death by paper cut

{October 2, 2010}   jie mei

jie mei means older sister – younger sister. jie mei also typically refers to the group of girlfriends that the chinese bride has to plan and execute tasks placed as obstacles for the groom and his band of brothers to tackle before fetching the bride. last week, i was a jie mei in at PL’s wedding. my assigned role was to capture footage, both as photos and videos, and produce a video/photo montage of the morning’s proceedings to be screened at the chinese dinner to follow later in the day.

i gladly took the job because taking photos, of friends no less, is up my ally. also, i have the technical know-how and equipment to pull this off.

in order to be at PL’s place at 6am, i was up by 4.45am and putting on make up by 5.30am. i have never ever applied cosmetics so early in the morning. in no time i was off to PL’s place with laptop, extension cord, camera, camcorder in a ku niang outfit. funnily, my dad, who roused from all my ruckus i presume, asked on my way out if i was going camping.

by the time i got to PL’s place with DT and SB picked up on the way, PL was already dressed and made up. i love the details of her outfit.

PL & KG - The Morning Preparation 4 PL & KG - The Morning Preparation 8 PL & KG - The Morning Preparation 7

PL has got to be the most relaxed bride ever. first of all, it should be known that she and the groom did all the planning and coordination. they are level-headed, down-to-earth people, and so was the wedding. events of the day was planned with sufficient buffer time, so there was no rushed feeling to the proceedings. it also helped that the bride and groom live minutes from each other, so the traveling time was cut to the minimum. also, both families are relatively small. there were only 3 to 4 rounds of the offering of tea at the tea ceremony at both the bride and groom’s side. simple catering was arranged at both sides to feed the guests, and to ensure that the bride and groom too do not go hungry.

PL & KG - Tea Ceremony at the Groom's 15

as usual, the most entertaining aspect of the customary wedding is for the groom and his band of brothers to overcome the tasks set out by the jie mei. knowing the groom’s weakness in spelling in english, the first task for the groom and his brothers was to identify the four listed holiday destinations he and the bride embarked together and spell the locations using alphabet stickers within a time limit of 10 seconds. the forfeit would be to drink 4 concoctions of something sour, sweet, bitter and spicy. prior to this, i didn’t know that the consumption of these four flavors are mandatory. so the real point of the game is to lose each of the four rounds and drink up.

the groom and his band of brothers were sporting and emptied the concoctions from baby feeding bottles. there were no complains or difficulty in finishing the drinks. either they have  high tolerance or the concoctions were mild. i didn’t taste it myself. i don’t even know what went in there.

PL & KG - Gate Crash Challenge One 10

PL & KG - Gate Crash Challenge One 13

PL & KG - Gate Crash Challenge One 6 PL & KG - Gate Crash Challenge One 2

the second challenge was to dance to a song played, (Jai Ho from the slumdog millionaire OST) and pose intermittently in the positions depicted in four photographs that the bride is featured in, being classically trained. the footage of this part garnered the most laughs at the dinner presentation.

Pose 1
Pose 2
Pose 3
Pose 4

the groom is a physical education teacher. so subjecting him to strenuous activity would not be much of a challenge. instead, we subjected his band of brothers to do push-ups, with the groom striking poses on top.

Challenge 3

after that, the jie meis’ didn’t plan any other obstacle for the groom to get his bride. he prepared a final challenge for himself, which is to sing her a song from the other side of the closed door. Alex To’s Marry Me moved her to tears.

PL & KG - Gate Crash Challege Four 1 PL & KG - Getting the Bride 2

with the bride successfully won over, the wedding entourage proceeded to the groom’s place for the tea ceremony and then return to the bride’s side to repeat the ceremony. traditionally, the groom’s family has to receive the tea from the newly weds before the bride’s family’s turn. that is the reason for the back and forth travel.

Bridal Car PL & KG - Tea Ceremony at the Bride's 1

with the customary morning rituals over, i promptly returned home to begin work on the photo/video montage. it was only a week before that i started tinkering with imovie. but the intuitive design and online tutorials made it simple to do impressive productions. this montage would be my third one of the week.

the 15 minute montage took me 4 hours to make. that’s considerably fast already. what i didn’t expect was how long it took to export and then burn with iDVD. the exporting took 30 minutes and the burning took an hour. instead of assembling at 5pm for the dinner briefing and test run, i only got there at 7pm and had to forgo witnessing the solemnisation. and that’s after jumping into and out of the shower, slapping on some make up and jumping in and out of a cab i called. adrenaline rush.

fortunately it all went well. the restaurant’s console could play the dvd i burnt and the crowd enjoyed it. i was so thrilled to see my work well received. and most of all the radiant couple loved it.

PL’s wedding is considerably fuss free and small scale. it had an intimate feel to the affair that was made cozier with forth coming friends who rendered help in any way necessary and unreservingly.

PL & KG - Tea Ceremony at the Groom's 18 PL & KG - The Dinner 18 PL & KG - The Dinner 19

i’m not usually a fan of chinese weddings because it is usually impersonal, unimaginative and very often, the wishes of the newly weds get passed over for showy customary practices. but i enjoyed PL’s wedding because i was directly involved in the background preparations as well as the front line execution together with other close friends. i was part of an extraordinary team.

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