Part II: The Wedding They Never Had

Continued from Part I // Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve asked my Grampy to tell me stories about when he was younger. Some of them make me sad, some make me appreciative. But one in particular that stuck with me was when I asked about his and my grandmother’s wedding day.

My grandparents got married in 1959, at the start of the great Chinese famine. They’d been assigned as laborers to work in an impoverished rural village, thousands of miles away from home. On their big day there were no rings, no cake, no family around them. They simply filled out some paperwork, splurged on a few pieces of “celebratory” candy to share with fellow workers, and moved their two cots into the same government-assigned room, pushing them together to form one.

Over my grandparents’ lifetime, various circumstances separated them often for years at a time. They worked across the country from one another in China, and again after immigrating to the US. But every step they took apart was in hopes of getting closer to their dreams of a better future for their family. And for that, I’m forever grateful. Their commitment and sacrifices inspire my relationships, my work ethic, my deepest values—and I wanted to celebrate them they way they deserved by surprising them with the wedding they never had, 60 years later.

A wedding 60 years in the making

60th anniversary wedding party chinese

At the end of the aisle, a floral arch framing the character for double happiness (which was also incorporated in Nick & my Chinese tea ceremony). I loved the traditional bright red color of Chinese weddings mixed with understated touches like velvet, burgundy and champagne gold.

chinese wedding decor flower arch double happiness sign

wedding flower girl baby walker cart

Great granddaughter Nori was the flower girl in her handmade “something blue” Chinese inspired party dress (this Etsy seller was amazing!). She froze seeing all the new faces and took several minutes to stare at the baby boys in attendance, so mom and dad coaxed her down the aisle with her beloved stuffed bunny.

chinese baby girl traditional dress cheongsam qipao

baby flower girl walker chinese wedding
flower girl chinese dress qipao cheongsam tutu

I got a little emotional walking my grampy down the aisle. His friends from the senior home broke out in applause so I guess he decided to wave : )

My grandma beamed with pride while accompanied by my two brothers, and all I could hear while she came down the aisle was her boasting, “these are my grandsons!” She wore my birdcage wedding veil that I DIY’d and wore when I got married, and Grampy wore Nick’s bow tie from our wedding as well.

granddaughter grandfather chinese wedding anniversary
grandma grandkids wedding anniversary party
Bardot lace dress xs (TTS; fits a tad loose on me); more colors – also in white

Since this wedding was a surprise, I didn’t mention vows, but rather asked my grandparents if they could write down a few sentences about each other while reflecting on their 60 years together.

grandparents 60 wedding anniversary party exchange vows

What they ended up saying to each other were heartfelt memories looking back on their lifetime together, and sharing their immense gratitude for one another.

chinese grandparents wedding anniversary photosgrandparents wedding anniversary chinese party

My dad then guided them in exchanging traditional rings and vows (to which they both shouted resounding “I do”s!).

immigrant grandparents wedding anniversary party

The happy couple!

grandparents wedding chinese anniversary partychinese wedding party red cake dessert table

Our talented Vendors

Living in Boston, I didn’t know where to start planning an event in Los Angeles. After asking on Instagram for suggestions, I discovered Davina of Made and Co thanks to you guys! Even though we had never met in person, Davina & I connected right away on so many levels and I might’ve cried a few times during our first phone call. She’s so talented but more importantly has the biggest heart, and went above and beyond researching and crafting an event that blended the traditional and modern. She also brought together a very creative and talented team of vendors who worked long hours to help make this day truly special for me and my grandparents. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to this wonderful group!

Event design & styling: Davina of Made and Co. Additional help by Sera.
Floral design & venue: The Flower by Yoori. Yoori owns a flower shop in LA Koreatown that can also be rented out to host small gatherings and celebrations!
Photography: James of Perpixel Photography
Diamond Anniversary Cakes: Candy Apple Cakes (also white rice cakes w flowers) + Sweetlee Made
Desserts
including wedding cookies, tarts and bonbons: Jen Tee Bakes
Laser cut decals & characters: Letters to You
Programs, menus, cards: Paper Haven Ink

chinese wedding design decor double happiness
los angeles wedding florals flower arch

The Chinese character 喜 means happiness. Traditionally for weddings, two of these letters are melded together as one “double happiness” symbol to represent an everlasting union between the couple—so fitting for a marriage that has lasted 60 years and counting!

red chinese wedding cake anniversary party los angeles

A regal cake adorned with cranes (which symbolize longevity) amidst a table of treats almost too beautiful to eat.

