Some 52 elderly couples who are all over 65 and have been married for more than 30 years chose to put on wedding dresses for the first time on May 20 and say, “I do” one more time under the vow of “…..for better, for worse…..in sickness and in health….”
On May 20, Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod organized a “Centennial Marriage Ceremony” for 52 elderly couples who had not had the chance to wear formal wedding dresses or exchange their wedding vows in a church when they got married.
The ceremony was held at the Church of All Nations in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong.
Accompanied by the “ring bearer” and the “flower girl,” the elderly couples walked slowly down the aisle, witnessed by their relatives and friends, officiated by Lutheran Pastor Kwan Ying-leong, followed by the vows to each other and exchange of wedding rings.
A Wish Come True with the Wedding Dress
An 84-year-old, Mr. Kwok, and his 76-year-old wife have been married for 48 years. Mrs. Kwok recalled that their wedding was held in a Chinese-style gown. She felt it was refreshing and looked beautiful to wear a wedding dress to church.
Mrs. Kwok hoped to have the opportunity to wear it, and now she finally got her wish realized. They admitted that they seldom quarreled, even if they disagreed occasionally, one would take the initiative to step back. The two agreed to accommodate and respect each other is the way to get along.
84-year-old Mr. Kwok and his 76-year-old wife have been married for 48 years. (Courtesy Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod)
Mr. Kwok, recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, is finding it more and more difficult to move around than before. Mrs. Kwok takes good care of him and accompanies him everywhere. Mr. Kwok could not help but praise his wife for her kindness and promised to continue to treat her sincerely and love her for the rest of his life.
Mrs. Kwok hopes that they can be healthy and expect to take care of each other all the time.
Mr. Ching, 78, and his 74-year-old wife have also been married for 48 years. They met each other via a friend’s introduction. Since Mr. Ching was studying in Canada then and later worked there, Mrs. Ching took the bold decision of “where the needle goes, the thread follows” and went to Canada on her own to marry Mr. Ching there. They kept everything simple and became a couple without wearing a wedding dress.
Mrs. Ching said this could compensate for her regret and give her another chance to make a wedding vow to her husband. She thinks it is significant. She said tolerance is prime when it comes to getting along, and one should never try to magnify the other party’s shortcomings. She also said that it is a lifelong union, no matter what happens to the other party.
Secrets to Getting Along for More Than Half a Century
Uncle Yip, 84, and Granny Fok, 78, have been married for 55 years and have two sons and a daughter. The two are now into their emerald wedding.
Recalling the wedding scene back then, Granny Fok said with a smile that she only wore a skirt and gown. Although she had been to a photo parlor to take pictures with the wedding dress on, she had never tasted the feeling of wearing one and exchanging vows in a church.
Now she has the opportunity of wearing it for the first time in front of their children and holding her partner’s hand in the church to exchange the vow; she feels excited. Uncle Yip said this ceremony is significant, an experience that even “money can’t buy.”
(L) 84-year-old Uncle Yip and 78-year-old Granny Fok have been married for 55 years and have two sons and a daughter; (R) 78-year-old Mr. Ching has been married to 74-year-old Mrs. Cheng for 48 years. (Courtesy Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod)
During the pandemic, Granny Fok suffered one accidental fall and was admitted to a nursing home as she could not take care of herself.
Uncle Yip admitted that he was very worried about her at the time. Now the pandemic is over, the two finally have more time together and get closer to each other.
They believe that the way to get along is to face problems honestly and bravely tolerate each other.
Uncle Yip is very grateful to his wife for caring for the children and keeping the family in order so that the children can grow up healthily.
On the other hand, Granny Fok appreciates her husband’s hard work and is pleased he did not acquire the bad habits of gambling, smoking, and drinking.
Lau See-fan, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service, said that the elderly born in the 1930s and 40s, most of them had been very busy earning their living and had a hard life.
Marriage ceremonies may have been limited to a gathering of close friends and relatives for a “more decent meal,” and that’s all. It is overly extravagant to be able to wear a wedding dress and hold a wedding in an auditorium.
He hoped that the ceremony could fulfill their long-cherished wish, look back at the emotional experiences, the time of mutual support, regain the warm moments, and make their lives more complete.
In addition, the dedication of the elderly to their families and their contributions to society over the years has enhanced the public’s understanding of the value and meaning of marriage.