…and what have I achieved, wedding-wise?
Well, here’s a list:
Bridal outfits and makeup? Check! Materials for my outfits acquired and sent to the tailor; bridal makeup artist booked. No
drop dead gorgeous bride, no wedding!
Ensnared and groomed him for the role close to 10 years ago hahahah! Again, no drop dead handsome groom, no wedding!
Marriage preparatory course? Check! Booked on 11 December 2012, will attend this February! Repeat with me people; no certificate, no wedding!
Venue? Check! First item booked after we fixed the date. No guests, no wedding!
But I’ll still be married so who cares? There’s a place to hold the wedding, a place for guests to come!
Food? No check! Well, the guests can leave to fill their own tummies elsewhere after the wedding.
Well, WHAT??? Less than 11 months to the wedding and no caterer booked?!?!?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the caterer is proving to be the holy grail in my quest for a not-so-conventional (by today’s standards) Malay wedding. And when I say not-so-conventional, I don’t mean I want fanciful food! I just want simple but delicious fare, and nothing in excess. If I had my way all the way the entire way, this is how the menu at my wedding would be like:
Fragrant herb / raisin rice
Grilled or baked boneless fish with lemon sauce
Black pepper chicken
Hot tea or coffee
Plain water, room temperature
And the berkat (wedding favours) would be Tupperware containers for the guests to pack leftovers (practical, functional, reusable, earth-lovable, and ensures no wastage of food; the only downside is they won’t be cheap).
And, it would be a sit-down reception with minimal guests (like, 200?) and it would be over within 2 hours (30 minutes solemnisation ceremony, 45 minutes eating in peace – bride and groom included – 15 minutes speech, 30 minutes photo taking)
Yes, that would be my dream wedding, food-wise. And favours wise. And time-wise. And guest-numbers-wise.
But of course, a Malay wedding isn’t a Malay wedding without it being the parents’ event as much as it is the bride’s or groom’s. My parents would probably disown me if I insist on carrying out my ‘crazy’ ideas (seriously, it wouldn’t be crazy if people stopped caring about other people and paid attention ONLY to the important thing, like WHO is actually getting married – that would be ME! ME ME ME! *stomps feet bridezilla style*).
So, no such menu at my wedding. Instead, I’m just going for the typical fare, but I’m insisting on no excess in terms of variety. I’m also insisting on quality! Let’s spell it out together: Q.U.A.L.I.T.Y. If it’s going to be
plain ole’ typical traditional briyani, it had damn well be good, no, GREAT briyani dam. Which is why I’m not going with the caterer who has worked with my family twice already. They did an OK job – food was nice, amount was sufficient and service was good. However, I’m not looking for nice food – I’m looking for SUPERB food. The kind that people remember and talk about years down the road. The wedding decor can be just nice, or even average – that only leaves an impact on people for a day. Or three. Or thirty. But the food, the FOOD, the FOOD! There’s something about gastronomic pleasure that leaves lingering memories that last a lifetime. (Until you die and get to heaven, that is. Hopefully.) Which is why I would like to honour my guests by serving SUPERB food at my wedding.
However, I am also realistic. Remember the reason why I’m the pengantinpelik? Remember? If you don’t, here’s the reason: I plan to spend as little as I possibly can on my wedding. It’s either that, or I stretch my dollars as much as possible. So, while I want SUPERB food, the price has to be reasonable. I had drawn up a budget some time back, basing the prices I’m willing to pay for this and that aspect of the wedding on the research I’ve done (mostly online and a bit from the two or three wedding expos I had visited). The caterer has to also work within the limitation set by my chosen venue: no cooking there (which means the caterer has to have its own kitchen to cook at, or rent a void deck somewhere to cook – I prefer the former as the latter would incur extra cost in terms of rental and logistics).
Now, in my quest to balance both quality and price (or rather, value-for-money), as well as my venue limitation, I have tried the food by a number of caterers. The first was one I had never heard of, but happened to chance upon at the 2nd or 3rd wedding expo I had gone to last year. The caterer had teamed up with a dessert company and a decor one. The one who served us and answered our queries was the lady from the dessert company, because the catering husband-and-wife owners were Indians who could not speak Malay, plus it seemed they were not used to going all out to talk to potential customers. I could speak to them in English, but I would have to translate for my mom, so I guess the dessert company lady stepped in when she saw that my mom was asking them questions in Malay and they looked confused. She was very nice and friendly without being pushy, and got the briyani and desserts for us to taste.
This briyani was a little different than what I’ve usually tasted; the spices were either different or a lot more. It was delicious in a different way. The price quoted was reasonable, even with the separate fee for cutlery and banquet staff service. The desserts were great too; both Malay and Western. However they were priced per pax, and packaged such that there would be several (like, more than 5) different types and presented on a fancy dessert buffet line. Just the desserts would have been close to 2k! So we gently rejected the desserts (but my mom bought the bottled sambal rojak from the lady since she had been so nice and helpful) but we paid for a pack of briyani to bring home to let my dad and sister taste. The verdict: my dad said it was a bit too spicy (hot) for him while my sister said it was nice, ok nice but she wasn’t exactly raving about it. I was not too convinced either, so to the KIV list that caterer went.
The next caterer was another outfit that specialises in briyani. I was impressed by the great taste when I had their briyani at the fiancé’s friend’s wife’s reception at Laguna Country Club. (We got invited because the couple have been together for ages so the wife knows the husband’s friends and is a regular staple at their lepak at kedai kopi sessions. As for me? I’m the girlfriend the fiancé ‘keeps in the wardrobe’ because I hardly join the boys for such sessions.)
I tried calling the number on their business card but could not reach them. So in the end, on one Friday afternoon, I got my mom to have lunch with me at the restaurant. (As it so happens, it happens to be the same restaurant where my dad held the wedding dinner for his colleagues years back.) After enjoying the briyani, we went to the counter to pay and enquire about their catering service. No doubt, the food was great. However, we were quoted a price that was too close to my budget, and that did not yet include banquet staff service fee and dessert! The ‘basic’ price was for the main briyani dish, accompanying side dishes, drinks and if I remember correctly, fruit. The price quoted per pax was at least $3 more expensive than that quoted by another briyani specialist which I managed to reach through the phone months back (but whose food I have yet to taste, even now). $3 may not sound like much, but when multiplied by the number of guests, it can run into a difference of more than a thousand dollars! So, we left the restaurant with one caterer scratched out of a grand list of TWO under consideration.
On a side note, before we had lunch at the restaurant, we prayed at a nearby mosque. Upon leaving the mosque, we saw one celebrity in wedding finery just arriving for her solemnisation ceremony! As celebrities in the Singaporean Malay community go, she wasn’t exactly surrounded by a throng of fans. There was probably just a handful or three gathered at one of the mosque’s entrances, snapping photos of her as she arrived. I suspect they just happened to be there (instead of especially being there to witness her arrival), the same way my mom and I happened to be there. So since she was in our path, I just whipped out my iPhone and took a few shots:
Ok I should get back to my main point, but that’s another long story (or three), so I guess here’s where I go: To be continued… See ya in Part Two!