Give us the scoop 😉how did you two meet?
Carolyn was born and raised in Massachusetts and I'm from Guangzhou, China and came to the U.S. in 2016 for my master’s degree. Initially, I had planned to go back to China after graduation until I met Carolyn through OK Cupid.
At first, we were a bit hesitant to tell others that we met online but we soon found out that many people we know also used online dating apps. It was also serendipitous that our first date took place on August 4th, which happens to be Carolyn's lucky number (840).
Fun Fact: When Carolyn was little, she was learning how to read at the time and whenever her parents asked her “What time is it?” she would always respond with “8:40” no matter what time it actually was.
We didn’t get married until two years later and decided to choose a wedding date, August 2nd, 2019, close to the day of our first date.
Obviously, y’all put a ring on it 💍tell us your engagement story!
Carolyn planned a sweet proposal on a beautiful Friday evening. She took me to the seaport area for cocktails in the afternoon and then realized that we were running late to get back in time to see the sunset.
Instead of taking the usual 30 minutes to walk from the subway station to Carolyn's proposal location – a small hill in the neighborhood we live in with a skyline view of Boston – we took an Uber from the subway station and made it just in time to the top of the hill at sunset!
By this point, I already had a feeling that Carolyn was going to propose because she was so visibly in a rush and nervous about missing the timing.
When we got to the hill, we were enjoying the golden Boston skyline and Carolyn pretended to take a picture of me but when I turned around, Carolyn had the ring along with my phone in one hand and her own cell phone in the other.
I was quite confused about why so much equipment was needed for a proposal! It turns out Carolyn wanted to record the proposal on my phone but needed her own cell phone to help propose in Cantonese, my mother tongue. It was such a clumsy but super sweet proposal!
You both had a vision for your wedding 🔮how did you come up with ideas?
When we started talking about wedding venues, we both agreed that we wanted to do the wedding and reception separately due to the tight timeline that we had between the engagement and the wedding in order to submit the immigration application before my visa expired.
We both loved Cambridge City Hall because of its rainbow theme and Cambridge city is known for being supportive of the LGBTQ community.
In terms of the reception venue, we were looking for a smaller venue that was classy but homey. The most important thing was for us to feel comfortable.
We decided to go with Alden Castle, which is a very historic building in Massachusetts. When we went there, we immediately fell in love with the gorgeous golden ceiling and hardwood interior. It had an aura of elegance that made us feel fancy in a subtle way yet very cozy at the same time.
Tell us about your fams 👩👩👧👧
Carolyn’s family is American with Polish and Irish heritage and she grew up in Massachusetts. My family and I are from Guangzhou, China.
Besides the traditional Chinese wedding dress and the golden-red color theme, we also incorporated our different cultures in many other ways.
For my side of the family, we tried to make them feel at home as much as possible. We had a traditional wedding tea ceremony on the reception day at the wedding hotel where my parents and the elders in Carolyn’s family attended. In Chinese tradition, the wedding tea ceremony is for the elders in the family to give blessings to the new couple. So it meant so much to me and my parents to have the tea ceremony.
Our first dance song at the reception was sung by Carolyn’s sister and brother-in-law, Jenny and James, in both Cantonese and English, which was such a pleasant surprise for my parents. Jenny and James had spent two months practicing their Cantonese for the song and it came out perfectly.
The guest gift bag design was Chinese culture inspired as well. We printed the “Double Happiness” Chinese wedding symbol - 囍 on the guest gift bags and stuffed it with snacks and Chinese tea that my mom brought from China.
For Carolyn’s culture, we had the traditional father-daughter dances and the longest couple dance at the reception. In Carolyn’s family, there is always an after-party after the reception with the guests and brunch the next morning so we had a lot of fun with that!
Location, location, location 🎯 where did you get married?
We held our civil wedding ceremony first at Cambridge City Hall in Massachusetts in August right before my visa expired so that I could apply for permanent residency before I had to leave the country.
Cambridge City Hall is one block from where we had our first date! Additionally, Carolyn lived in the neighborhood for a year leading up to the wedding, so we often walked by Cambridge City Hall and enjoyed the rainbow benches outside.
We loved how much this location played a big part in our relationship. In addition, the city of Cambridge is known for being very open to the LGBTQ community so we felt more comfortable getting married there.
For the reception that we held later, we chose a location that ended up being close to Carolyn’s alma mater in Boston. During undergrad, she used to walk by and admire the condo complex attached to Alden Castle but didn’t realize that there was an event venue inside as well!
When researching venues for a small family reception Carolyn discovered the space and showed it to me. We both fell in love with the style and history of the Modern Club, which used to be a restaurant when the building was a hotel.