Thoughtful details including laser cut double happiness stickers applied to each glass and ribbons around the chopsticks.

chinese asian wedding design chopsticks place table settings

Per recommendations, I went with Panda Catering and loved them from the initial consultation to the food to the service, thanks to Adam and Annie. Their braised short rib and Chilean sea bass were both big hits and we served plenty of (chicken garlic) noodles to symbolize longevity. My grandpa doesn’t have much of an appetite in his older age so I asked the caterers if they could make his favorite comfort food, sautéed rice cakes (which wasn’t on their list of offerings) – well they delivered, and Grampy even asked for all the leftovers!

los angeles chinese party food panda catering
white rabbit candy chinese wedding party favors

Chinese candies as a nod to their original wedding day 60 years ago.

extra petite grandparents wedding

A sign of a successful evening – Grampy proudly capturing “content” to showcase on his social media ; )

Leave a Comment

53 Comments

  1. Dr. Zoya wrote:

    Congratulations JEAN

    to your grandparents! What a sweet celebration! I especially love all the custom touches, like the crane cake and special-ordered rice cakes.

    Posted 11.18.19 Reply
  2. STEVEN HERE wrote:

    HI Jean – this is SO beautiful. I have been in tears while reading this whole post. Thank you for sharing this with your readers,
    THANKS DEAR
    CHEERS

    Posted 11.18.19 Reply
  3. Mia wrote:

    Wow! what an amazing wedding. Congratulation to the couple on their 60th wedding anniversary. I really liked the flowers choice and the cake looks great.

    Posted 9.27.19 Reply
  4. Madison wrote:

    This is absolutely beautiful and thoughtful. What a wonderful way to celebrate your grandparents and the impact they have had on your life and to bless them with yet another special memory that they can share together. Gorgeously executed even in the smallest details.

    Posted 9.4.19 Reply
  5. Oona wrote:

    So delighted for your grandparents that the celebration you planned reflects the stories they have shared. There is no greater comfort in old age than to know you’ve been heard, understood, and honored. Thank you for sharing this lovely celebration of two extraordinary people with us.

    Posted 9.3.19 Reply
  6. Jamie wrote:

    This is just so beautiful in so many ways. Both posts made me tear up. I love everything about this. ❤️

    Posted 8.31.19 Reply
  7. susan r rawls wrote:

    What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes. So sweet 🙂

    Posted 8.30.19 Reply
  8. Elisse wrote:

    I’m literally crying and I’ve never even met your grandparents. Thank you for sharing and that is such a thoughtful, sweet idea to do this for them.

    Posted 8.29.19 Reply
  9. xiaomi wrote:

    i love this! what a thoughtful, beautiful thing to do for them!!
    ps sauteed rice cakes are the best!

    Posted 8.29.19 Reply
  10. Fion wrote:

    Shouldn’t have read this at work as I was shedding a few happy tears. Amazing job Jean!

    Posted 8.29.19 Reply
  11. Annie wrote:

    This is seriously the sweetest thing ever, I love this!

    Posted 8.29.19 Reply
  12. This is so adorable! So lovely!

    Posted 8.29.19 Reply
  13. Sunny wrote:

    This is so beautiful. Love all the thoughtful touches and the mix of traditional east and new world west, the festive red, baby Nori as the lucky something-blue. Your grandma in photos in both a red dress and white one. The creamy bunny candies (my mom loves those, they always make me nostalgic!). Reusing some things from your own wedding like the bowtie, really completes the circle.

    What a wonderful tribute to your grandparents, to show off their proudest achievements: their family. What wonderful photos for Nori to have and treasure as she grows up!

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  14. Rosie wrote:

    Love it all!

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  15. I was passed out from the cuteness of this whole thing. You did such a fabulous job pulling this wonderful event together! <3

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  16. Denise Kneeland wrote:

    Perfect in every way. A great tribute to special people. You did good!

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  17. Megan wrote:

    The whole story made me teary eyed. How thoughtful of you to give them the wedding they were never able to have. I wish them well on their journey together.

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  18. Congratulations to your grandparents! What a sweet celebration! I especially love all the custom touches, like the crane cake and special-ordered rice cakes.

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  19. Maureen wrote:

    Congratulations Jean on a job well done. Your grandparents are so special and hearing their story really says a lot about their love. I am so glad you were able to do this for them and how fun that your Grampy is on social media. So cute!

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  20. Preeti wrote:

    Long time reader and first time commenting….this is so, so, incredibly sweet. You are such a sweet granddaughter and this is truly amazing. Love this post and everything you did for your darling grandparents!

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  21. kw wrote:

    this is so sweet! what a wonderful gift to them and such a special story.

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  22. emaillinny wrote:

    Can you re-link the Etsy seller for Nori’s dress?? I’m looking for something like that but the link didn’t work. Thanks!

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  23. Jade wrote:

    Absolutely Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  24. Janice wrote:

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandparents! I cried while reading it! It made me think of my parents, who married in front of a judge, in simple clothes, with no family around, just a friend to act as a witness. Would love to do this for them someday.

