ending housework to be done

I’ve been very lucky that my mum is the one who does most of the housework when I was staying with them. But my new place isn’t big and I thought that we’ll be fine spending a few hours every weekend doing housework. I eventually realise that consistency is the key to keeping the house in a pristine state. This means there’s a need to do small chores as often as you can, or you’ll need to launch a very tiring spring-cleaning project frequently.

7. Life is still a routine

This is especially when I moved back again after going into remission. I really thought we could start doing fun projects together, plan trips and visit hipster cafes, but seriously, in between work, Daily Vanity, household chores, church and family obligations, what I can say is “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I finally understand why all fairytales simply end with “and they lived happily ever after”, because there’s not much of a story to tell thereafter, and if there is any, it’s not quite a fairytale.

All these being said, I’m very happily married, in case you thought otherwise. Because I know that we are the kind who will work towards making each other happier.

 

In sickness, and in health

There’s something about the marriage vows that are exchanged at a Catholic wedding. I feel that it’s so profound yet complete, that there’s no word I want to add to or omit from it. And it never fails to touch me at every Catholic wedding I attended, including my own. It goes like this:

I,  (name), take you, (spouse’s name), to be my wife/husband, I promise to be true to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love and honour you all the days of my life.

The priest who prepared us for our wedding and celebrated it was Fr. Stephen Yim and he reminded us to look at each other (instead of the booklet with the vows printed on it) because we are, after all, saying the vow to each other. I made it a point to memorise it.

Of course, I meant it with all my heart when I uttered those words; I’m sure Keith did too. But little would I have expected us to live out those vows in the most trying manner, just one month after our wedding.

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From cough to cancer

I’ve been nursing a dry cough for the longest time. If I’m not wrong, it started about two weeks before my wedding. By my wedding, I couldn’t speak properly without coughing between sentences, and also was unable to sing the full song that I wanted as a surprise for Keith during our wedding dinner.

Exactly one month after our wedding, after a scary vision I had in church (whilst praying, I saw an image of thorns growing rapidly on my right lung, destroying everything in its way), I decided that I would admit myself through A&E to get an X-ray done. By then, I had been been coughing for 1.5 months, and having some chest pains (although the GPs that I’ve visited suggested there’s nothing to worry about).

To cut the long story short, I was admitted into hospital and within a few days, I was diagnosed with Stage 3.5 lymphoma. That’s cancer, by the way. It was a tumour that grew on my right lung – the exact location and shape that I saw in my vision.

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I could have died

Everything happened really quickly. Thanks to the grace of God, I actually took it well, and bravely made tough decisions to save my own life. It’s still amazing to me how I was able to be so logical despite the storm that was brewing in my life.

But what’s amazing about this was the people who stood firmly and supported me during this ordeal. Without giving my parents and brother any less credit, I must say that I was very amazed by Keith’s tenacity during this period. Y’know, because we are not blood-related, unlike my family and I?

We didn’t date for a long time. We were only married for one month. He should be afraid, and he could run away.

I suggested to him an annulment. He didn’t sign up for this, I told him. The battle ahead was going to be really tough. There was a chance that I might die. The tumour was huge: at 9×10 cm. And it was aggressive and fast-growing. As such, the treatment was going to be aggressive. I had to spend a lot of time in the hospital for chemotherapy.

I would lose my hair, brows and lashes. My body would get a lot weaker because chemotherapy destroys the good cells too. We would have to spend a lot of money to get me treated. And even after all these, there was still a chance that I might die.

And if I didn’t make it, I wanted him to be able to marry someone in the future in a “clean slate” and that’s possible if we annulled our marriage. At the same time, even if I made it, I wanted him to have the chance to “opt out” of the tough journey ahead. There are going to be struggles that “normal” couples don’t have to go through even after I finish chemotherapy and am in remission. He had to be aware of this and he had to know he will be taking on additional responsibilities.

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In sickness, and in health

Thankfully, my husband chose to stand by the vows he made to me and God. And I never stopped feeling grateful about it. With tremendous support from my family, him and a group of awesome friends, I was able to weather through the storm with lots of courage, grace and joy – yes, joy!

And one day, while praying and feeling bad about putting my loved ones through this ordeal with me, I heard God telling me not to feel bad. Because when we vowed to love and honour each other “in sickness and in health”, it wasn’t just about the healthy spouse sticking to the sick one, but also for the sick one to continue to love the healthy spouse despite her pains.

It’s true that it’s harder to love and be nice when you’re very sick. I made it my personal goal to not throw tantrum at anyone who cared for me just because I was in pain. I think I did well.

Keith may not be the most meticulous person and he blamed himself for not realising I was having fever for an entire day from neutropenia (where a part of white blood cells fall to abnormally low rates). This could have cost my life.

