Getting married this year was a challenge.

Like many other couples who decided to tie the knot in 2020, Covid-19 took us by surprise.

While some other couples postponed their nuptials due to the restrictions for the pandemic, my husband and I decided to go ahead with our plans.

We had to work with the limited number of guests and that challenge made us cherish every single person we had at our wedding.

Despite not being able to go ahead with our original plans of celebrating our joy with the many friends and family members on our invitation list, my Covid wedding became a reminder of all the acts of kindness from people around me.

Kindness in blessings received

Image source: Chee Wen Qi

Paring down our guest list was the biggest challenge for us. Both my husband and I have rather large extended families and so we agonised over how to give the bad news to those who were looking forward to attending the ceremony.

Yet, when the time came, the understanding shown by my relatives touched me greatly.

Instead of grousing over pecking order, they were all willing to give up more slots so that I could invite other guests. In the end, most of my parents’ siblings sent two representatives per family to share our joy in person and those who could not attend were still there in spirit – sending gifts and well-wishes to us on the big day itself.

We could do this because, in true working-from-home fashion, we had set up a Zoom meeting for our wedding! That was how many of our close friends and relatives got to see my husband and I exchange our vows.

In fact, having our ceremony broadcast online actually gave extended relatives who lived overseas the chance of seeing us get married in real time!

Not being able to see many of my friends in person on my big day really made me realise how important it is to be able to give and receive a blessing from others and helped me truly look forward to meeting my loved ones again when restrictions get more relaxed.

Kindness in help rendered

kindness in help rendered
Image source: Chee Wen Qi

Since wedding professionals added to the headcount allowed for the wedding, many of my close friends and cousins volunteered their services for us, just so that they could be there!

The emcee, the decorations and setup, even photography, videography and editing were all “internally sourced” and it made it all seem so much more intimate.

I may not have had a grand wedding of 40 or 50 tables but seeing my loved ones spontaneously stepping up with whatever skills and abilities they had made me feel as if my ceremony was a personal project for them.

It wasn’t professional, but it was perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Kindness in loved ones reconnected

loved ones reconnected
Image source: Chee Wen Qi

My November wedding also gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my relatives. As with most big families, Chinese New Year is when we get together and update one another on our lives.

This year especially, many of us haven’t had the chance to reach out, being concerned with our careers and our health or simply trying to weather the Covid storm.

Our wedding gave me a chance to reach out again, even if it was only to apologise for not being able to invite them.

Ironically, it was during those conversations that I started reconnecting at a deeper level with my cousins. We reminisced about the past, laughed about the times when we were partners in crime, doing silly and fun stuff in our childhood days.

Older cousins would tell me how they couldn’t believe how their “little sister” (I was one of the babies of the family) is actually getting married and moving on to another stage of life!

Imagine how good it felt to have a wedding rejection text turn into a happy catch-up session!

My aunties also started texting me (so much more tech-savvy now that mobile phones have become one of the main ways of staying in touch), reminding me not to be too stressed over the wedding planning and to focus on being beautiful and happy!

One dear aunt told me something that stuck with me throughout all the ups-and-downs of the wedding planning journey: “It is about the both of you. Just be happy. That is what matters.”

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Kindness in gracious gestures

gracious gestures
Image source: Chee Wen Qi

Covid aside, what do you think is one of the worst things that could possibly happen on your wedding day?

Yep, you got that right. Just minutes before I was going to leave home for the ceremony, I discovered a tear in my wedding gown. I sound calm now, telling the story, but I certainly wasn’t in the best state of comfort that day!

Cutting the story short, I did whatever I could to fix the damage but not being a seamstress, I ended up using my veil and very specific body postures to try to hide the rip!

After surviving the wedding day, my husband and I gave our feedback to the wedding boutique and we were pleasantly surprised by their kindness.

Not only did they not charge me for the damage, they refunded the rental fee! The owner even apologised because she thought that she had ruined my big day. Her gracious behaviour defused a potentially ugly dispute.

And it wasn’t just her, my husband and I were surprised at the graciousness and flexibility from all the vendors we engaged for our wedding over the changing of plans due to the pandemic.

Kindness from strangers in the community

kindness from strangers
Image source: Chee Wen Qi

Did these succulents catch your eye? Cacti isn’t exactly your standard wedding gift, but it still warmed my heart when our vendor presented it to my husband when he went to collect our favours.

They didn’t have to do it, and it is an expense in lean times like these. Yet that little kind gesture – of helping us “plant love” – made us appreciate how they were happy to share our joy.

Thinking back on my wedding planning journey, I must say I felt like everyone was sharing our joy. I know it sounds silly (I mean, of course weddings are meant to be joyful!), but somehow it felt like my marriage gave people around us an additional reason to show kindness and shower love on each other during our gloomiest times.

Even the public Telegram wedding chat channels that we subscribed to in preparation for our wedding were wholesome and supportive.

Reading those chats just affirmed how helpful Singaporeans can be. We were strangers, yet we were sharing suggestions and giving feedback just so that all of us who were getting married could get the best deal or find the right solutions.

It made me reflect on how we should not take happy milestones such as getting married or having a child for granted. Hearing about someone is getting married may not be something surprising or new but each person experiences this same milestone differently. It is a journey that only they can go through.

So it helps to look beyond our own personal pursuits and help where we can so that another person can have a better day. In expanding my heart, I am reminded of the importance of sharing the joy of others as well.

I am glad to celebrate this life milestone with the people who matter and humbled to have learned how our humanity binds us together.

And that’s the greatest gift (aside from my husband of course!) that I took away from my Covid wedding.

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Top Image: Chee Wen Qi