From ‘Undertaker couple take coffin-themed wedding photos’, 12 July 2015, article by Wong Kim Hoh, Sunday Times.
…Many people will cringe and cower but Ms Jenny Tay, 29, and her fiance Darren Cheng, 30, have opted for a casket as a prop in a series of pictures taken for their wedding in October. Their reason? They are dead serious about their profession and their wedding. Both are in the funeral trade. “Our business is very much a part of our lives,” said Ms Tay, managing director of Direct Funeral Services. “When couples take wedding pictures, many of them think of something significant and meaningful to them – their favourite cafe, the place where they first met.
…Two geomancers contacted told The Sunday Times that the pictures are acceptable because of the couple’s profession. Mr Danny Cheong from Cheong Geomancy Consultancy said: “It’s all right if it’s a new coffin.”
Ms Yvonne Teh from Five Arts Geomancy Consultancy agreed and said: “Many Chinese businessmen consider coffins lucky because the Chinese word for ‘coffin’, guan cai, can also mean official and wealth. In fact, many people keep little coffins as good luck charms.“
Geomancer Adelina Pang, however, said that, while the pictures are fine as keepsakes, the couple should not display them at their wedding reception. “It is taboo for many people and will turn them off,” she said.
Before the coffin couple decided to up the ante and bury the concept of traditional wedding photoshoots once and for all, our superstitious uncles and aunties already had grave misgivings over ‘black-themed’ weddings. In a tragic newlywed double-death in 2010, there were those who believed that the choice of colour at the wedding ‘sealed their fate’. One should also not drive anywhere near a cemetery on your big day, in case the supernatural powers that be decide to ruin it for you in the most ironic way possible – by sending your salon crashing headlong into a tombstone. That doesn’t stop come couples from taking their wedding shots in a cemetery, though. You can still have your photoshoot at Bukit Brown before it gets bulldozed over.
If not something morbidly ‘pantang’, people also tut-tut at photoshoots which were considered ‘too sexy‘. Some of these pre-nuptial erotica, instead of coming off as ‘sensual’, may turn out be a campy, unintentionally comical disaster. Like this groom rowing a wooden raft clad like he just came out of a steaming hot bath ready for sex. I have no idea what the bride is doing. Acting as a sail, perhaps.
While nervous relatives would go ‘CHOOYY!’ at the idea of a bride and groom locked in loving embrace in a coffin, one mustn’t forget that couples already spew the taboo ‘D’ word when they exchange wedding vows during solemnisation. Death and love is a couplet celebrated in literature and poems since time immemorial. The star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet were doomed from the beginning, and since then, you can’t discuss true romance without mentioning death, like wine and cheese, or steak and potatoes. Married folks talk about ‘growing old together’, and ‘holding hands’ at their deathbeds. This undertaker couple decided to embrace mortality and transform a grisly image into a declaration of, well, their undying love. In 1961, a grieving man literally married his ‘corpse bride’ before her funeral. She died in a fatal accident before what would supposedly be the happiest day of their lives. What else could you describe such an act other than that of a ‘die-hard romantic’?
Not everyone considers the final resting place before you’re burnt to ash inauspicious, though. Some choose to lie in coffins and ‘play dead’ to cleanse themselves of ‘bad karma’. Others get excited when they see the corpse box and start scribbling down numbers for 4D. When LKY died, the numbers of the licence plate of his hearse were sold out (it was 8898, by the way). There’s no reason why Singaporeans should be uncomfortable with death, given how we like to punt around it. Couples in the same profession take shots of themselves in labs (scientists), libraries (writers), operating theatres (surgeons), or in front of a classroom blackboard (teachers). Why can’t two lovebirds in the funeral business do the same, exuding gothic chic with a coffin?
I wonder what Jenny and Darren’s wedding banquet would be like. A bride in the UK once arrived at her wedding in a coffin, herself in the funeral trade. Maybe they’ll come down the aisle in a hearse, with guests, dressed like they were going to a funeral, tossing joss paper instead of confetti. The wedding favour, instead of a boring keychain, could be a tiny tombstone, engraved with their names. The video montage, instead of a tired story of their lives from infancy to couplehood, an imagined timeline reversal from the point of their sacred union onwards, till a glorious finish, six feet under.
They should choose their guests carefully though; you don’t want that distant uncle with a bypass ending up in a coffin himself after the reception.