The Migraine of Every Wedding

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The past weeks have been busy and crazy.. Scouring for caterers to fit our theme and menus. Especially if you are not the kind to be efficient in information retrieval at the last minutes. Considering that we decided to get married in 6 months (then was in March), now we’re left with about 4 months. Finding a caterer around this timeline means one cannot be too picky.

Point to note: This is where the bulk of your savings goes to. (Unless your parents set up a wedding fund for you. Don’t laugh, some of my friends’ parents did it for them.) And also the migraine of every wedding.

As our reception is a little twist from the typical Malay wedding reception, it was quite hard finding the right caterer. I took notes of the caterers names when I attend wedding functions. But I feel that it’s quite useless now that time and budget is not a luxury for us. I mean, names like Farzana, Puteri and Charisma are usually fully booked. Another thing we faced was the caterers we inquired with, cannot change their package! Some couples want hassle free all in package. Ok fine. But there are others who probably want some things here and there. We have a little DIYs and 2 different menus to cater to different social circles, namely our families and relatives and friends and colleagues.

I was adamant and stood my ground. The me that anyone know probably would not mind going with what’s best. But I felt that this time, I needed to say what I needed to say. I stood my ground on the reasons why our initial plan should stay as is. Besides, I am very sure that this 2-menus reception can be done. I have faith in the caterers but sadly, being typical Melayu, either they’re not very keen on the idea (most caterers said it’s very troublesome when buying the ingredients whereas others just quoted “pricey like it’s 2 different receptions”.). I became almost hopeless. I cannot imagine the super long queue for food and the kendarats having to keep topping up food. I cannot imagine people becoming flustered and annoyed. I cannot imagine myself not being happy when others are not.

For awhile, I gave up looking for anymore. I had found some halal caterers like those that serve during contact times and school events. Food will taste A-okay and probably some, like NS food. Yup, I resorted to that. I had wanted to support our Malay community caterers but look, with those kinda remarks like “leceh”.. “dah macam 2 majlis..”. I just cannot. But I guess, God loves us. He heard our pleas and answered our prayers. We found one, a family friend, who offered to cater for our wedding. A bit of my migraine went away when the caterer said she could do with 2 different menus. THAT WAS SUCH A RELIEF! 

I know it can be done. If once a upon a time in the early millennium, some weddings had a small lunch reception after the solemnization the later at night followed by dinner, I do not see why my 2 menus seemed “leceh” to some. We foresee a lot of guests yet we do not want to compromise on food, therefore we thought having 2 menus is a good idea. After last night’s meet up with the caterer at our venue, I felt better. The caterer listened to our needs and as much as possible both parties came up with a proper solution for the reception without changing much of the bride’s and groom’s needs.  And I can safely say now that I am looking forward to our big day!

P/s: I do not know if my 2-menu reception is going to be a good one. I really hope it will be a smooth-sailing one. I hope i do not cause a lot of trouble for my caterer, I hope my guests will be happy and I hope everything will go well.

Shit is getting real

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At the stroke of midnight, we will register at ROMM. Shit is getting real. The butterflies in my tummy have transformed into pterodactyls and T-Rexes shuffling to their stampede rhythm. Nothing makes sense but yes, THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS TO BE DONE! 

I can only pray and hope and leave it to Him so that this new journey be smooth. So, how do I calm this stampede and turn my pterodactyls back to butterflies? 

Betrothal

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I was proposed to not long after 6 months of courtship. A very shocking one for me, if anyone knows me. That one without a boyfriend for the longest time and that one who thought she would not settle down until later. God is really fair. When I submit myself to Him, amazing things happened to me. 

So, I was told by my partner that his family would want to come over for the official engagement a week later. *mugcow! Huru-hara, okay!* People who got news of it were shocked and some found it too rushing. Err, has anyone ever considered my feelings? 

Maybe, because of this rush, I have forgotten (honestly, I did not have the luxury of time) to inform many people. Initially, I do not want an engagement. Later, I thought a betrothal is necessary only if the important people are around. Yes we have the Adat Merisik, Adat Meminang, Adat Melamar and Adat Bertunang. In the olden days, these customs were done progressively. Now, I feel, we should be more practical and waste less money. 

We had a small gathering, both families joined by our representatives (“wakil” from both sides) where the elders talked about the details pertaining to the big day and whatnots. Where was I in this story? I had to sit in the dining room, not allowed to do any work like serving of guests. Honestly, I would wanna do it. I wasn’t allowed to. I felt really awkward and restless. My SIL and cousins reminded to be lady-like and sit still. You think? I wasn’t listening to the talk, I remembered vaguely they talked about the “duit hantaran”, nobody asked my opinion and I did not listen further. Totally shut everything out. I focused on playing with my niece instead. 

