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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My dad then guided them in exchanging traditional rings and vows (to which they both shouted resounding “I do”s!).
The happy couple!
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
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!
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.
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!
Chinese candies as a nod to their original wedding day 60 years ago.
A sign of a successful evening – Grampy proudly capturing “content” to showcase on his social media ; )