Girl meets dress 💃🏻 how did you learn about East Meets Dress (EMD) and why did you choose an EMD cheongsam?
I found East Meets Dress through Google. We had limited time (three months) from our wedding date to the reception date. I really cared about the Chinese wedding traditions and wanted to find the perfect Qun Kwa, which is the traditional type of Chinese wedding dress.
I tried searching Chinatown, Etsy and everywhere else, but most places required a much longer lead time for handmade Qun Kwas. Luckily, I found the Catherine Dress on East Meets Dress.
The EMD team was very considerate too and after I submitted my measurements, they emailed me with a better size recommendation since the dress tends to run smaller. It was so thoughtful of them to do that and the dress fitted me perfectly and saved me time and stress if it hadn't fit well.
My parents traveled all the way from Guangzhou to attend the reception in November, and they were surprised that I chose something traditional to wear at the reception. Carolyn’s family was blown away by how beautiful the Qun Kwa was. They haven’t seen a traditional Chinese wedding dress before and they thought it was very special.
Putting your own spin on things 💕how did you make your wedding more unique and personal to you two?
Besides the special Cantonese first dance song, tea ceremony, and guest bags, we chose one of our favorite songs “How Long Will I Love You” to be the “Longest Married Couple Dance” at the reception.
Instead of throwing the bouquet, we gave a gift to the longest-married couple at the reception, who have been married for 65 years. We thought that it was very meaningful to show respect and learn the meaning of love from the older couples.
The big day 👰🏻how did everything go on your wedding day?
Our wedding was on August 2nd, 2019 and we both stayed in separate places the night before the wedding–Carolyn stayed with her mom at a hotel in Cambridge and I stayed at my own apartment.
At 6 am the day of the wedding, Carolyn sent an email to me and said how excited she was to see me and to finally be married.
That morning, we went to the hair salon separately to have our hair done and arrived at Cambridge City Hall. Even though it was a civil wedding, we were glad that we did the 'first look'!
It was one of the most memorable moments we had outside City Hall. Carolyn sat on the rainbow bench and waited for me to come to her. She was super excited but also nervous because the ‘first look’ wasn’t planned until the night before and she was worried something would go wrong.
But once Carolyn got there, saw the photographer and heard that I was waiting inside City Hall to come out, all she could think was “this is it, I am going to see my future wife!”.
Then Carolyn was asked to turn away from the doors. She looked up at their family and friends and listened to my shoes click down the stairs.
When we saw each other’s face we just burst into tears. After the wedding, we went to a few different places to do a photoshoot with our families. One of the locations was around Carolyn's college.
We decided to check out the chapel that Carolyn used to go to when she was in school. It is usually closed but surprisingly, it was open and empty that day. We went in there and Carolyn's sister and brother-in-law played The Summons Hymn that brought out everyone's tears.
We knew that we couldn't get married at a Catholic church, which Carolyn's family always wanted her to do. But it meant so much to us that we were at least able to be in the chapel and be with our family on our special day. After the music, Carolyn's father gave us a hug and said: "now I feel like you are married."
Our reception was held a few months after on November 16th, 2019 and we celebrated with 90 guests at Alden Castle in Brookline, MA.
We had the Chinese Tea Ceremony in the afternoon in the hotel room. My mom made traditional wedding tea, and we kneeled down and served the tea to the elders in the family and received their blessings.
The traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony was my favorite memory because in Chinese culture, a wedding must have a tea ceremony to represent the approval of the marriage from the parents.
It meant a lot to us that our parents accepted us as a couple.
My parents gave some pieces of jewelry to us and they brought some gifts from my relatives in China. We felt so supportive that the family in China gave us blessings regardless of their beliefs.
Seeking your wisdom 🙋🏻♀️do you have any advice for other brides planning an Asian-American wedding?
1. Be creative when integrating your cultures together – our first dance song was a Cantonese song and we put a lot of thought into translating it to English and eventually we chose to do it in half Cantonese and English. It was sung by Carolyn’s sister and brother-in-law. It represented both of our cultures and made all our wedding guests from around the world feel welcome.
2. Visit venues in person – We used Google maps to search event venues and booked appointments to see them in person so that we could get a sense of the atmosphere and see if we were comfortable with the venue. To us, being ourselves and being totally comfortable on our big day was super important.
3. Set a theme to help make decisions faster – We set our theme to be red/maroon and gold since they are both lucky colors in Chinese culture and classy and elegant in American culture. Setting a theme color that works for both eastern and western cultures definitely helps and then simply follow the theme color code to design everything you need for your wedding so that your decorations, place cards, invitations, and outfits, etc. all look consistent.
- The Brides: Mia (@chefpangcake) & Carolyn (@watchmecarriethis)