Despite a modern society, this Ipoh bride chaperone is keeping alive the tradition to help couples have a happy marriage

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

IPOH, July 18 — Cheah Yoke Kam comes from a family of bride chaperones or dai kam jie.

Beginning with her mother, Cheah’s two younger sisters and two sisters-in-law are also involved in the traditional practice.

The 65-year-old, who hails from Kuala Kangsar, said her mother had been coaxing Cheah to join her for several years before she (Cheah) finally took on the role in 2008.

“I was reluctant to join her initially as my only son was still young and I needed to devote my time to him.”

“I finally gave in and joined her when my son was in his teens as I could spare some time then.”

A bride chaperone’s job is to guide the wedding couple through all the traditional customary ceremonies and rituals, particularly during the day of the wedding.

To be a bride chaperone, one must have a bubbly character. — Picture courtesy of Cheah Yoke Kam
To be a bride chaperone, one must have a bubbly character. — Picture courtesy of Cheah Yoke Kam

To be a bride chaperone, one must have a bubbly character. — Picture courtesy of Cheah Yoke Kam

Speaking to Malay Mail when met at her home, Cheah said her sisters, who joined their mother earlier, played a huge role in making Cheah join them.

“My sisters said mother was not getting any younger and if I joined her, I could assist her in the ritual.”

When she first started, Cheah said she was always worried that she could not perform her role well.

“Like any newbie on the job, it took me some time to get used to it.” she said.

“Luckily for me, my sisters arranged the schedule as such where I only go to either a bride or a groom’s house to perform as it involves less ritual although normally bride chaperones will undertake the ritual at the bride and groom’s house.”

Eventually, Cheah got used to it and has no problems performing the ritual now.

You may wonder why the need for a bride chaperone in a wedding.

With the passing of time, Chinese traditional practices are slowly forgotten or watered down.

Hence, the bride chaperone’s role is to guide the bride and groom’s family on the correct ritual to undertake.

This is to ensure a happy, abundant and fulfilling marriage.

The role of a bride chaperone is to guide the bride and groom's family on the correct ritual to undertake in a wedding. — Picture courtesy of Cheah Yoke Kam
The role of a bride chaperone is to guide the bride and groom's family on the correct ritual to undertake in a wedding. — Picture courtesy of Cheah Yoke Kam

The role of a bride chaperone is to guide the bride and groom's family on the correct ritual to undertake in a wedding. — Picture courtesy of Cheah Yoke Kam

Cheah said bride chaperones were especially busy during the lunar months of August to November as those were the months considered auspicious for weddings.

“We are usually fully booked during those months,” she said, adding that to ensure the desired bride chaperones are booked, their services are procured months before.

“Normally, the family will pay us a sum as down payment with the balance to be paid on the day of the wedding.”

On the qualities to be a good bride chaperone, Cheah said one must have a bubbly character.

“As weddings are happy occasions, the bride chaperone plays an important role in ensuring a conducive mood.”

“They must also offer good words for the bride and groom, the family and other guests who attend the ritual.”

A bride chaperone, said Cheah, should also have a loud voice.

“To maintain my voice, I take cooling tea after each job. As I need to talk a lot during the ritual, I cannot afford to lose my voice.”

Asked about the prospect of being a bride chaperone, Cheah said it still looks good despite the advancement of society.

Bride chaperone Cheah Yoke Kam said she joined her mother after years of persuasion from her mother and sisters. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Bride chaperone Cheah Yoke Kam said she joined her mother after years of persuasion from her mother and sisters. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Bride chaperone Cheah Yoke Kam said she joined her mother after years of persuasion from her mother and sisters. — Picture by Farhan Najib

For those interested to be a bride chaperon, Cheah also takes in apprentices.

Cheah said she has so far taken in three apprentices.

“Once they sign up, they will be provided with a guidebook that will list down what a bride chaperone needs to do and what to say during weddings.”

“I will also take them under my wing for practice and once they are confident of going into it alone, they can do so,” she said, adding that the charges of a bride chaperone range between RM800 and RM1,300 for each job depending on the location.

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