Our recent EMD newlyweds Ruth and Edwin had a beautiful intimate minimony that combined both of their Chinese and El Salvadoran heritage. They share their best wedding planning tips especially for those looking to have their wedding in the midst of a pandemic and how they managed to pull off such a stunning ceremony.
Obviously, y’all put a ring on it 💍 tell us your engagement story!
It’s pretty fitting that for an interracial couple, we met across the border in Tijuana, Mexico at the Xolos’ soccer stadium. This first ‘hello’ began a courtship of 2 ½ years, which led to a surprise, but highly anticipated, intimate and heartfelt proposal.
The day Edwin proposed, I had been studying for the biggest exam of my career and took a break to celebrate what I thought was our friend’s birthday.
However, what happened became a life changing event as he got down on one knee, said ‘I love you’ in English and Cantonese, and popped the question with a stunning rose gold, aquamarine birthstone ring! The design was a lotus, which he knew was my favorite flower.
Tell us about your fams 👨👩👧👦 what are your cultural backgrounds and did you two incorporate any cultural traditions into your wedding?
Our parents come from opposite sides of the world. El Salvador is my mother and father’s birthplace and Edwin’s family is from Hong Kong. Edwin and I were also born and raised in different parts of the U.S.
Though I am a Cali girl and he is a Midwesterner, we are both from small towns of around 20,000. Among one of our commonalities, is our appreciation for diversity. Out of pride and love, Edwin and I created the term “Team Chinodorean” to capture the blending of both cultures and our oneness.
Our wedding theme this year was dedicated to honoring my husband’s Chinese heritage and the family that would become my own. For guidance, we spoke with his mom and dad, my sorority sister, and read the East Meets Dress’ blog.
Options to embed an Asian-American theme via décor, attire, and invites abounded. Being lovers of flowers, we included as many of the common Chinese wedding flowers as possible in my bouquet, wedding arch, memory and favor tables.
The Double Happiness symbol made its debut multiple times as can be seen in our invite, masks, cookies, pillows, and photo backdrop.
Wearing red as the bride and groom was also a must. And our family and doggie even joined us in donning cheongsams!
COVID19 Pandemic 🎯 how did your plans and ideas change as a result of COVID?
Though we look back on our wedding as the perfect day, the leading up to it was not without some headaches, heartaches and hiccups because of COVID.
Our original count of 100+ guests, indoor/outdoor wedding venue, Salvadoran pupusas/drinks, Cantonese dishes, tea ceremony, and dusty blue theme was postponed for 2021 when we celebrate our sequel wedding.
This year, we held an intimate minimony instead at my mom’s church parking lot, surrounded by our family of 10. Our bridal party drove by for short and sweet congratulatory waves and wedding treats. A few even hid in a bush to witness the ceremony and first dance.
We were fortunate to be showered with love, excitement, understanding and tons of practical help despite the difference in plans. Lastly, we got to choose a new wedding date…8/8/20, so…hello fortune!!!
Girl meets dress 💃🏻 how did you learn about EMD and why did you choose an EMD cheongsam?
My long-time friend and bridesmaid gifted me my cheongsam. It was simply my job to find the right dress! Thankfully, my husband did a Google search and came across EMD. He was drawn to EMD as a fellow entrepreneur while I obsessed over the selection of striking silhouettes and details. What really got me was how their dresses were named after inspirational women. Aside from choosing the Maxine Bespoke Dress for me and Tang Jacket for him, EMD adorned many members of our wedding.
To thank my Mother, we gifted her with her very own Tammy Bespoke Cheongsam. Wanting to make sure we had a personalized gift for our officiant-friend, the custom chopsticks came in handy. My brother walked me down the aisle which meant the Blue Dragon Tie for him. Not wanting to forget about my sisters, the Cherry Blossom Hairpiece was just the right touch. And lastly, my Phoenix Crown totally upped my look.
Putting your own spin on things 💕 how did you make your wedding more unique and personal to you two?
Often when restaurants would have long wait times, we would choose to do take out instead and simply eat our dumplings in parking lots while seated in our lawn chairs. This inspired our motto “Dumplings for Life”, which we framed on our sweetheart table as a symbol of our way to make the best of situations together.
In addition, the back shoulder of my dress was subtlety embroidered with “I love you” in Chinese as one of us would say these words in Mandarin, and the other replies “I know” in the same language.
Labels with our wedding date and names made our apple cider bottles more memorable favors.