Soon, I was asked to come out of my “hiding” for the betrothal. His mother put the ring on me and we somewhat became officially to be betrothed. How did I react? As much as I have been to many engagement parties, when it comes to your own, you’ll be lost. For sure. We took pictures, which I felt were not worthy of sharing them on social media. REASON: I looked fat and I would rather basked in that moments of awkwardness than have my ugly photo be shared on social media as an announcement of my engagement. We did not take any pictures together because his aunt thought it is not appropriate. It’s fine by me. We can always take pictures later on. We did not exchange any gift (yes, like those trays of gifts you see at people’s engagement). His side gave me a ring, a bouquet of flowers and a cake (only because my birthday was coming?). No, my side did not give anything in return. In my defense, it was not in our agreement to exchange anything. Tak perlu kan? 

My betrothal was short and sweet. And we barely have 6 months to plan for our big day. I couldn’t care less if there is no engagement. But we still have our elders and I am very clear on which customs to keep. Unnecessary and impractical adats can go. I say so because in my line of studies, I have learnt so much about adat istiadat Melayu that they drive me crazy. Not that I am not proud to be a Malay. However, if you want to carry on an adat but you are doing it half-heartedly or just calling it an adat just because, no I’d rather not do it. 

Our budding relationship is pretty new. Not many people know we are together, which is definitely fine by me. I keep my relationship private as long as close friends know who I am dating. As much as I wanted to tell the world, my engagement to my Random Awesome was the best birthday gift ever, I found myself pretty reluctant to announce it. And those who know me, would know I use codes to express my thoughts normally.

 Word of my engagement got around because my dearest mama told me how much papa wanted to announce it. And if daddy was still around, he would be the happiest too. I relented. Mama uploaded the photos on FB. Some friends saw my tagged photos. And those who understood my term of “leveled up” also congratulated me. No qualms. That, too shall pass. 

To this day, I am quite happy that I did not have to announce my engagement. If by chance you heard of it, thank you. If by chance you meet me on the streets or at wedding functions, or by now seen the ring, you would have known. My fiance ever asked if I was happy my engagement was not as big as our other friends and family, I was. And I told him I would not have it any other way. He agreed with me on the hadith “rahsiakan pertunangan, hebahkan perkahwinan”. This hadith, though, is considered to be weak. Some scholars and elders question why! The good news are meant to be shared. Yes, I agree. But I love this privacy. In shaa Allah, we’ll announce the big day so the whole universe will know ok? 

So ladies, it really is up to you how you want your engagement to be. Nobody says anything you do is wrong.  And do not let anyone pressure you to do anything you dislike. As long as you are happy, it is all that matters.

The Agony of Duit Hantaran and Mas Kahwin

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This is my most hated topic ever. Yes, ever. Be it just talking it out with my friends or trying to coax my elders the non-importance of it. I’m going to talk about this anyways. Honestly,I am not in favour of having a price tag to myself. Then who is it for?

“Duit Hantaran” versus  “Mas Kahwin”

Dating back to pre-Islamic period when Hinduism and Animism was largely a part of the Malay society, duit hantaran was the dowry for giving away one’s daughter to the man she was going to marry. Why I mention animism? Our adat (customs) has got a lot to do with hinduism and animism beliefs. Anyhoos, when Malays in this archaepelago accepted Islam as their religion, they brought with them some adats. Though most adats have perished over time, duit hantaran has not. In fact, if there is a market price (I know there is. Makcik kepos love comparing.), in this millenia, we are looking at a 10K duit hantaran.

Myth 1: Duit hantaran is for the bride’s mother. She has given birth to her daughter and brought her up to be a respectable person with knowledge in religion, education and life-skills. Does this mean, if the bride is an orphan or was not brought up well, she is of no value, per se? Does this mean, the prospect husband of the bride has to work his ass off just to provide that amount of duit hantaran?

Myth 2: Duit hantaran is for the bride. I am supposed to say any argument is invalid, right? Who wouldn’t want a 10k duit hantaran, you tell me? But come on, labelling brides with price tags again.. Example a) the bride has only up till N level qualifications but with vast knowledge in cooking and household chores. (Our elders like to say “belajar tinggi-tinggi, masuk dapur jugak akhirnya..” yes?) Example b) the bride is a degree holder and rarely do her household chores. 10K duit hantaran.. is it worth it for both instances?

Myth 3: Duit hantaran for the groom to prove his ability to take care of his prospect wife and the amount raised is meant to be used for wedding preparations. This sounds legit. I can agree with this.

