Thirty years together

This is one of those encouraging stories about a married couple who are celebrating their marriage and being together for the past thirty years.

Then - thirty years ago in JB
I congratulated the happy couple when I received the invitation to the 30th wedding anniversary party of former classmate, Yee Yin (YY) and her husband, Gerald Yong (GY).  We must celebrate such a joyous occasion so I marked that important date in my calendar to ensure that I will be there for their party.

The invitation was made with an insert filled with photos of the couple and I know YY spent much time to create a uniquely designed card for their special celebration.  YY is good with handicrafts and she certainly did well with the invite.

Looking back, it was just like yesterday when they were married in Johor Baru.  Some of us were at the wedding in 1985, proof of which was seen in their old photos.  The point of interest about this couple is GY married YY, who was once his sister’s classmate.  YY and GY are blessed with two children, Maurice, 26, and Lifen, 23.

Our classmates met YY when she joined us in secondary school and our friendship developed as we interacted not only as classmates but also in sports and society activities.  

Now - thirty years later...
She was one of the initiators for our first class reunion and since the three major reunions we had in recent years, YY is still taking the lead in organising mini get-togethers either in JB or across the causeway.

With the convenience of modern technology, our classmates are kept in constant touch, updating each other on various activities, sharing news and nostalgia and of course, silly jokes.  Through these updates, we learnt that YY and GY are fitness enthusiasts who are keen participants in marathons – annually!

YY fondly recalls that their wedding was officiated at the JB registration office in the presence of a registrar and their wedding photo was taken at Campbell Photo Studio.  This studio, like many traditional photo studios in JB, no longer exists now.

I spotted this precious little memento!
GY is familiar with his sister’s former classmates (us!) and this is probably why he’s cool and comfortable around his wife’s friends (also us!)  But he’s a good sport who often send’s YY to meet us for our jalan-makan sessions and when we organised a stay at a holiday resort in Malacca, he also joined us, not just to eat familiar food but also to reminisce by playing nostalgic games like five stones or Batu Seremban!

I’m sure every marriage has its ups and downs but with a great deal of love, support and mutual understanding, YY and GY has struck a balance in their marriage and continues to be as in love as when they were, more than 30 years ago!

On the evening of their celebration, held in a hotel in JB, YY invited us to their suite of rooms after the banquet and there I saw a gigantic poster with a collage of their old photos and mementoes among the anniversary gifts.

At their marriage registration with two witnesses 30 years
ago; yes, they were also present at the 30th anniversary party!
One of their wedding photos was pasted on a yellowed card that reeked of Hallmark sweetness but I couldn’t help feeling happy for YY and GY because the words read: “This day I will marry my Friend; the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, Love …

I’m pleased that YY and GY got it right from the very start.  They were good friends who fell in love with each other and decided to spend the rest of their lives together.  Friendship is a firm foundation for marriage and as they shared interests and supported each other in their individual pursuits, their bond was strengthened.

Checking out their wedding mementos that include
YY's traditional embroidered gown or kwa
While YY would accompany GY to his Toastmasters meetings, GY volunteers to be the logistics officer for YY at artisan bazaars to promote her handicrafts.  And they enjoy running and are still taking part in annual marathons!
. . .
As more of our classmates received invitations to be guests at their anniversary celebration, we talked about the gift we should present to this couple who seemed to have everything.

Rather than give them something they don’t need or want, we boldly asked YY for an idea and she was gracious to say, “No need!” because all she wanted was for all of us to enjoy the celebration with them.

YY and GY on holiday together last year
We know it was just not done to go to such a happy occasion without a gift as a special memento so we insisted on presenting them with something.  Finally YY relented and said they would like a stay-cation, maybe to the place where they first had their honeymoon 30 years ago – Penang!

This helped us to decide on buying them a resort stay in Penang but the choices were endless at this destination.  So I was given the task to identify a hotel that should be suitable for their second honeymoon.

After researching the options, I narrowed down to a choice of heritage hotels that are within walking distance to places of interest in Georgetown, and shared this info with the others for their comments.  The feedback came back quickly and we agreed on a 3day-2night package with breakfast at Hotel Penaga, a heritage boutique hotel.

The marathon running couple!
I picked the Hutton Deluxe Room (with balcony) because the pictures on their website boasted a charming 4-poster bed which should be ideal for this couple.  When I told the hotel reservation staff that this hotel stay was for our friends who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, she took note of it.
. . .

The anniversary celebration in JB kicked off with cocktails in the foyer before the dinner which was held in a nearby banquet hall.  It was also a reunion of sorts as former classmates came from across the causeway and from the north, for this celebration.

YY and GY even had an official photographer to snap photo mementoes and when it was time to proceed into the banquet hall, YY slipped away to change into an evening gown.

We lingered for a bit to look at the display of wedding mementoes like their 30-year old wedding banquet invitation card and photos as well as the kwa or Chinese traditional two-piece embroidered gown that YY wore for their wedding banquet 30 years ago!

The happy couple, thirty years on and beyond!
The entrance to the banquet hall was decorated with a flower arch and typical of weddings, the raised platform (stage) was furnished with a wedding cake and a champagne glass pyramid.

YY and GY, however, did not enter the hall in a formal march but with a casual wave and a walk among the tables to say “Hello” to guests gathered there.  They also did away with the silly food presentation routine and the waiters served the tables in an orderly manner.

Their children, Maurice and Lifen, did a commendable job as the event MC’s and got the evening’s programme going smoothly.  The intimate group of friends and family members laughed at (their own!) familiar faces (hair and clothes too!) among the photos in the visual compilation that marked the milestones in the lives of the anniversary couple’s 30 years together.

She always has the last say, GY?
Later, YY and GY, were invited to cut their wedding cake and pour champagne into that pyramid of glasses.  And in the tradition of Chinese weddings, they raised their glasses for three toasts, accompanied by raucous yells of “Yum Seng!”

One of our classmates, who is a proficient pie maker, helped to make little chicken pies that were prettily packed as door gifts to guests.  After distributing the pies to everyone, there were still a number left over so YY let us share them among us!

As I’m writing, I receive a message from YY saying:  “Thanks Peggy.  Just landed. Now back home,” in reply to my welcome back message because they were due back from Penang today.  She shared a few photos from what looked like a memorable trip.

Thanks, YY and GY, for letting us be part of your 30th anniversary celebration.  Our wish for you is more love as you cherish each other in the next 30 years and beyond!  God bless.

Friends celebrating with YY at the banquet table!
Friends celebrating with YY in their suite of rooms!
GY and YY enjoying our gift to them at Hotel Penaga, Penang, for their second honeymoon

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