Oh hey all, hope you had a lovely easter holiday break, did you get up to much? I went away to Holland for a few days with some of mine and Mark’s family, you can see some snaps from my trip here. I took a few days away from blogging but have had this wedding on the back of my mind for a while and now I’m finally sharing with you all; this beautiful American Chinese wedding.
How they met
Dean and Emilie both work at Accenture in the same office on different projects. They are from Arlington, VA, Dean’s originally from Charlotte, NC Emilie is from Buffalo Grove, IL. He was on the same project as her best friend. Dean and the best friend (Daniella) were at a birthday party together. Later that evening, Daniella and Emilie had plans to head to another friend’s holiday party. Dean was planning on driving back home but instead offered to give Daniella a ride. She requested that he stopped on the way to pick up Emilie – little did he know this would be the first of their many car rides together!
The engagement story is LONG! Unbeknownst to Emilie, Dean’s father gave him his grandmother’s ring before he moved up to DC in 2012 just in case he met someone special. When the time came, Dean took the ring to a jeweler (who happened to be the brother of classmates from Tech) to reset the center stone into a ring that seemed more fitting. He chose the classic three stone setting since he loved the idea of two individual stones coming together to meet a larger one.
Dean also decided he wanted to propose at a place that meant a lot to Emilie. Conveniently, they had planned on a trip to Taipei, Taiwan for late October to visit Emilie’s extended family. As they prepared for the trip, she had no idea what was about to happen. And again, unbeknownst to Emilie (a theme in their relationship), he had the ring on a chain around his neck the entire 14 hour flight about 2 inches from her face.
Dean had decided to propose on 11/1 because he also liked the idea of two ones becoming something more. It just so happened that 1/11 was the date that he first made Emilie his delicious shrimp and grits as well.
Unfortunately, he had little insight regarding the itinerary but it just so happened that they would be hiking on 11/1… with her mother. Dean debated pushing the pace to lose her or to accept her as a photographer. He went with the latter, but when we reached the peak of the hike and Dean suggested to “play a game of cribbage” she wouldn’t stop talking about bananas.
Finally, Dean handed Emilie a deck of cards and asked her to shuffle. Well this was no ordinary deck of cards. It was printed with a picture of the ring, wine cork from their first date, and had “Em, will you marry me?” on it, which Emilie did not notice since she grabbed it upside down.
Dean had cut an inset out of 42 of the cards and glued them together to make a box. He kept two sets of five cards (10-Ace of diamonds and hearts!) for the top and bottom to represent their anniversary 2/5/14. When Emilie tried to shuffle, she noticed it was stuck. She slipped open the box and saw the ring and the wine cork from their first date! The tears came down and Dean got on one knee and asked her to marry him to which Emilie replied, “Yes!”
The ceremony and traditions (if any)
Tea ceremonies are an engagement tradition in Chinese culture. During the rehearsal, the bride and groom served our parents tea as a sign of our gratitude. In return, they offered us gifts in red envelopes to wish us the best. Our wedding theme was red and gold because these colours symbolise good luck in Chinese culture.
The double happiness symbol is abundant in Chinese weddings. It is literally two happiness characters side by side symbolizing the bride and groom. My dad brought back two prints from Taiwan to hang on the doors of Rixey Manor. It was incredibly important to me to include nuances of Chinese culture in our wedding.
Favourite part of the day
The whole day was an incredible blur – of course getting married is the best part, but I remember a surreal moment as I peeked out the window with my bridesmaids and saw the school bus of 80 guests unloading. It was so hard for me to comprehend all the people that went out of their way to come see Dean and I get married. I felt overwhelmed by the number of people that cared about us.
Also, while getting ready I decided I really wanted to shotgun beers with our guests so I asked a friend to bring a case of beer to the wedding (which he did… in a large gift bag). After the DJ played the last song, I marched everyone outside and 24 of us each shot gunned our beers together. It was hilarious and spontaneous – just how I like it!
Finally, after everyone left Dean and I got the chance to be alone. It sunk in that we were married and we took time to read the vows we’d written to each other.
Easiest part of wedding planning
Saying yes when he proposed!
After picking out the venue, every other vendor was pretty easy to select. I wanted vendors that were familiar with the venue so I looked to the owner of the venue to provide with suggestions, researched a couple, and went with my gut. It definitely worked out!
Hardest part of wedding planning
Picking out the venue! With the internet, there is an overwhelming amount of information. I looked into 40+ venues online and ended up visiting 3. It was helpful that I saw so many online because when I saw Rixey Manor and met the owners, I just knew that their attitudes aligned with mine. At the end of the day, the most important thing to me was that we were getting married and no disaster could ruin that.
Logistics can be challenging since it was so hard to guess what all of our guests would want to do on the day of. We had to estimate who would be booking hotel rooms, taking the shuttle, etc.
Plus ones! It’s a never ending conversation of who should and shouldn’t receive a plus one. Ultimately we knew we wanted a more intimate wedding so unless the guest didn’t know anyone else/traveled from far, we did not grant guests plus ones. We just didn’t want extra people who were strangers to us at our wedding. What we found was that of the people who were granted plus ones, only one person invited a guest!
Is it harder to plan a wedding when the couples are from different faiths/culture etc
We were both fortunate that our parents were not very opinionated – they just wanted us to be happy. However, we both wanted to honor them at our wedding since they are so important to us. We just went with our intuition and did things that felt right to us. For example, in American culture traditionally the father walks the bride down the aisle, but to me my mother is equally important in my life so I wanted both of them to walk me down.
As for the groom, American grooms normally process alone but Dean is incredibly close to his grandmother and we knew she would feel so special walking down the aisle with her grandson so this is exactly what we did. Overall, these were easy touches that we added because we felt so strongly about them. In the end of the day, our wedding was a perfect reflection of our values – family and good food.
Advice to give to other multicultural couples
Luckily we did not have any trouble between our families. Even so, there were points where we argued about wedding details. At the end of the day, it is very important to step back and focus on the big picture. The big picture is your love for one another – not what color the tablecloths are. Compromise and communication go a long way in wedding planning and in life.
Photography: Lieb Photography
Venue: Rixey Manor
The dress: Lazaro
The groom’s outfit: Jos. A. Bank
Groomsmen & bridesmaids outfit and accessory details
Groomsmen: Jos A. Bank + Cole Haan
Bridesmaids: Dessy Group
Food and catering: Caroline Street Catering – Southern food to represent the groom’s roots
Desserts: The Bake Shop for desserts – local to where we live
Wedding favors: Garrett’s popcorn – a Chicago classic to represent the bride
Cake: Baskin Robbin’s ice cream cake – both the bride and groom grew up on ice cream cake for their birthdays
Entertainment: DJ Brennan of Bialek’s Music
Quartet from Mary Washington College – this was probably my smartest money saving move! Hiring student musicians saved a lot of money and I knew any college kid still into music would be exceptionally talented and I was right.
Flowers: Wollam Gardens – another fun money saving move! I knew flowers could get expensive. Wollam Gardens was very affordable. The only caveat was that the flowers had to be local and in season. I told them what colors I wanted and allowed the talented florists to do as they please. They turned out great and were true to our fiscally responsible (I hope!) nature.