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But he is awesome in many, many ways: shaving his hair off as a sign of support for me, taking care of all my administrative matters while I was sick, spending nights with me at the hospital sleeping on the uncomfortable couch, praying with me, accompanying me to medical appointments, and generally being my pillar of strength in the toughest and most painful period of my life. I’d imagine that’s what God wanted Adam and Eve do for each other: to be each other’s companion and helper.

Someone asked me after I was hospitalised if we had gone to a fortune-teller to get an auspicious date for our wedding based on our eight characters. We didn’t. “Maybe that’s why you’re sick right after you’re married, perhaps your eight characters clashed,” I was told.

I don’t know what others think, and I really don’t care what they thought. If eight characters really mattered, then Keith and I must have the most compatible ones, because he complemented me perfectly. And no matter how I looked at this ordeal, I see it as a blessing. Who else could confidently say that her husband was going love her even when she’s sick and ugly (or bald, like me)?

I can, because, he did.

We Don’t Go Out Anymore!

Keith and I have set Fridays as “date nights”. Every Friday, we are supposed to spend time together, without doing work or household chores.

I was expecting us to do this:

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In other words, hang out, eat, laugh out loud.

But in reality, this is what Fri-dates are looking like:

DVDs

After having dinner, we end up in front of the TV, watching Bluray DVDs.

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I’m not complaining, though. Because watching DVDs at home is wayyyy better than hitting the cinemas, at least to me.

1. I get to watch movies from my super comfy sofa, an experience that you can only get if you pay for a pricier ticket at the cinema.

2. I can do movie marathons if I wish. I can have any snacks and foods I wish to have while watching the movie.

3. I can pause the movie if I wish to go to the toilet or get more snacks.

4. No annoying people who can’t stop talking or can’t turn off their phones.

5. And finally, I can talk as loudly as I wish, discussing about the storyline.

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What’s more, at home, I can enjoy a very similar cinematic experience, thanks to my new Pioneer Home Entertainment System, which was my wedding/house-warming gift from Pioneer.

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We took a video of how it sounds. It’s a lot better in real life, of course. This clip is from Tron.

And thanks to the woofer that comes with the system, I can literally “feel” the cannons from Les Miserables and gun shots from Taken 2.

 

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This is why I don’t mind staying home for Fri-dates.

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I’m planning to rent the entire eight films from the Harry Potter franchise and watch them over a few days. Maybe we should do it over the Chinese New Year holidays.

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No need to go out anymore. Heh heh.

Pioneer VSX-924-K AV Receiver Review – The Home Entertainment System You Need!

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Most guys I know are audiophiles. They love their audio so much that they have no qualms in buying a good-grade earpiece or headphone (think Beats by Dre), and may even have purchased Spotify premium just to listen to high-quality music.

I’m quite the opposite of most guys. I like to jog without any musical distraction and most of the time I will only listen to music from the radio when I’m in a car.

When we moved into our new home, Pioneer offered us the chance to try out their home entertainment system. Juliet and I thought of it for a long time trying to weigh out several factors. Because we seriously do not want to have a white elephant that collects dust.

  1. Will we really spend so much time in front of the TV?
  2. Space constraint in the house!
  3. Is it a need or a luxury?

I’ll talk a little more about these 3 points later on.

About the Pioneer VSX-924-K AV Receiver

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We had 5 speakers which were sufficient to create the surround sound effect you always experience in the cinemas.

1 sound bar speaker is placed right in front of the sofa with 2 others erected at the “North-west” and “North-east” direction. The other 2 were installed almost parallel on both sides of the sofa.

We paid $600 to get the professionals in to help us install and set up the home entertainment system. We could have simply installed it ourselves but we reckoned the experts will help us configure it to the best way for the best possible experience.

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One of the things I’m impressed with is the way the sound sync-ing process is being done. The system comes with a device which helps configure how fast the sound wave will travel and “hit” your ears. Due to the varied distance between all 5 speakers to the position of where we will be sitting at the sofa, some of the speakers may deliberately lag the release of the sound just so it will reach your ears at the right time for you to have a better experience.

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The AV receiver. The device which makes audiophiles feel high.

 

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The Blu-ray DVD player.

 

 

Lost your remote control? Or maybe you just want to control it from your handphone?

There’s an app for it! You can control the volume and many other things!

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Works fantastic with Blu-ray DVD

To experience true surround sound system like the cinemas, you will need to watch your movies in Blu-ray DVDs as they contain all the sound data required to give you a similar experience.

Switch on the woofer and you will hear the sound of explosions and feel the vibration like how you would in the cinemas!

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Sometimes we use the woofer as a “coffee table” to place our drinks nearer to us

 

Imagine a scene in which people are literally speaking behind the actor’s back. Instead of hearing the sound from the front speaker, you will hear it from the back as if you were the actor.

Works great even without playing from a Blu-ray DVD

The front sound bar.

