SINGAPORE - Couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year now have a vow renewal event to look forward to when Valentine's Day rolls around. Couples will also, from this year, receive a commemorative marriage certificate for the jubilee wedding anniversary.
These come under a new initiative by the the Registry of Marriages (ROM) to encourage strong marriages.
It follows from a similar vow renewal event last year, which was held in part to celebrate the 55th anniversary of civil marriages in Singapore.
ROM is now making the celebration a permanent event.
Announcing this initiative alongside a picnic to encourage family bonding on Saturday (Sep2), Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said: "I think celebrating their 50th anniversary is just one way of recognising couples and to encourage others to also try to emulate and, in their own way, to reach their own key milestones as well."
The picnic, held at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, was attended by about 1,500 families, including one with 30 members across four generations.
The patriach of the extended family, retiree Teow Sey Hai, 75, and his wife Soh Jock Hoy, 76, have been married for 56 years.
The secret to their lasting marriage: To trust each other, said the missus.
"It helps that our four boys are all very good sons," said Mr Teow, formerly a bus ticket inspector.
Mr Teow said the new initiative by ROM was good and can be encouraging for young couples. "It will set a good example," he said.
In fact, their extended family is so close they go on annual trips together, with 70-odd members piling on a plane to go to Cebu in the Philippines in previous years, and on a ferry to Bintan this year.
Saturday's picnic was organised by Families for Life Council as part of the inaugural My Family Weekend which started on Thursday (aug31).
Families spread their mats on the green, with adults chatting and the children playing in the grass. There were games and bouncy castles, and a night time movie screening.
Families for Life Council chairman Ching Wei Hong said Singaporeans need to be more deliberate in nurturing strong and resilient families by "making time for our family amidst our busy schedules, to initiate regular conversations and bond with our immediate and extended families".
"My Family Weekend marks a first for the Council in a series of initiatives that aims to encourage more Singaporeans to choose family time, and to remind us not to lose sight of what is important in the midst of our busy lives - our loved ones," he added.
Couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year can contact ROM at 6338 7808 or email email@example.com to register their interest for the vow renewal.
Family members can also nominate eligible couples.