Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Family Wedding

Wedding Photo, 1923
Originally uploaded by Taking5
My grandaunt's wedding, in 1923.  She was my grandfather's older sister.  My grandfather was the best man and is standing in the back row, on the left. The flower girls are their younger sister (on the right) and another young relative.  The older couple were the sponsors of the bride and groom.

Besides this group photo, there would be photos of just the couple. They would send a small copy of the photo to their friends and relatives. My grandaunt and her husband received quite a few of these photos, including one for a certain Mr and Mrs Lee Chin Koon...

It is difficult to find a description of Eurasian weddings of the 1920s.
But a more contemporary record can be found in "Singapore Eurasians- Memories and Hopes" (ed. Myrna Braga-Blake) :

"Weddings were Saturday morning affairs with the Mass followed by a cake and wine reception. Curry puffs, sausage rolls, cream puffs, sambal and ham sandwiches were also served. The wedding cake was specially ordered and it would, at one time, havecome from "Ah Teng" in Victoria Street and later from "Cona's" in Katong - bakeries famous for sugee cake...
According to my mother, the typical way to ask an engaged couple whether they had set a date: "When is your cake and wine?"
"A wedding gift had to be something useful for the couple. Though a couple often ended up with five irons, six toasters and lots of Pyrex dishes, they were all graciously accepted. It was not considered in good taste to give money, though tooday the more practical acccept monetary gifts... ... it was also expected that the bride wrote a personal note of thanks to everyone. Even today, a little thing like a personal handwritten note of thanks is a hallmark of Eurasian etiquette."
Indeed, our cupboard used to hold numerous tea sets which my mother received as wedding gifts.

"The wedding reception was a joyous occasion for speech making, toasting and good-natured teasing... ... The traditional song at weddings was "Jinggelly Nona" - a dance in which all, both old and young, would join in.
The reception ended with the bridal couple leaving amidst the clouds of confetti thrown at them."
My earliest recollection of a Eurasian wedding was my uncle's.  My cousin and I were the two flower girls walking in front of them into the church bearing our little bouquets proudly, just happy to be in all the photos.  I remember the confetti.  I think we helped to distribute it.  These days, most churches/ restaurants don't encourage confetti because of the mess it leaves behind. 

For more on Eurasian weddings, read here.


  1. Thanks for sharing such a lovely page in your family history KG!
    I can so identify with a lot of what you wrote about.I had a good giggle about the classic Pyrex dishes as wedding presents(in the 60/70s I guess)LOL!I think every Eurasian household must have them still in use or tucked away somewhere in the almerah.
    My memories date to the late 70s.Oh how we loved the Jinggely Nona tune that the band belted out at the peak of the wedding!I recall how almost everyone jumped out of their chairs to get down on it!My Aunties would take their hankerchiefs out of the side of their bras & jiggle with them during the dance.My Father would carry me in his arms and dance even as the tempo picked up speed to the finalé.
    I too was flower girl twice but my dearly missed late brother was a regular & popular page boy in the late 60s as he was the only around at the time of the right age.I know he hated it and felt so embaressed but the envelope containing the token $5 made up for it LOL!There are many photos of him in the old biscuit tin boxes at various weddings holding the same sheperd-boy's stick everytime.Later on he used to joke how that darn sheperd-boy's stick walked up more church ailes than he had girlfriends LOL!
    I have no idea about Eurasian weddings circa 1920s but I'm sure a lot of its tradition & discrete superstition have been handed down to the present generation.I feel the Eurasian culture is a rather tight knit one.There are things and habits we just cannot let go.I left S'pore 22 years ago but my heart is still eating that custard puff at Chin Mee Chin after Sunday Mass at HFC :)

  2. Dear Jean,
    Thanks for your warm and generous comment. Yes, I walk past Chin Mee Chin every Sunday but I must admit I buy either the kueh kueh at Katong Antique House or the Vadei at Carlton Restaurant across the road. Chin Mee Chin unfortunately is so crowded Sunday mornings that it is hard to get into!

  3. I'm afraid I don't get Jean's references to shepard-boy sticks and biscuit tin boxes. Sounds interesting but I'm neither Eurasian nor Catholic so I guess I haven't come across those before.



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