The front sound bar.

We watch many drama and documentary shows on cable and thankfully for the various sound modes the Pioneer home entertainment system have pre-set, we are able to toggle through them depending on what kind of show it is. The modes will try to replicate the same experience even though the TV does not have the sound data required. So modes like Sports, Classical, Drama, etc will try to artificially create a similar experience you would otherwise have experienced on a Blu-ray DVD.

So back to the 3 points we were weighing out…

#1 Will we really spend so much time in front of the TV?

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While we were buying furniture and electronics for our house, we thought we will spend very little time on watching TV thus we didn’t invest in a very good TV. We got a respectable 47 inch Smart LED TV which cost us a low $1,000.

After we both moved in, we realised we have been watching a lot more TV shows than expected! We loved channels like Discovery, History, Criminal Investigation, Comedy Central, etc.

So because of this unexpected consumption behaviour, a better viewing experience would have been great!

#2 Space constraint in the house!

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It’s a real issue in Singapore these days. New houses seem so small as compared to the older ones even though the metric space is almost the same (probably due to the layout).

We could have chosen the 5 speakers to be the big standee kind but thankfully Pioneer has got those small satellite pieces which still pack a punch.

Space constraint wasn’t an issue anymore.

#3 Is it a need or a luxury?

It’s definitely a luxury. But we soon realised our TV viewing experience wasn’t the same without it. It feels like something is missing when we don’t switch it on.

 

 

101 Songs For Your Wedding Playlist

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Photo credit

From my experience as a wedding singer and emcee, I’ve came across many popular wedding songs that really shouldn’t be on the playlist, which inspired this article.

To help those planning their weddings, here are 101 songs that are great for your special day (those that I’ve chosen for my wedding are in blue) and I’ve also included YouTube playlists of the songs I’ve mentioned so you could listen to them:

      1. I do (cherish you) – 98 degrees
      2. Thank God I found you – 98 degrees and Mariah Carey
      3. Everyday I love you – Boyzone
      4. The way you look tonight – Michael Buble
      5. Just the way you are – Bruno Mars
      6. Angels brought me here – Guy Sebastian
      7. My Valentine – Martina McBride
      8. Beautiful in white – Westlife
      9. (God must have spent) A little more time on you – ‘N Sync
      10. My everything – 98 degrees
      11. I love the way you love me – Boyzone
      12. From this moment on – Shania Twain
      13. I swear – All 4 One
      14. So much in love – All 4 One
      15. Now & Forever – Richard Marx
      16. I knew I loved you – Savage Garden
      17. Truly, madly, deeply – Savage Garden
      18. Because you loved me – Celine Dion
      19. Lucky – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
      20. Two words – Lea Salonga
      21. Marry me – Train
      22. All my life – K-Ci & JoJo
      23. Baby I’m yours – Arctic Monkeys
      24. You and me – Olivia Ong
      25. All of me – John Legend
      26. How long will I love you – Ellie Goulding
      27. XO – Beyonce
      28. If I ain’t got you – Alicia Keys
      29. I choose you – Sara Bareilles
      30. More than words – Extreme
      31. Adore you – Miley Cyrus
      32. Me and you – Kenny Chesney

        Disney
      33. I see the light – Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi
      34. A whole new world – Brad Kane & Lea Salonga
      35. At the beginning – Richard Marx & Donna Lewis
      36. When you wish upon a star – Cliff Edwards
      37. Love is an open door – Kristen Bell & Santino Fontana