Mas Kahwin, or mahr (mahar), is the dowry that Islamic scholars refer to.  In Islam, there is no minimum or maximum amount of mahr. However, in different areas or countries, our religious insitituition has stated the proper amount, for instance in Singapore, is SGD100. (let me know if I am wrong) This mahr is obligatory (wajib) and a gift from the groom to the bride after they are solemnized. Meaning, it is only the bride who can make use of the gift. Mahr can also be other benefits such as silver or gold.

“Berilah kepada orang-orang perempuan itu mas kahwin mereka.” (Surah An-Nisaa’ ayat 4)

This reminds me also of a story during the times of Rasullullah (PBUH) when Baginda encountered a man who did not have anything on him to get married. Thus, Baginda asked of the man if he had memorised any ayat from the holy Quran? The man answered yes. Therefore, Baginda solemnised the man’s nikah with the surah the man has memorised as his mahr to his newly wedded wife. Beautiful, isn’t it? (And cheap, too.) Because Rasululllah (PBUH) said in a hadith by Bukhari,  “Find what you can as a mahr even if it is in form of a ring made from metal.”

My stance:

So what is with the grand amount of duit hantaran? I can safely say it really is up to individuals and the agreement between two families.  I made myself clear when asked how much do I want my duit hantaran to be; I answered zero. Null. I was questioned again, after some time, how much? Again, I made myself clear, null. My brother, who is my wali because my daddy passed on 5 years ago, tried to reason with me. Of course he understood where I was coming from and I was adamant. Heck, I even cried every night thinking about it to the point that the very thought of duit hantaran gave me headache.

Eventually, I told my partner, if there really should be duit hantaran, I really do not want to burden you with any amount. Since no one wants to accept my idea of zero dollar duit hantaran, I’ll even accept a 1 dinar amount. I told him my favourite number is 7. Honestly I gave up with this duit hantaran issue for myself. No, I did not get my eventual zero dollar duit hantaran, nor did I get my favourite number duit hantaran. THEN WHY DID ANYONE BOTHER ASKING ME HOW MUCH I WANT FOR DUIT HANTARAN?!

At this very moment, I still hope they will want to change their mind. I told them all before, what makes me the happiest bride is when my duit hantaran is zero dollar. In a hadith by Abu Daud in which Rasulullah (PBUH) mentioned, “The best mahr is one with the least amount.”

Ok, let’ be thankful, regardless.

My Ideal Wedding

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Every girl dreams of her ideal wedding. Every bride to be (BTB) wants her ideal wedding reliased. Be it a fairytale wedding, a grand wedding or a simple ceremony, you name it, every girl has her own ideal wedding. What’s mine? Mine varies every now and then. One thing for sure, from a grand wedding, I have minimised to a simple wedding.  Simple as it can be, I still want an ideal starry wedding.

One day, I was listening to Yuna’s Terukir Di Bintang (Written in the Stars, literally translated) and I thought it is such a beautiful love song a woman can dedicate to her man.  My obsession with astronomy only pushed me to fantasize about this starry wedding. How can I get married under the stars?

Back when I was much younger, early twenties, when sisters and cousins got married, I have fantasized my own grand wedding – from the dais, decoration, wedding favours, guestbook and the program that follows. Not lavish, just probably really more emphasized one compared to what I saw then. I have also realised that I am not at any advantage to have parents or siblings sponsoring anything for me. So I told myself if I want all these, I gotta work for it menggg. However, I was studying and I prioritised my studies above anything else. (Because I self-funded my own studies.)

Then as I grew older, and weighed the importance of a wedding, I realised I only need certain things to be emphasized. Personally, a wedding is a celebration of a union between two persons. But of course, not for our Malay/Muslim society. Generally, your wedding is your parents’ event. I see some of my friends and cousins lamenting about how they can hardly see eye to eye over certain things with their parents. Then there is the adat and adab. (Next time on this okay?) I am going through the same torture too.

What a woman must realise is, your wedding, is not just yours. It’s yours and your partner’s. So, you must consider your partner’s wants and needs first, on top of your parents. Okay, maybe no one’s wants and needs should be top, just consider everyone’s thoughts first okay?

IS IT MY IDEAL WEDDING YET?

