My wonderfully strange wedding
It was nothing as we had planned and hoped for—and it was beautiful
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Last week, on Good Friday, I married my best friend in his tiny backyard. It was just David, me, and our church pastor all standing about 6 feet away from each other, with about 150 people from all across the nation and the world watching us exchange our vows through a livestreaming platform. When the pastor asked our online witnesses if they would promise to help uphold our marriage, people typed out an enthusiastic “We will!!” in a chat box.
This is how we got married in the midst of a historic pandemic: I had no bouquet, so instead I carried a pair of wooden mandarin ducks wrapped in a yellow silk cloth, which in Korean culture symbolizes fidelity, love, and harmony, because these ducks are known to be monogamous creatures that mate for life. We had no wedding aisle, so we lined a concrete walkway in the backyard with lit lanterns and houseplants. We had no podium, so we stacked a bunch of wooden crates together and draped a white bed sheet over it. We had no photographers, so friends took screenshots of the livestream video.
Nothing happened according to our original plans. My father couldn’t walk me down the “aisle,” but he dressed up in suit and tie and watched me enter the scene through his laptop. Before the ceremony, he sent us a letter filled with a father’s blessings, so David and I met behind a door so David could read the letter out loud and pray for us. We couldn’t have Young Oceans, a worship band, play live as we had planned, but the lead singer Eric Marshall prerecorded two songs into a video that we played during the livestream. We couldn’t have my niece and my cousin’s son be the flower girl and ringbearer, so we tried to walk down my cat Shalom, but the naughty creature meowed her displeasure and wiggled away—which is probably for the best, since for some reason, she’s been hissing at poor David every time she sees him.
In fact, the week of the wedding, Los Angeles was experiencing an unordinary torrent of rainstorms, and even on the day of the wedding, the sky was drizzling intermittently. But that morning, as we looked at the dark clouds looming over us, we just rolled our eyes and laughed. At that point, we had given up all struggles of control as to what we thought our wedding should look like. We just wanted to get married in the eyes of God—and nothing, not even a pandemic, was going to stop us from becoming husband and wife on Good Friday.
God is so kind and good. Despite all our plans continuously falling apart, our little unconventional ceremony turned out extra-special, extra-meaningful, extra-beautiful, all the more so because it happened in the face of adversities. And because people who love us knew what it took to make it happen, many went out of their way to help. A friend express-shipped us all the equipment we needed—a webcam, an LED ring light, tripod, cables—and went on multiple FaceTime calls to help us set it up and do dry runs. Another friend helped organize separate Zoom “reception” meetings with family and plan out the itinerary. My family sent flowers and champagne and a snack basket. My close friends hopped on a Zoom call while I was getting ready and did their hair and makeup with me so I wouldn’t be alone. Most of our friends and family dressed up for the occasion, and some even put on a tuxedo (though who knows what they were wearing from the waist down). Even through a screen, we felt our hearts grow full with these people’s love for us.
It was a wonderfully strange wedding ceremony. I couldn’t see the faces of my loved ones, which meant the only face I looked at was my future husband’s. We were liberated from all the usual stresses of a wedding: Our decorations were minimal and handmade, our dinner was delivered to our door from a local sushi restaurant, and we didn’t have to rush from one event to another or do much cleaning up.
God, in all his sweet wisdom, stripped our wedding of all the Pinterest-envy, the chiffon and the flowers, and unnecessary expenses (an average wedding in Los Angeles costs more than $44,000), and taught us to focus on what our marriage is really about: a man and a woman making a lifelong covenant to commit to one another no matter what, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, even when the entire nation is under quarantine.
Of course, like our wedding ceremony, our marriage will not be perfect. For one, we still have to work on our communication skills. When our pastor pronounced us husband and wife and told David, “You may now kiss the bride,” I suddenly got it into my head that I should fling myself at my newlywed husband. Why settle for a modest peck when you can go full-on Casablanca?
Unfortunately, David did not catch the twinkle in my eye that clearly communicated to him my amorous intentions. Instead, his eyes widened with surprise when I leapt into his arms, and instead of landing a passionate kiss, he almost dropped me and we earned The Sloppiest, Most Awkward First Kiss Award.
Ah well. We have a lifetime to learn how to communicate better.
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