We're Married, Jom Makan!

photo display at Picnic reception

The thing about being the organiser and photographer of your own event is having to juggle between the tasks of perfecting every detail possible and making yourself available to capture all those moments on camera. I bestowed upon myself another important task of hanging out by the dessert table (strawberry rhubarb pie, where have you been all my life?) so you can imagine how busy I was. You know what people say about brides not having enough to eat at their own wedding - I was not one of those brides. I hope you care to indulge me as I share some point-and-shoot photos from a special day in my life. 


The theme of the reception was clearly stated on the welcome sign designed by our friend Ben: Jom makan = Let's eat. That's what people all over the world do during a celebration, so that's what we did. Travel has been such a big part of our lives that it inevitably featured in the decoration. Over the years we've amassed an assortment of momentos and keepsakes from places we've been to and people we met. The story of how David ended up in Malaysia is a long one, and there are precious people back there that we missed dearly from the event. We count our lucky stars that Leo, the person who introduced us in Malaysia, the person who brought us together, was able to fly all the way here to be with us on this day. 

From the land of burritos to the world of kari ikan and monsoon rains... For years we traversed those two realities, with the unchanging moon as our witness. Today we found ourselves under the same sun, and that called for a toast, not just any toast but the unmistakable Chinese-style yam seng (equivalent to cheers) characterised by the sustained utterance of "yam" followed by a loud and short "seng". It went something like this: yammmmmmm-SENG! 

malaysian mee siam: stir fried rice vermicelli with shrrimp, chicken, tofu, eggs, vegetables and ground peanuts. the important ingredient is taucu, which is fermented soybeans
popular southeast asian dishes: Fried chicken wrapped with screwpine leaves and chicken on skewers infused with asian spices

Food was a spread of Southeast Asian dishes, from gado gado (Indonesian vegetable salad with peanut sauce) and roti telur (Malaysian flatbread stuffed with egg and served with curry) to pandan chicken (fried chicken wrapped in screwpine leaves commonly found in Thailand) and the universal favorite, meat on skewers, also known as satay. David was the designated handyman, and one of his tasks was to crack open fresh young Thai coconuts, which he did expertly with a cleaver in four precise hacks. 

When our neighbor offered to bring a cake, we didn't expect a three-tier wedding cake with classic white buttercream frosting. It was beautifully constructed and just perfect. 

tropical fruits: lychee, longan, mangosteen and jackfruit

The colorful Nyonya kuih were meant for dessert but who could blame us for clearing half the tray before lunch started. Popular as snacks in Malaysia, these steamed sweet cakes are typically made of rice flour, tapioca flour and coconut milk. The quiches and dessert pies were a real treat for me and I'm sure you can understand why I was too preoccupied to remember to photograph them. We also had seasonal tropical fruits: jackfruit, mangosteen, longan and lychee. Mr Handyman did not think of Googling the way to cut open a jackfruit so we had to improvise. 

People danced to a soundtrack that included Bombino, Paolo Nutini and Pop Yeh Yeh, which has been described as psychedelic rock from Malaysia and Singapore in the sixties and seventies. It was surreal for me to hear the voice of the late iconic Malaysian singer P Ramlee out in the Californian foothills.  

The dress code was, um, picnic casual, you know, "whatever you feel like wearing" + "don't forget your sunnies". We were thrilled to see our friend Donna show up in her modern interpretation of kebaya, a traditional attire worn on special occasions in Indonesia and Malaysia. 

The Malaysian batik pareos that we used to drape over the tables were a gift from Leo and Leigh, who also hand-carried across the Pacific Ocean some Malaysian snack items that made it possible for us to assemble a goodie bag of our favorite childhood snacks.

picnic reception goodie bags

We've learned from our travels that food is the quickest introduction to a new culture, and hope that we were able to impart to our family and friends some of our experiences through mee siam, coconut candy and fish muruku. As I have enjoyed the generous hospitality of homemade pecan pie.

PICNIC RECEPTION GOODIE BAGS  with a ralph waldo emerson quote