Finally, what better way to break bread together than through our first bite. Instead of a wedding cake we had our cheongsams replicated in cookie form and ate mini versions of our outfits!
The big day 👰🏻 How did everything go on your wedding day?
It went so well I’d do it again next year. Upon reflection, it was the acts of service and kindness that really stood out.
Just to name a few:
- Receiving a phone call from a bridesmaid the morning of to say, “Everything will be perfect."
- My cheongsam, steamed and delivered to our hotel by another bridesmaid.
- Our best man brought us Starbucks that read “Congratulations”.
- Feeling the absence of my deceased oldest brother and having my makeup artist gently pat my tears.
- Our entire family and friends cleaned up the venue to ensure us enough time to take our bride and groom pictures.
- My little sister chauffeured us to my auntie’s property that was graciously shared for gorgeous shots in an orange orchard.
- Our photographer generously added more time to give us a magical experience.
None of these moments were planned, but, they were all nonetheless so touching.
There were also many people that helped shape us before we said “I do” and they are also the ones that are part of our foundation, present, and future.
While you mostly see the two of us in the photos, it was the sacrifice and selflessness of our loved ones that carried us to center stage.
Seeking your wisdom 🙋🏻♀️ do you have any advice for other brides planning an Asian-American wedding during this COVID19 pandemic?
Before the wedding:
- Hire a wedding coordinator! She was a saving grace for helping me to think of things not on my radar, vendor referrals, places to shop, and obtaining necessary items to complete our vision.
- Be adaptable just like in marriage and life.
- Anticipate that plans may constantly change. Keep a larger perspective—the reasons why you are getting married.
- Ask for what you need. Many places were closed like tailor shops. So use your network to specify your needs, follow the leads, and show gratitude for the referrals and services provided during this pandemic.
- Accept all and any help.
- Allow yourself to feel the grief that comes along with any changes to your original wedding dreams.
- Find comfort in your safe person/people, pets, or favorite things.
- Bond with your partner through an activity together to feed your friendship. Wedding planning, especially during COVID can cause wear and tear. To prevent or minimize this, we exercised with Cassy Ho. Check her out on Instagram or blogilates.com
Where to shop for personalized items:
- East Meets Dress for modern cheongsams and Asian-American wedding attire.
- The Knot’s wedding shop has parasols, fans, and cherry blossom favors as well as wedding ring pillows.
- Hobby Lobby carries small, table top dishes with double-happiness symbols.
- Etsy is where we found customized invitations by Esther Siah at The Card Room; a bouquet charm through Cherished Heritage; and wine labels through simplyprettypieces.
- Zazzle Inc., carries a variety of personalized photo backdrops.
Day of the Wedding:
- Write 3 words on a flash card that represent your values for your wedding and hold onto them to keep you grounded and centered.
- Prepare for a different display of happiness and joy. Specifically, consider if you and your partner are postponing physical touch with others this year. You can help your guests prepare by including your wishes in convos or invites.
- Select your team and delegate duties to ensure the day goes smoothly.
After the Wedding:
- Debrief the entire experience with your partner. Highly recommend this if planning a sequel wedding so that you two can review what went well, what you might want to change and overall lessons learned.
- Share your pictures with EMD or your social media to help to inspire other brides and/or grooms.
- Write a review of your EMD experience so that other brides/grooms can feel more confident making their purchases.
- Bride & Groom: Ruth Rodriguez (@shesasouthpaw) & Edwin Lee
- Photographer: Cassy Smith (@cassysmithphotography) | Website
- Asian-American Wedding Attire: East Meets Dress (@eastmeetsdress) | Website
- Wedding Coordinator: Alexandra Buenrostro (@alenyroseevents)
- Makeup Artist: Vanessa Gutierrez (@vanezzy_) | Website
- Hair Artist: Lindsey Navarrette (@hairbylindss_)
- Cookies: Daniel and Jackie (@cookie_ct)
- Invites, Table Displays & Thank You Stickers: Esther Siah (@thecardroom) | Website
- Masks: Spirit Printing Services (@spirit_printing_services) | Website
- Sun Spears and Palm Spears: Luxe B Pampas Grass (@luxebpampasgrass)
- Palm Spears and Palm Leaves: PurxiousbySQ (@Purxiousbysq.shop)
- Earrings: Ilona Rubin, Jewelry Designer (@petitedelights)
- Virtual Pilates Coach: Cassy Ho (@blogilates)