Living away from the UK can leave one feeling slightly out of touch with what is going on at ‘home’. Having friends in Singapore from all across the world allows for a rich, cultural melting pot of discussion over wine, curry, noodles or a BBQ. We talk about anything and everything but the day to day news from our home countries can sometimes get overlooked in favour of topics which feel more relevant to our lives here.
I feel very lucky to have a fantastically fun group of girlfriends in Singapore from my home country. Never missing an opportunity for a party, the royal wedding was the perfect excuse to get together and celebrate all things British.
Not content with watching the wedding whilst devouring a good old British buffet of scones, jam and cream, sausage rolls and cucumber sandwiches, someone joked that we should wear our wedding dresses to watch the coverage live from the UK. It seemed like a brilliant idea and the perfect way to get into the wedding spirit 6,000+ miles away from home.
As my wedding was ten years ago, there was little chance of me squeezing myself into my own ivory dress. Thank goodness for Lazada. After navigating a fine selection of white gowns for between $30-$50 (yes! true!), I ordered myself the largest meringue-esque dress I could find. Shopping for a wedding dress wasn’t this easy first time around!
The dress arrived and, whilst my 5-year old daughter thought it was magnificent, I was reminded of the old saying: you get what you pay for. I’m not really sure what I was expecting. But it was perfectly grotesque and certainly didn’t disappoint in the ‘wow’ department. I couldn’t wait to wear it.
The big day arrived. I pinned myself into the elaborately decorated, synthetic-fabric gown and finished the look with a plastic pink tiara from my daughter’s dressing up collection. I think she was more excited than I was. To her, this was a real-life fairy tale: “You really can grow up and marry a prince Mummy!” My response: “Yes darling but Meghan represents so much more than the helpless girl in fairy tales. She is strong and independent, she is a feminist! She volunteers her time to help others! That is why the prince wanted to marry her.”
Weddings are emotional moments; excitement, nerves, anticipation. I felt all of those plus hot, itchy and uncomfortable. The flowers adorning my decolletage had caused a rash. I was definitely looking like a blushing bride and for all the wrong reasons.
After a journey with a very amused taxi driver (who thought he’d picked up a runaway bride) I arrived at the party to see all my girlfriends equally adorned with the finest (ahem!) wedding attire. Big dresses, tiaras, veils, gloves and bouquets. One friend had even had her ‘wedding hair’ done especially. I love that no-one in this group does anything by halves!
It was a fun night; we drank a lot of prosecco, cried as the bride walked down the aisle, sang along to the hymns, discussed Meghan Markle’s dress (at length) and our hearts poured with admiration for Doria Ragland, mother of the bride, who was elegant and graceful as she watched her beautiful daughter marry into one of the oldest families in the world.
Not only did the evening remind me how lucky I am to have such wonderful girlfriends, for me it also signified a new reason to feel proud to be British. The wedding service, with its gospel choir and impassioned sermon, was a blended mix of British tradition and African American culture. The message was one of inclusion and of love. What a wonderful way to celebrate the union of two people who will be remembered not just for their love story, but for being the first royal wedding to embrace and celebrate differences.