For Hong Kong wedding dinner, there are mahjong sessions prior to the actual dinner. Though the time may state 8pm, the dinner may start at around 10pm. (A “no-no” for Singapore’s wedding…normally we will complain it to be very late if the dinner starts at 8.30pm)
Guets may turn up as early as 6pm to play a few rounds of mahjong and it is common to see at least 6 tables of mahjong tables…the room becomes a mini-casino…:p If you don’t intend to play mahjong, it is safe to be there at about 8.30pm or 9pm.
But don’t be there later than 9pm because all guests have to take a mandatory photo-taking before the wedding dinner starts. Mandatory means COMPULSORY!!! (Very different from Singapore…which has picture taken from table to table. No wonder my future mother-in-law (FMIL) kept insisting a photo must be taken) All will take a photo under the “double-happiness” sign in the restaurant.
After taking the photos for everyone,?the waiters clear the mahjong tables and set the round tables for the banquet. ( In Singapore, round tables are laid as early as 6pm and the necessary decor done by 7pm)
The feast starts with:
1. a roast suckling pig (a symbol of the bride?s virginity)
2. shark fins soup
5.?chicken or duck, and other dishes.
6. It ends with noodles and glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves.
7. Sweet red bean soup (for its lucky color) and
8. sweet buns follow up as desserts.
Although you may be starving at that late hour, you still have to wait for someone in your table to offer a token toast. Before starting each course, a toast is first made among those in the same table. (Singaporeans will drink up first…thirsty la…plus lots of chitchat and gossip going round) By that late hour, the waiters and the kitchen staff are rushing in the food, course after course. So don?t take your food too slowly, otherwise, the waiter will remove the dish before you have a chance to taste it.
After four or five courses, make sure that your glass is not empty for the toast. (In Singapore, it is still ok…just ask for a refill from the waitress who is allocated to serve one or two tables) The newly-wed, together with their parents and elder siblings, will be roaming around to offer toasts.
The bride wears all the weighty jewelry and flashing diamonds and changes a minimum of two to three wardrobes. (In Singapore, again bride doesn’t wear the weighty jewelry…very inconvenient…plus it doesn’t suit the pretty gown that the bride is wearing)
In less than an hour, the party is over as the guests join the long queue to thank the hosts. In their usual renowned Hong Kong efficiency, the restaurant is emptied within 15 minutes.
Learning point: I’m experiencing culture clashes and expectations from my FMIL who may in some sense, driving us insane…sigh…
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