I believe most Chinese in Malaysia are familiar with this profession called wedding chaperon a.k.a. Dai Kam Jie (in Cantonese). They have been seen in many traditional as well as contemporary Chinese weddings.
Wedding chaperon, is usually an auspicious married lady with living spouse, children, and grandchildren. She is also a quick thinker, has sense of humor, good at auspicious speeches, and well-versed in all Chinese wedding traditions, customs, and rituals. The wedding chaperon is traditionally hired by the bride's family to conduct traditional wedding ceremonies. In the modern era, I believe either side of the wedding couple's families can hire the wedding chaperon whenever they feel in need for one to perform the task.
Now that we all understand who a wedding chaperon is, lets look into what they do as a wedding professional!
Besides saying auspicious words and wishes, the most important requirement for a wedding chaperon is for her to provide guidance to the wedding couple. She will guide them through the traditional ceremonies and rituals such as the betrothal, bridal bed installation, wedding day prayer, and tea ceremony.
Let us further discuss the wedding chaperon's role in the tea ceremony. In most cases, we only think of serving tea to the elders in the family and that is it. Don't we? However, a wedding chaperon will make the ceremony merrier and interesting by introducing us to some unexpected items (will reveal what it is in just a moment). From what I recall from my sister's wedding, the wedding chaperon actually brought with her a pair of bibs for my parents (yay, the baby's bib but with some wedding-related decors on it!). It sounds funny but it carries a good meaning too! The bibs symbolize the long waited son-in-law for the bride's parents. Check out the pictures below! How cute my parents were?
The wedding chaperon not only presented a surprise to my parents, but there was another surprise for our relatives too. During tea ceremony, it is common for other family members and relatives (who are either older generation or relatives that are older than the wedding couple) to bring gifts to the newlyweds. As a token of appreciation, the wedding chaperon prepared some gold coins (usually a round-shaped chocolate wrapped in gold foil) for the newlyweds to present to the elders. The gold coins symbolize good fortune for those who wished or bought a gift to the newlyweds. What a loss if we did not hire a wedding chaperon for the wedding? We will not only miss out the fun, but also the meaningful symbols for the wedding!
Passion is an important key to becoming a successful wedding chaperon. It is the passion that motivates oneself to achieve certain level of competency in skills and knowledge of wedding traditions of different dialects in Malaysia. Knowing and be able to communicate in different languages does put a wedding chaperon in good place in the competitive wedding market. That way she is able to cater to greater amount of people and conduct various kind of weddings (not confined to just one market).
I personally think that this is the only profession/business that does not require a lot of media advertisement. A wedding chaperon becomes well known because of the words of mouth from their satisfied customers. A friendly and highly qualified wedding chaperon is highly sought after in Malaysia wedding market. To continue the tradition and retain the talented wedding chaperons, the valuable knowledge of wedding chaperon will then pass down to younger generations either through the mentorship program or some professional courses.
Are you currently looking for a wedding chaperon for your wedding in Malaysia? I have a list of experienced wedding chaperon profiles to share with you. Good luck in your wedding planning!
All pictures belong to author's personal collection.