I recall it was in May 2019 when she texted me a message to ask Su and I to mark our diary for her wedding on 12 December 2020, more than 18 months away. She told us she had found her Mr. Right. This is one of the HKU mentees I have met over the years who has continued to stay on my radar all these years through thick and thin; and she would make it a point to pay us a visit at Chinese New Year to say hello, like a good daughter would. We like her very much and has always taken her as a daughter. In similar fashion, she would be the third daughter we have seen married in as many years. But this wedding is somewhat different, because of the time and circumstances.
She had booked the hotel in Wan Chai North for her wedding and banquet even before the hotel was completed. In the meantime, she and her Mr. Right have been going places, to Maldives, Taiwan, UK and Europe, taking wedding photos; and they also bought a flat, before the coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic, which was just as good, for they wouldn’t be able to go on their honeymoon travels now. By the time they began to distribute their official wedding invitations, which was early October 2020, the social distancing rule was six persons per table and 50 for a wedding ceremony; and she saw it fit to seek confirmation for our attendance, to which we promptly said yes. But then the pandemic situation got worse, so that by the time the wedding invite actually got to our hands, the rule had changed to four per table, with reduced maximum capacities for a sitting at a banquet; and then a week before the wedding, further reduced to two per table with maximum attendance at banquets reduced to 20 per sitting, and worst, no food after 6pm.
It was a test of ingenuity, EQ and resourcefulness on the part of the bride and groom, their parents and close friends, and of the hotel management. The one ceremony and banquet scheduled for 12 December became four sittings of 20 each – a lunch from 12:30 to 2:30pm and a reception from 4 to 6pm on 12 December, followed by a repeat of the same on 13 December. We were invited to join the lunch on 13 December, which was yesterday and which we did.
They have booked the main and primary ballroom in the hotel, which is on the 6th floor. The hospitality staff of the hotel were extremely helpful and had tried their best to pamper their guests – there wouldn’t be that many to start with and in any case. The bride had asked us to arrive slightly earlier, to have some photos taken at leisure, which we did. They had laid out a grand photo taking backdrop with simple but elegant floral arrangements. I had a few photos taken with the bride and had more with Su and the new couple. I felt like marrying away another daughter, but even before I had that mental formation articulated, the bride had actually spoken to us in those terms as she and Mr. Right thanked us profusely for looking after her all these years. It was somewhat moving. The HKU mentorship scheme has certainly done something good.
We found out that we were to be seated on one of the three tables without red table cloth. The other seven were marked HT or head tables. The ten tables of two each appeared like toys in a huge room that can easily and comfortably hold 40 if not 50 tables of ten. It was like a small boy walking into an almost empty but brightly lit room, with high ceiling, great acoustics and good PA and audio visual backup. The bride had also hired a live band with three singers – singing one at a time – and three musicians, who performed at another room on the same floor with live-feed to the banquet room. The banquet began on time, well almost, with the bride and groom marching in to the applause of the guests, but not before the guests had watched a short video on the stories of the bride and groom. A young man emceed the short and sweet proceedings, complete with a short introduction, short speeches, toasts of and by bride and groom, the obligatory and exaggerated long kiss, and cake cutting, all conducted professionally in record short time.
The food and wine were both good, and service was superb. The waiters served every course individually and the food was hot and delicious. The bride had said before the meal that she intended to have every course, which she did; and she texted us WhatsApp messages throughout the banquet and asked us to select tunes and songs for the band. The official photographers took pictures throughout; but the bride and groom had an easy time, not being required to toast to and walk to each table for photo taking and to change clothes mid-way as would be mandatory in a normal wedding banquet. Somewhere in the process, the bride actually said that she was beginning to enjoy the process. She also promised to call us up the following week, which would be this week, for the hospitality of Su’s Kitchen. We would see. The banquet finished on time; as we prepared to go for our next appointment, but that would be another story.
I hope to talk to you again latter.