This is a guest post by my very own sister, Crystal. Enjoy!
Hello! This is the bride speaking! I wanted to take over my brother’s blog so I could gush to the world about my beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime, perfectly-us, wedding ceremony and reception.
Obi and I have known each other almost 8 years, and had been dating for a majority of that time. We met in college at UCLA through our mutual involvement with the University Catholic Center. I was a freshman, he was a Junior, and he had this uncanny ability to help me be more myself than I ever let myself be. Cool, huh? After years of adventuring and growing in the heart of LA, Obi eventually found his way up to Seattle, WA for graduate school at the University of Washington. A few more years of studying, adventuring, and growing, and my heart got tired of the long distance. I landed a dream job at Starbucks doing product development, and moved my life out to the pacific northwest. A year and a half in, we were engaged, and now we’re married!
I had started a Pinterest board for my future wedding some time ago in college – trying not to fill it up too much before I actually got engaged. It definitely helped get the creative juices flowing, but my wedding ended up actually being pretty different from what my board looked like.
Early in our relationship, Obi and I quickly realized that our cultures had a lot in common. Obi is Nigerian American, and I am Chinese (Taiwanese) American. We both value and respect family, and hold tightly on to community. Obi’s family is very well connected to the Nigerian community in Southern California, and my family has its own community of Taiwanese friends and family. When we started wedding planning, we knew we wanted a wedding that would showcase our two beloved cultures, as well as our faith. In the end, I believe that’s exactly what we did, and I couldn’t be more happy.
Our wedding couldn’t have been possible without the love, support, time, dedication, and patience of my loving parents. Obi and I were planning for a SoCal wedding all the way from Seattle. My parents drove to all of our potential venues to pick the right one, and vetted out all of our potential florists, caterers, bakers, etc. Every little detail in the wedding was purposeful and meaningful, and I’m excited to share it all with you!
Before we get started, I also have to thank my awesome older brother, Eric, for taking these beautiful pictures! Eric picked up wedding photography on his own in college, and has been doing it as a side gig ever since. I personally think he’s got great artistic style, but, I’m a little bias.
Okay – now for the pictures!
My bridesmaids and I got ready in the bridal room at the Plaza de Magdalena, where the reception was.
After slipping in to my beautiful wedding gown, my mom (wearing the traditional red familiar in Chinese weddings), fed me some Sweet Soup that she made. Feeding of the sweet soup was a way of wishing us a sweet marriage. Each ingredient had a meaning: sweet lotus seeds symbolized a wish for many children, red dates symbolized a wish for many children, dried longans… also symbolized a wish for many children.
My mom, grandma, and bridesmaids then finished getting ready.
Once all the ladies were ready, I gathered my bridesmaids for a toast. Up until this point, I was nervous, anxious, and still a little bit stressed from the planning. But as I looked around, I quickly realized that this was the big day. And on came the water-works. After recomposing myself and checking my make up again, my bridesmaids prayed a lovely prayer for me, and we went off to find my groom.
We did a quick first look before heading off to the church.
Our ceremony was held at the beautiful Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano. We chose this location because it holds a special place in my spiritual journey. It gave me a lot of my ‘firsts’: first mass, first youth group, first youth conference, first Bible, first prayer. I started attending mass there right when the beautiful Retablo was installed (2007?). My experience at MBSJC led me to completely RCIA during my first year at UCLA, and my Catholic faith continues to shape who I am today. Obi and I were both eager to represent our Catholic faith throughout our marriage celebration.
At this point, you might be wondering why my mom changed from her beautiful red dress into another green, blue, and gold dress, only to later change in to a pink dress! The green, blue gold dress was a special request from my grandmother (maternal). It’s the EXACT SAME dress that my grandmother wore for my mother’s wedding. She still had it in her closet, and my mom actually fit in it! It was awesome, and probably gave my grandma some major flash-backs.
After mass, the bridal party walked over to the Historic Mission to take pictures. Before meeting everyone else at cocktail hour, I stopped by the local Starbucks to pick up an Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato :) Mhmmmm
Our reception was decorated partly DIY style. My awesome crazy-talented cousin, Kathy (bridesmaid), designed and cut/printed out my cake topper using a 3D-printer. My dad hand-cut over a hundred “shuang-hsi” paper cut-outs of all different sizes to scatter throughout the reception area. “Shuang-hsi” (directly translating to ‘double-happiness’) is a special Chinese character used for marital happiness. One half of the symbol is the character for ‘happiness’ and together the two “hsi” represent the wish for the bride and groom to find everlasting happiness in their marriage. This symbol was on everything from the mass program to the table settings, doors, and menu cards.
The reception itself included both Chinese and Nigerian traditions. We had a Kola nut blessing, Chinese tea ceremony, Nigerian money dance, and traditional clothing as well.
Obi and I gave each of our parents a gift for everything and everything that they have done for us. In the middle of my thank you, I teared up again!
And of course, my brother’s photobooth was a hit.