You may recall that the day of Jasmine’s and Tristan’s wedding ceremony dawns beautiful and sunny. But this is Southeast Asia, and it is the rainy season. Jasmine has been nervous all day that the weather will change and her outdoor ceremony will be rained out.
I diligently review the weather report, and the weather promises to hold out. There is a small chance of rain at 2 pm, but by 4 pm the chance is zero. That helps to alleviate Jasmine’s worries.
Everything seems to be falling nicely into place, even though I was such a dough head that we missed the rehearsal yesterday.
The wedding is being held at Alkaff Mansion, a beautiful setting on a hill overlooking lush greenery. Alkaff Mansion was built in 1918, and restored in 2003 after which it was put into use as an Italian restaurant and wedding/event venue. It is truly beautiful.
Now, as you can well imagine, as the mother-of-the-bride I can’t take photographs at the wedding. I had to leave my camera behind in the hotel safe, just to make sure that I would not be tempted to whisk it out. I do not have a purse with me on this trip either, so I can’t just shove it inside a purse. I have no choice. And cellphone picture taking would be tacky, too, so I religiously keep my phone hidden inside my pocket. Uh…..I don’t have a pocket. Well, I keep it hidden, at least I think I have it hidden.
Anyway, the point of mentioning this is that I don’t have any of my own photographs because I didn’t have my camera. These photos that I am posting here are taken by the wedding photographer. I have had a lot of people ask me to see photos of the wedding, but I have had only limited access to date. As the situation changes I will post more. But in the meantime, these are the photos that I have permission to access.
First of all, though, I would like to say that the wedding begins with a truly interesting and enjoyable Chinese tradition. It is a wedding tea ceremony, wherein the couple serves tea first to the parents and grandparents and older brother of the groom, followed by a tea service to the bride’s family. When the tea is served the parents relate their best wishes to the groom and bride, and place a red envelope on the service tray. The red envelope usually contains a sizable gift of money or jewelry for the bride and groom.
I find that I actually really enjoy this event, as it allows us to all gather as a family before the guests arrive. It is a little downtime, to relax, unwind, wish the couple well, and meet and greet other family members.
Now I might mention that this is the first time that our whole family has been together all at once for many years. And Jasmine has devised a way that even our baby Stefan can be present at this ceremony. When we lost our darling little son we purchased a very delicate and beautiful gold necklace to commemorate him. Jasmine has the necklace draped about her neck, and I had the great honor of placing it there and closing the clasp. Thus it is that our little Stefan is with us in our hearts.
I find myself thinking that this tea ceremony is a tradition that would be fun to adopt in some manner for future weddings. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos on hand yet from this event, but when I do I will add them here.
With the tea ceremony complete we head downstairs, as the wedding ceremony is to begin soon. I look up at the sky and see ominous clouds moving in. The weather forecast had been wrong! It is going to rain, certainly!
Just as soon as that thought passes through my mind the sky opens up and rain begins to fall, lightly at first and with increasing intensity after several minutes. There is not much that we can do. We seek shelter on the front stoop of the mansion.
At sight of the first few raindrops the event coordinators spring into action. Clearly they had a contingency plan. They whisk out ginormous plastic sheets and cover the seats in a flash.
The rain lasts only about 10 minutes, a gentle sprinkling, just enough to erase the heat from the air; just enough to put pretty little droplets of water on the rose petals. And when the rain stops, the plastic sheets vanish as quickly as they had appeared. And now it is time for a wedding ceremony.
Now, I am not sure if this is an Asian custom or not, or just a modern wedding twist, but I have to say that I like it. My baby girl Jasmine, the one whom I remember cuddling so much as a baby, who loved to hold onto my shirt and suck her little baby thumb, who was such a joyful little girl mixed with just the right amount of spunk……she asked me if I would like to escort her to the altar as well as her father. So as mother on one side, and father on the other side, we escort her to the place where Tristan and Jasmine will exchange their personal wedding vows.
The grass is still wet from the light drizzling of rain, so I hold up the hem of Jasmine’s dress until we arrive at the altar, and Tristan greets her. I bend down to straighten the hem of her beautiful dress and take my seat in the front row. As I walk past the bouquet of roses I notice how the petals glisten from the fresh rain. I notice how the sky glows as the sun sinks lower into the horizon.