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  25. im wrote:

    This is so cute and sweet. Thank you for sharing it. Could I ask where the red lantern on the arch is from? thank you!

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
    • Mimi wrote:

      What a beautiful ceremony! Your grandparents’ story and love is really inspirational. Thanks for sharing and I wish your grandparents great health and happiness. Btw you look sooo much like your grandpa 🙂

      Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  26. valeri pighini wrote:

    Jaw dropping Jean. Absolutely beautiful. OMG the cake! And the cookies!!! What a beautiful table setting too. What a sweet, heartfelt gathering for the whole family. Thank you so much for sharing Jean. Love, Val

    Posted 8.28.19 Reply
  27. Diana wrote:

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  28. Nancy wrote:

    Oh my goodness Jean, this was such a beautiful post! Your Grandparent’s story reminds me of mine so much. Whenever I talk to them about their experiences back in China brings me to tears and makes me so appreciative and thankful for their strength and perseverance in wanting to build a better life for our family! I love how you incorporated traditional pieces with a modern flair, it turned out so beautiful! I hope you and your family had a wonderful time!

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  29. Tiffany wrote:

    This is amazing! Your grandparents are lucky to have a granddaughter who loves them so much. I love Nori’s dress and plan to order something similar for my daughter.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  30. Tina wrote:

    Beautiful. No dry eyes here! Thank you for sharing their love with us.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  31. van wrote:

    such a heartwarming story!. I really love and respect you for doing this for your grand parents

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  32. Nikki wrote:

    So touching and beautiful! Can you share where your grandmother’s dress is from?

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  33. Estie wrote:

    Thank you for sharing the story of honoring and celebrating your grandparents. All beautiful inside and out. In my culture, you are mensch!

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  34. Christina wrote:

    i couldn’t make it past the first sentence without crying. They are amazing and your thoughtfulness in putting this together is a credit to the values they instilled in you. Absolutely beautiful.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  35. Heather wrote:

    Jean, this is so beautiful in all ways. What a love story, and what a beautiful way to honor it.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  36. Aww your grandparents’ story always makes me tear up, Jean <3 🙂 It's so incredibly sweet and heartwarming that they were able to have this ceremony! Love all of these precious photos as well!

    XO, Elizabeth T.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  37. So beautiful! Loved reading about your grandparents’ story and special day (even with the tears in my eyes)! What an amazing gift. XO

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  38. Anonymous wrote:

    So beautiful and heart warming! I love all of the special details.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  39. Bo Xie wrote:

    This touched my heart. I pray I will be able to give my parent a wedding like this because they truly deserve this big celebration in their life.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  40. Phuong wrote:

    Jean, this is so beautiful in every way! Thank you for sharing your grandparents’ inspiring story. Their wedding is so special. I love all the gorgeous details too. You’re a wonderful granddaughter <3

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  41. AW wrote:

    Fantastic!!! You are a wonderful granddaughter!

    My grandparents came from China like yours, just 10 -15 years or so older. This is so precious — I could not love this post more!!!❤️❤️❤️
    Strong work, Jean!! Truly a labor of love.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  42. Vicky wrote:

    How sweet!

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  43. Janine wrote:

    OH wow, what a beautiful, beautiful story, your grandparents are a true inspiration! This is such a nice gesture and those photos made me tear up 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this precious event!
    xx Janine

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  44. Esther wrote:

    P.S. I love the way you combined old and new traditions in that dress that you had made for your daughter (who looks so much like Nick in that first pic)!

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  45. Esther wrote:

    I love this beautiful wedding you were able to throw for your grandparents. I am a first generation American. I am proud of my heritage and the country that I am descended from, but also so thankful for parents that wanted to give us other opportunities in the United States and the sacrifices that they made for us. I love that you are honoring those sacrifices and your loved ones.

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  46. Louise wrote:

    That’s really beautiful Jean

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  47. Sarah wrote:

    What a wonderful day – so many gorgeous details and their happiness at the centre. A lovely thing to do for your grandparents

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  48. Rena wrote:

    Also this post is very touching and I see your grandparents had really a difficult life. And therefore it is even more beautiful you arranged that wonderful day for them!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    Posted 8.27.19 Reply
  49. Lauren wrote:

    Jean – wow this is beautiful. I have been in tears while reading this whole post. Thank you for sharing this with your readers, as you know many of us love to hear about your grandparents. It was lovely to learn a little more about their background and their love.

    Posted 8.26.19 Reply
  50. Gwen Kennedy wrote:

    Jean – both posts have brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing this extraordinary day, and story. Your grandparents are incredible – as are you! The love that you, and your family, share with them shines through and is so touching. May we all be blessed with a love story 60-years-young!

    Posted 8.26.19 Reply

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