YANGON—On Sunday, a wedding in Myanmar’s capital became the talk of the town.
Among those who gathered to see the son of senior National League for Democracy official Win Htein tie the knot in Naypyidaw were President U Htin Kyaw and first lady Daw Su Su Lwin, Vice President U Henry Van Thio, cabinet members, chief ministers and an assortment of tycoons.
But perhaps the star guest was State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
With such a high-profile guestlist, the wedding of Hsan Win Htein, executive chairman of Myan Win Holding Ltd, and Hnin Yadana Zaw set social media alight.
The nuptials were held at the M Gallery Hotel—owned by tycoon Max Zaw Zaw—from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m and sponsored by Max Group.
President U Htin Kyaw joined in the applause as the bride and groom were married, while the Mandalay Division chief minister, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, and his wife administered the wedding rings to the couple.The vice president congratulated the pair with wedding garlands. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered the wedding speech to the bride and bridegroom. An attendee described the lavish reception as “like a state function with presents.” Pictures of the reception went viral online and drew awestruck comments.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi seemed to share in the awe. During her speech, the State Counsellor offered a light-hearted take on attending such a huge reception.
“In Myanmar tradition, a wedding ceremony is not a spectacle like this, but it has become essential in the modern age.” Later she added that, “Wedding gifts are not our tradition, to my understanding.”
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke about how in a traditional wedding ceremony, the bride and groom simply offer food to their elders as a way of announcing that they are becoming man and wife. “We should reconsider which of our customs are to be maintained and what new trends should be adopted [by society],” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
Somewhat farfetchedly, some Facebook users negatively compared Sunday’s wedding with the famously opulent 2006 marriage of the daughter of then military dictator Than Shwe. At that ceremony, Thandar Shwe was adorned with glittering jeweled clusters in her hair and strings of diamonds.
U Win Htein told reporters in Naypyidaw that he didn’t take such criticism seriously and “will not sue anyone, as people will forget about the wedding soon.”
In fact, this was not the first high-profile wedding involving the family of a senior NLD figure. Lower House Speaker Win Myint’s daughter got married in February last year, but the wedding invitation cards clearly stated “No Wedding Gifts, Please.”
Asked to comment by The Irrawaddy, prominent woman politician Dr. Nyo Nyo Thin recalled that at recent peace talks led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Kayah State, the de facto national leader urged her compatriots to be frugal, saying the country needed to save money. She even recommended that citizens lodge complaints against NLD-appointed ministers suspected of corruption.
But NLD lawmaker U Min Thu, who attended the wedding, took U Win Htein’s side of the argument, claiming that such a ceremony would be within the means of any middle class family from Yangon or Mandalay. Some people deliberately sought to attack wedding ceremonies attended by high-profile figures, U Min Thu said.
Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye San caused outrage recently after recklessly urging locals to eat less in order to bring down food prices and inflation.
Many Netizens were quick to point out that Win Htein’s son was being thrown a lavish wedding soon after the comments by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Mon State chief minister. After the reception, sources close to U Win Htein said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s comments about the lavish scale of the wedding had made him uncomfortable.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated that the wedding ring was administered by First Lady Daw Su Su Lwin. In fact it was administered by Mandalay Division Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung and his wife.