        Classic (many of them have modern covers)
      38. Put your head on my shoulder – Paul Anka
      39. We’ve only just begun – The Carpenters
      40. Love me tender – Elvis Presley
      41. Nothing’s gonna change my love for you – Glenn Medeiros
      42. Longer – Dan Forgelberg
      43. Pretty world – Sergio Mendes 
      44. I can’t smile without you -Barry Manilow
      45. Just the way you are – Billy Joel
      46. Fallen – Lauren Wood
      47. It’s crazy – Laura Fygi
      48. Fly me to the moon – Frank Sinatra
      49. Close to you – The Carpenters
      50. Inseparable – Natalie Cole
      51. Tonight I celebrate my love – Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack
      52. L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole
      53. Can’t take my eyes off you – Lauryn Hill
      54. This will be (an everlasting love) – Natalie Cole
      55. Can’t help falling in love – Elvis Presley
      56. Happy together – Turtles
      57. All you need is love – The Beatles
      58. You’re my first, my last, my everything – Barry White
      59. Your song – Elton John
        Chinese
      60. 可乐戒指 – 梁静茹
      61. 我是幸福的 – 梁静茹
      62. 至少还有你 – 林忆莲
      63. 爱是永恒- 张学友
      64. 不可思议 – 金莎
      65. 在我生命中的每一天 – 成龙 & 苏慧伦
      66. 小夫妻 – 蔡淳佳 & 欧得洋
      67. 水晶 – 任贤齐 & 徐怀钰
      68. Forever Love – 王力宏
      69. 最重要的決定 – 范玮琪
      70. 一比一 – 范玮琪
      71. I wanna be with you – 徐婕兒
      72. 最浪漫的事 – 赵咏华
      73. 恋爱频率 – 许慧欣 & 许志安
      74. 爱你 – Kimberley Chen*
      75. 妳的名字我的姓氏 – 张学友
      76. 每天爱你多一些 – 张学友
      77. 就是爱你 – 陶喆
      78. 爱很简单 – 陶喆
      79. 喜欢你 – 陈洁仪
      80. 把你藏起来 – 杜德伟
      81. 简单爱 – 周杰伦
      82. 爱的就是你 – 王力宏
      83. 爱你让我勇敢 – 苏慧伦 & 杜德伟
      84. 只有为你 – 庾澄庆
      85. 只牵你的手 – 李玖哲
      86. 暖心 – 郁可唯
        Upbeat
      87. Our song – Taylor Swift
      88. Just the way you are – Bruno Mars
      89. Marry me – Jason Derulo
      90. Everything – Michael Buble
      91. I’m yours – Jason Mraz
      92. Kiss me – Sixpence none the richer
      93. A perfect love – Trisha Yearwood
      94. I do – Colbie Calliat
      95. Love is easy – McFly
      96. Best day of my life – American Authors
      97. Still into you – Paramore
      98. 今天你要嫁給我 – 陶喆 & 蔡依林
      99. 小手拉大手 – 梁靜茹
      100. 你的微笑 – F.I.R
      101. 喜欢 – 古巨基

*I sang this song for my husband during dinner 🙂

Wedding Dinner At Moevenpick Heritage Hotel: See My Programme Lineup

My wedding is a long event. We started off with gatecrashing, tea ceremony at his house, church wedding, lunch reception, photoshoot at the church, tea ceremony at the hotel for my elders, and then dinner.

Our dinner venue was Moevenpick Heritage Hotel, which was the first hotel that we went to see and I quickly fell in love with it.

Here’s my bridesmaid helping me with the necklace my mother-in-law gave me during tea ceremony, which I wore with my evening outfits.

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The theme for our dinner was journey, and each table was named after a country (instead of a number). With the help of Ling, one of my bridesmaids, we did up this “flight” seating plan, where we indicated which table each guest is seated at. This is left at the entrance even after the reception team has went into the ballroom so that late-comers can quickly find out where they’re seated without any help.

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We chose an elegant setup for our ballroom. The ballroom can accommodate up to 15 tables (minimum of 12) and we had 14. I wanted to make sure we kept it at an even number so that the setup will be such that the aisle on which we march in will be straight.

 

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We placed a handwritten card on each seat. On the front is our hashtag (#MarryTohDay) together with a quote related to “journey”. And on the other side, a trivia about the country you’re seated at. You have to guess if the trivia is true or false, a turn over a flap to find out the correct answer. We wanted to do this to occupy our guests when they wait for the banquet to start, and hopefully can be used as a form of ice-breaker (because all the trivia were different, they could ask what each guest at their table received).

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After the first march-in (our first march-in song was Everyday I love you, which Keith sang when he proposed to me), Keith and I went up on stage to welcome our guests. At most weddings, the couple may not talk until it’s time for the speech (some don’t even give one), but we really wanted to address our guests at the start of the dinner because we’re the hosts and they’re all present for us.

Then, we played a video that we engaged a company to do, which told the story of how we met and fell in love.

Dinner was presented, and while the guests ate the first dish, we played our proposal video so they could eat and watch it (if they wish) at the same time.

Keith and I then walked around the tables to mingle with our friends and relatives.

 

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We skipped the cake-cutting ceremony because I find it very, very silly to cut a styrofoam cake. We also didn’t do any childhood montage because we find it cliched and cheesy.

We didn’t get to mingle for too long and had to get changed for our second march-in (the song for this was Marry me by Jason Derulo).

 

 

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The morning highlights video was played after we marched in so we could watch it.

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This was followed by the popping of champagne. If you’re wondering why I was pointing upwards, looking all excited, it was because the cork went through the “hoop” of the projector, and I thought it was amazing.

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The toast done and my bridesmaids and groomsmen all came up on stage to say something. (We actually wanted just a representative each from the bridesmaids and groomsmen, but they decided to do it together. #team)

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And then it was our speeches. Mine was after Keith’s and I surprised him with a song. (爱你 by Kimberley)

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Thankfully, the guests liked my singing.

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And that’s it!

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It was indeed a long and tiring day.

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But thanks to my amazing bridal party, I had lots of fun and also now have a set of beautiful memories. Read more about my wedding here.

 

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