In the olden days, wedding feasts were held in our own homes if we were simple village folks. Only town people who have wedding banquets in Sibu restaurants. Grand ones were held in the Foochow Association Hall in Central Road.
Food was home catered, with lots of relatives coming to cook and serve. These helpers were called Buong Chiew (or Helping Hands - a very nice term actually). When my cousin Huong married Tie Chee Hua, a big party was planned. She was the eldest of the eldest son. Indeed the whole village was invited and close relatives also came from far away, like Kuching and Sibu.
My grandmother's house in Nang Chong was big enough for more than 15 tables (150 pax), on the first floor and the ground level. Tables were borrowed from other villagers and they were folded and carried on shoulders by cyclists. Chairs and benches were also borrowed and carried in the same way. There was no trolley, no trishaw, just bicycles. Honda Motor bikes had not arrived yet. Seeing young people riding a bicycle and carrying a table top skilfully like a circus act was very exciting. What a lovely sight!!
A motor launch was hired by the Tie family (bride groom's family) for the big occasion, and other motor launches also arranged to arrive at the right time for this special occasion. I think the boat owners also prepared themselves to fetch the invited guests after two or three oclock, a little kindred kind of gesture. Boats normally only made one journey up the river to Sibu and one journey down the river to berth for the night.
The Foochows did not have the luxury of owning their own long boats like the Malays and the Ibans.
We depended on "public river transport".
The photo above actually indicates the Foochow Custom of sending off a daughter on her wedding day. The sedan chair, the motor launch, the trishaw, or whatever vehicle was used to carry the bride and the groom away must do a ritual called "Three Forwards and three backwards". In Foochow it is "San Jin San Turg" But the Kutien would say "San Jin See Hui Tau". I will need to verify this again.
The motor launch on this occasion had to move forward once and then backward once. This ritual was repeated two more times.
The ritual is a must to say that the daughter is reluctant to leave her family for her future family. And it is also to provide an opportunity for the bride's family to "retain" the family's fortune. A piece of red cloth, One and One Quarter Meter (I may be wrong) would be placed at the bow of the boat and a male sibling,usually the eldest, would pull this red cloth away as the boat pushed forward and away one final time. This is called "Retaining of the Fortunes in the family" or "Bek ye lick".
Many close relatives, especially uncles, will be performing the ritual and overseeing that everything was proper. Hence you see my Third Uncle on the jetty or "peng tieu", while my Second Uncle and probably (not in the picture) my other cousins and Uncle Pang Ping and Aunty Sia on the pontoon (doh tau) sending off the bridal party.
I remember all the good food that day, especially the Peaches and Longans, and of course all the Pop chui or aerated water.
The Wedding Date was 29th November 1958.