I am a convert

Oh keep your panties on. It is not what you think.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I detest weddings. I can’t bear the noise and boisterousness that usually comes with weddings, the way some brides parade around whining about how frazzled they are from ‘having’ to plan a big circus wedding with four receptions, when secretly they would have six if they had their way, and the family members who insist on ‘pitching in’ but really want to dominate the entire project. And most recently, I’ve developed a repulsion towards strapless dresses.

And then I realized all this negative energy may have been building up mainly because these weddings I speak of are Chinese weddings.

Last Friday, I attended an akad nikah for the first time in my life — not as surprising as some might think, because in all the time I’ve been with Afham we’ve only ever been invited to the evening receptions held after the solemnization ceremonies. But this was meant to be a ‘working wedding’, a wedding that I was covering for the magazine, so that coupled with the fact that I had never witnessed a Muslim wedding ceremony before helped to dilute the feeling of consternation I normally get prior to attending a wedding. It also helped that the bride was an extremely sweet and humble person that I had met through friends, and made my arrangements to cover her wedding almost unfairly easy.

So when I arrived at Duchess Place on Jalan Ampang on Friday afternoon, an hour before the akad was scheduled to begin, I was greeted with a very calm atmosphere never seen at Chinese or Indian weddings. Photographers were all over the place, taking photos of the decorations and guests, but not getting in anyone’s way. Family members were milling around, the wedding planner was making last-minute adjustments to the setup, and, thank the good Lord, Farhan was there to take me through everything and introduce me to people. As the time drew closer for the akad to begin, what struck me immediately was how calm, laidback and dignified everyone seemed, sitting where they should be and just waiting for the bride to arrive.

The solemnization ceremony itself had a profound impact on me. I had seen it in videos and pictures and heard about it countless times from my friends, but to watch it for the first time was very different. It was such a peaceful, heartfelt ceremony, something that I’ve never seen even at Christian weddings, and the couple’s decision to keep it intimate, with only their family members and closest friends present — members of the press like myself notwithstanding — made it all the more meaningful.

So I found myself tearing during the ceremony.

Yes’m I did. I, who despises weddings, have eyes that welled up at a wedding for the first time in all their 27 years of sight.

I am, obviously, never attending another Chinese wedding. Except, of course, Becca’s.

And I am a Chinese.

Oh, and the bride? The very sight of her was enough to reduce one to tears too:

The radiant bride, Yasmin Hani Richardson. Taken with BlackBerry Bold 9780

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