I find myself thinking about how Jasmine never wanted to grow up. When she was 16 she would often tell me that she was scared of becoming an adult, did not want to turn 18, did not want to grow up, did not want to become an adult.
And yet here we are today. Jasmine has grown up. She has a good career started as a nurse. She is self sufficient. She is a beautiful mature woman, making a commitment to cherish and love this man, Tristan, forever.
Who is Tristan? How did they meet? Why is her wedding ceremony in Singapore? These are questions I often hear.
My thoughts hearken back to when they met.
Jasmine was barely 18 when she left overseas for school in Finland. She had just graduated high school, which was a life event that had frightened her for several years already, because she didn’t want to grow up.
She was without a clear plan, and so it was that we sent her to Finland for school for a year at Reisjärvi, which is where we had taught and lived for a year when Jasmine was a little girl. As a little girl she had loved Finland, the people, the customs, the traditions….. everything. It seemed like a good decision.
My sweet little Jasmine was so far away. She was homesick. She struggled with many issues. There were some troubling and difficult days for her. As a mother my heart wept for her, wishing that I could erase her pain….wishing that I could understand her and she could understand me.
One weekend Jasmine made a trip down to Helsinki to visit her cousin. Together they attended an international event at the famous Rock Cathedral in Helsinki. When she was there she met her soulmate, Tristan, who was an art major studying in Helsinki.
Over the ensuing weeks and months he helped to comfort her and understand her and carry her….to dress her emotional wounds when I couldn’t.
As you might imagine, both of us parents had thought that maybe when Jasmine was in Finland she might meet a Finnish boy, but never did it occur to us that she might fall in love with a man from such a far away place as Singapore! When she told us she was dating Tristan, a man several years her senior, we were quite surprised. Really, she was so young, the cultural differences so great, the distances so vast….
When the school year ended Jasmine came back home to Arizona, and Tristan went back to Singapore. But the love that had been ignited between them only grew stronger despite the vast distance that they were apart.
He became ever increasingly her rock in turbulent times, her comforter and support, her happiness.
And so it was that he worked hard and found sponsors and scholarships. Before long he moved to study art in San Francisco. Now that’s a lot closer than Singapore!
And that is how their love story began.
Since those early days Jasmine has graduated from nursing school and Tristan has graduated with his master’s degree. Jasmine has a good job as a nurse, and Tristan has moved to Phoenix and works as a professor at ASU and UoP.
I snap back into the moment, where I see my daughter standing beside her beloved, waiting and desiring to exchange vows. She is ready to grow up now, in fact she has grown up….into a beautiful, compassionate young woman.
And next to her stands Tristan, a man whom we have gotten to know over the past several years. He is a man whom I feel confident will love and cherish our dear daughter forever, who will be her life’s companion.
How could he not? She is easy to love, and loves back without abandon. She is my little girl, who was afraid of growing up, who puts her family first, who always looks out for the weak one or the hurting one. She has just the right amount of that spunk she had as a little girl,coupled with compassion and fierce love that makes for a perfect young bride and wife.
When I look at them they both look radiant and happy. And I know in my heart that they are good for each other, that this is a beautiful beginning to their commitment one to another.
The ceremony is officiated by an elder from the church that Tristan belonged to when he lived here in Singapore. His words are touching, and good reminders about how to love one another, and put the other first. Jasmine and Tristan have prepared their own special vows, which bring tears to my eyes.
The reception is held upstairs in a very beautiful setting. The five course meal is exquisitely prepared Italian food. After each course there is an intermission during which there is a program.
Aundrea sang Ave Maria beautifully for her sister and husband. Our family had also practiced a song, which came together really nicely. If I get a recording of the music I will post it here. I really liked how the program was dispersed between the courses of the meal.
The evening closes out as many weddings do, and we are exhausted by the end.
We don’t get back to the hotel until after midnight, and we have an early rise tomorrow. Our flight leaves to Bali at 9 am…..and that’s a whole other story in the making…..
(I will post additional photos to this blog posting if and when they become available)