19 couples will taste 'sweetness of marriage'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2008, 12:00am

Nineteen couples who have overcome setbacks such as physical disabilities and Sars will take centre stage on Saturday at a mass wedding ceremony to celebrate the triumph of love over adversity.

The ceremony, sponsored by the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong, Eaton Hotel and wedding dress company Cite du Louvre, is for wedded couples who were unable to hold their own celebrations because of physical impediments or parental opposition.

Some are mentally retarded, others deaf or blind. Some pairs survived cancer, Sars or strokes.

At a rehearsal yesterday, Susan Lee Sau-kwan, YMCA communications officer, said: 'Most of our couples regret not being able to throw a traditional Chinese wedding banquet, or wear a western-style wedding gown. The mass wedding will allow the pairs to relive the sweetness of marriage.'

Cheng Chun-ping and Gee Wun-yee, both severely affected by cerebral palsy, hastily tied the knot 11 years ago but had always longed for a proper wedding.

'She had to sneak out to marry me at the marriage registry because her mother would not let her out,' recalled Mr Cheng. Intense disapproval from their families forced the wheelchair-bound couple to skip a ceremony, although their affection has softened their families' stances.

Spinal muscular atrophy sufferer Poon Ka-wing proposed to his epileptic wife, Yuen Lai-sze, on a local radio programme in 2006. Although their union was widely reported at the time, the pair never had a proper wedding banquet.

Ms Yuen admits that she had reservations, but is satisfied by married life so far. 'Back then, I used to wonder, 'Could we make it?' But I trust fate, and believe that being happy is the most important thing.'

Volunteers in Cathy Pacific's I Can Fly programme and the marine police are also involved in the programme. 'I hope that the spirit of volunteering will extend beyond young people to corporations,' said YMCA co-ordinating secretary Li To-sang.