Project 6915, as we have yet to come up with a proper hashtag, came about when he proposed to me. After the proposal, I was bombarded with the dates for official engagement and our big day. One thing  I made clear beforehand, was how I simple I wanted my wedding to be. I told him of my ideal solemnisation which I hope to be followed by Solat Syukur, imam-ed by my newly wedded husband. I did not want to care much about the reception, but I realised how much of an important figure is he, so I relented. Mind you, back of my mind was wondering if I could ever have my #terukirdibintang wedding…

When we planned for our concept, he asked me first about the theme.  We are two totally different individual – him, a musician and myself, pretty much a bookworm. I thought our concept is along that line. But he asked if I wanted an astronomy/cosmic theme for the wedding. I WAS BEYOND ELATED. Of course I agreed! Who wouldn’t?! I do not know if we think alike or it was just him making my ideal wedding come true. Regardless, that is as close as we can get to my getting married under the stars. WIN.

A year on…

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Time flew. Just last year I was sitting in cafe, all ready to complete my mission of “a cake a day till my birthday”. Not surprisingly, I accomplished my mission. And gained a whopping 10 kilos throughout the year. Felt like a teenager again, with such big appetite to feed the tummy.

A year on… and a lot of things happened.

A year on… and I grew up.

If I could summarise the past year in a word, it would be “BLESSED”. With what had happened to me in life and love, I began the search for my soul, seeking His Love. I began looking at life in a different perspective, sometimes to the extent of probably emotionless. There were times when others got emotional and I could only offer sympathetic smiles. Nothing too overboard. There were also times, when I question my inappropriate lack of emotions. Doesn’t mean I do not show my emotions, I am not feeling anything. Ok, maybe I really don’t? I just felt like sometimes, these adversities we are facing are just temporary. For some unknown reasons, worldly matters don’t matter to me so much. I began focusing on more important matters. Simply put, I learn to not hold grudges and let things go.

And what happened when I let things go? Allah SWT replaced them with better things.

… I cannot say how blessed I am today.

I have almost everything! Sacrifices here and there, but looking on the bright side, I am done with my BA. I found a life-partner I never thought I would. I have more time to spend at home. I am taking up new courses to fill my time. I am better mentally, emotionally, fiscally and spiritually. So now, I have to work my ass off to be better physically. :p

With that, I am prepping myself to embark on my new journey. Until then, I hope I will have enough time to pen my thoughts about that journey.

Life as a late twenties single lady.

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So here I am, in a well-known cafe, somewhere central of Singapore. Sitting alone, by the window, waiting for my souffle to arrive, I decided to write about how life’s been for me, a late twenties single lady.

I remember vividly a decade ago, I set some goals for myself. One of which was to settle down at the age of 27. Because I love the number 7. What do I know back then? Found a boyfriend I thought I would settle down with and you know go about life just like everyone else. But life took a twist on me. I got dump some 4 years after I had a boyfriend. Then soon, just before I started on my uni programme, Daddy left me due to diabetes. Since then, I shut my heart for i was too afraid to open it up for anyone.

People would wonder why is she telling her life story? Write a biography then! It was then when life taught me lessons I will never forget. About friendships, love, family, work and simply life. How to live life. Nope, there’s no need to keep reading those Huffingpost or Elitedaily stories. I admit, i read them too. In fact, I enjoy them too much. But those write ups are mere reminders for us to keep living life positively.

Life has changed a lot for me. I regard friendships as something very beautiful and sacred. Every friendship to me, lasts a lifetime. But little did i know, shit does happen and friendships go through its own phase of breakups too. That saddens me a lot. It was hard for me to move on. I have no idea why. When everything you treasure came crumbling down on you, that’s when you know you had to do something meaningful.

I took the easy way out. Return to the path of being Muslim. Well, a Muslim and being a Muslim are two different things altogether. I was Muslim but I neglect a lot of things, praying 5 times a day especially. I always forget or rather found excuses even on my clean days. Busy was the easiest excuse I gave. Until I couldn’t help myself – crying was too much and too tiring. I took ablution and performed a prayer. I cried my eyes out and poured all my feelings to my CReator. I felt relieved like one kind of relief. Like an instant burden lifted off my shoulders. Why had i neglected Him all these while? I wasn’t thankful as I said it out loud, I wasn’t as forgiving and I didn’t leave it to Him when I ask for things. THere wasn’t much faith in me.

Now, ten years down the road, I’m still trying to be Muslim – mannerism, way of life and everything else. I’m completing my degree programme by end of this year. I have small groups of friends that I love and know (and i hope ) will not leave me. Settle down at age 27? Nah… Allah has everything in store for me. I’m not ready to settle down. I love my singlehood too much to let go of this freedom as much as I know I want to find a partner and settle down.

And if you ever wonder if I have found the man yet? I think I have. And I am very sure Allah has set the right time for us to meet and fall in love in His name. For now, i’ll keep praying. Maybe he’s worth mentioning in my prayers. THere’s nothing more than to be thankful for everything that Allah has given me whether I deserve it or not. Alhamdulillah.

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And finally, I finished my souffle.