Prep - Meet the Parents Session

11:57:00 PM

Having dated for close to 6.5 years, this is definitely not the first time that our families have met one another. In fact, one of the probable reasons why we are able to go through this relationship smoothly is because we have a strong family support and we involve them in most of our important family gatherings so that they are able to know each other better.

Even so, honestly speaking, we weren't sure of what points we had to go through during the Meet the Parents session. Though they have met many times, there was still this bit of awkwardness on the actual day. We actually read through some forums on what can be discussed but questions will start pouring in from everyone naturally, one question led to another and it wasn't too bad after all. Just in case any couples need a bit of help and prompting, here is a list of what we had gone through, which we have grouped into various categories for easier viewing:

Wedding Date

We settled ours before the session because we knew that there were months we had to avoid because of work. So with the dates we had left to choose from, we narrowed it down to 3 dates before checking up with the Church and Hotels if they were still available.

Nevertheless, this should be the first topic to approach during the Meet the Parents session if it hasn't been settled. Especially the wedding date! Because once that's in place, it is easier to draft a timeline of what to do for the remaining months leading to the big day.

Church Wedding

1. Time - Because we are not doing a gate-crash, the church wedding would be the first event for the day. Some churches hold more than 1 wedding per morning so there are stipulated timings to follow. Getting the timing of the first event confirmed helps to better plan for the rest of the day's events.

2. Venue & Celebrant - Discuss on the Church that you would like to hold your wedding at and the Priest (or pastor if Christian) that you would like to invite to celebrate the occasion.

3. Guest list - It's quite difficult to finalize a number on the spot so do allow your parents to think through this before the session if possible. Even if you're unsure who to invite in the end, getting a rough estimate on the friends, relatives or families that you're intending to invite would be good for budgeting and logistics purposes as well.

4. Church Reception - Decide between a lunch or tea reception and the type of menu you would like for your guests. This is a good time to check if parents have any recommendations on caterers from friends or relatives.

Tea Ceremony

1. Time & Venue - Depending on the activities lined up for the entire day, most couples doing a church wedding would hold their Tea Ceremony at the venue of the wedding banquet, before the banquet begins. Most hotels or restaurants have a small function room that they are able to open and accommodate guests for the ceremony.

While we all know that the chinese tradition would be to have the ceremonies held at each of the couple's homes, it would leave us very little traveling and rest time in between as we have to rush to different locations (including family members, especially if they do not own a car). It is always good to voice out your suggestions but do respect your parents even if they choose not to follow your opinions in the end.

2. Tea set - This is to be bought by the family of the Bride, presented during the Betrothal (more about that below) and used at the actual Tea ceremony. Most hotels now provide the tea set, longans/lotus seeds & red dates tea and basins to wash tea cups so all you have to do is to be present. But do check again, not all will do the same.

Wedding Banquet

1. Guest list & no. of tables - Getting the numbers would help with shortlisting venues. Most hotels and restaurants have a minimum no. of tables required for booking of their ballrooms or function rooms so this has to be decided first before the venue. Likewise to the church wedding, do allow your parents to think through this before the session so that you can have a rough gauge on the no. of tables you will need.

2. Venue & Menu - While the couple usually does the shortlisting, the parents should have their input as to which works out better too. Some hotels or restaurants offer Western menus, which is unconventional but rather popular nowadays.

Mel did up an excel sheet according to our budget, which helped a lot when we had to decide on the venue in the end. You can get the updated wedding banquet pricelist from Singapore Brides, which is what we did (even though it may not be the finalized numbers. This is how our excel comparison sheet looked like:

3. Main concerns - Your concerns could be different from your parents. While you might want to have better entertainment, they might want a location that is more accessible or has better food instead. Be open to discussions and straightforward by laying out the reasons for your choice.

Trust us, everyone is eager to help and you must be grateful that they are offering their suggestions. After all, they've been through their own wedding before, have lived longer than you have (probably attended more weddings or helped out in more as well) and majority of the guests would probably be their friends and family members :)

Guo Da Li / Betrothal 过大礼

1.  Betrothal Gifts from both Bride and Groom

Depending on your dialect / tradition, the gifts that have to be presented are different. Ben is Cantonese while Mel is TeoChew so there are several additional gifts to prepare. A list of the usual items can be easily found on the web, but do check with parents on what they actually want because the lists do vary.

2. Setting an estimate date for the 过大礼, usually 1 - 1.5months before wedding day.

Read about our Guo Da Li Ceremony here.

Actual Wedding Day Logistics & Services

1. Transport for the day, including bridal cars and drivers etc.

2. Photography and Videography Services

3. Bridal shops & Attire for parents, bridesmaids, best man, flower girl and ring bearer

For us, we have agreed that we will be paying for outfits for the above mentioned people because we want them to not have to worry about how much they have to spend. Naturally, all parents would want to look their best on their child's wedding day so be prepared to set aside a bit more budget in this area, if you are intending to foot the attire bill as well. Of course if you give them a budget to work around, we're pretty sure they wouldn't burst it for you.

4. Emcee

5. Wedding Invitation card printing (usually for church weddings only, since hotels would provide for the banquet invitations).

6. Accommodation for guests who will be flying in from overseas to attend the wedding.

7. Dealing with latecomers at the dinner banquet - Haha, that's quite subjective. But we all know that most chinese weddings would end up starting much later than the stated invitation card timing. But do take note that should that happen, you may have to end up paying additional hours for your photographers and videographers, and the hotel staff would usually be rushing you through the courses of the meal because they don't get paid OT. So the best is actually not to wait too long, people can get hungry and impatient.

We're quite glad that we managed to cover many points during the discussion because it allowed us to carry on with our planning thereafter. It was quite sweet that along the 1.5 hour session, our parents started to reminisce about their own wedding 30 years back, poking fun at each other about the stupid things they had to do and the goofy makeup and retro hairstyles they had back during their time.

They have been so supportive of us and have been checking back on our progress every few days, asking us if we need any help with our preparations. We are so glad that they have also been involved in many of our celebrations, like how Ben included them into our engagement.

Though things have been smooth-sailing thus far, there is bound to be unhappiness along the way due to disagreements or conflicting ideas. As we summarized our discussion, we also took the opportunity to apologize to our parents (in advance, haha!) if we ever do get agitated or unhappy during the process of all the wedding prep (more so for Mel, you know... Bridezilla moments).

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