Amy and David met for the first time in middle school. Amy must have made an impression on David, because he looked her up many years later when she was in her 3rd year of college at UVA. They went out for dinner in Charlottesville and had a great time catching up. David asked her out a few months later when they were both home in Burke, VA. Their first date was May 19, 2000. David was so nervous that they got very lost on the way to dinner and ended up in a parking lot, but it was the start to a great relationship. They dated for many years and decided that they were meant to be together. Their proposal happened on the anniversary of their first date. David had conspired with Amy’s boss and gotten her down to UVa (her alma mater) on the pretense of a work related assignment. She was wandering around the Grounds taking photos when David appeared. He eventually pulled her to the courtyard where he presented her with an album recounting their years together and when she got to the end he pulled out a ring.
Since they got engaged at Amy’s college, they decided to have the wedding in Harrisonburg, where David went to school. Amy is Chinese-American and in her family, the expectation is to have a large Chinese banquet with numerous courses. They knew they didn’t want this traditional type of wedding but still wanted to be able to serve authentic Chinese food while also having some American dishes. They decided to go with Beyond, an Asian fusion restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg owned by family friends. It was the first wedding for the small, 2-story restaurant. The choice was an unconventional one given that dinner guests would have to be split between two floors and several of the tables on the first floor would have to be removed to make room for dancing, but it worked out well. Guests who wanted to be away from the dancing and music were able to relax and chat upstairs.
The couple did other things to try to incorporate traditional Chinese wedding details into their wedding. As with many Asian cultures, red is “the” wedding color, so red could be found in every detail. The Chinese “Double Happiness” symbol was featured prominently throughout the wedding: in the invitations, the menus, and on the sign-in poster. The escort cards/favors were small Chinese silk pouches that Amy’s sister had brought back from Asia. Inside the pouches were fortune cookies.
Amy wore a second dress for dancing; a traditional red Chinese qipao or cheongsam. Amy’s sister, who lives in Asia, had a seamstress friend, make the dress. And her sister’s mother-in-law made last minute alterations to the dress. With the leftover fabric, the seamstress also made a matching red dress for Amy’s youngest niece.
Conducting the legal ceremony prior to the wedding at the courthouse, Amy and David decided to opt for a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony. In the Tea Ceremony the couple is introduced to each other’s family. They show respect and appreciation to their parents and married relatives by presenting them with tea. In return, the relatives give the couple gifts in red envelopes. In addition to participating, Amy’s sisters helped to direct the ceremony. Male family and friends of the couple formed the groom’s party, who brought in trays of fruits and sweets as a gift to the bride’s family.
Since almost all of the guests were coming from Northern Virginia, all of the supplies for the wedding had to be driven down to Harrisonburg. The couple enlisted the help of their friends, to bring the cupcakes, the centerpieces, etc. The couples’ family and friends helped with setup of everything at the restaurant for the reception, from the table settings to the cake table. All of the cake stands on the cake table either belonged to Amy or to friends and family who brought theirs along. The floral centerpieces were made by Amy’s friend and cousin. Her cousin also made her bouquet as well as did her makeup.
I have also known Amy since elementary school and was thrilled that she asked me to photograph the wedding. We were very close friends, but lost touch when we went to separate middle schools. In 2007, I met a mutual friend of Amy’s at work and we were once again connected. It was so great to see how happy Amy and David are together.
Amy and David are both dog lovers (Amy is actually a dog trainer) and they wanted to incorporate their border collies into the wedding, so they had a custom cake topper made to replicate their dogs, Mango and Razz. The baker, Sweetz Bakery, made the cake with mango and raspberry filling. Amy is a big fan of cupcakes and her dogs, so they also included two flavors of cupcakes to reflect the dog’s names: Mango Passionfruit and Chocolate Raspberry. The week before the wedding, David found out that he had a gluten allergy. Thankfully Sweetz Bakery is very well versed in gluten free, dairy free cake, so just days before the wedding, the baker agreed to make the cake, as well one flavor of the cupcakes, gluten and dairy free. Phew!
Years ago Amy bought boxes of DIY wedding invitations thinking that they would be of use either to her or her friends some day. No one ever took her up on using them for their weddings and the couple actually decided to go with modern Chinese invitations from Minted.com. But Amy used the paper from the DIY wedding invites for every other printed item for the wedding: save-the-dates, menus, table numbers, escort cards, signs for the cupcake flavors, and the “Love is Sweet” sign, which was hung on the Cake Table – all hand-made!
The poms above the cake table were actually made in the car on the ride down to Harrisonburg, the day of the wedding! Amy also handmade the “I Do” bunting banner placed on top of the cake with the dog topper. The sign-in poster is something that Amy designed based on a template from Martha Stewart and an invitation design she saw online. This is one talented couple! All of the details and time and energy invested into this event made it a very personalized and beautiful ceremony. It was a privilege to photograph it!
Invitations – Minted.com
Restaurant – Beyond Restaurant
Hair – K.C. Felton Bridal Hair
Cake/Cupcakes – Sweetz Bakery
Cake Topper – AnimalCake Toppers
DJ – Leon Pearson of J&H DJ Services
Rings – Protea Diamonds
Wedding Gown – Alfred Angelo
Bride’s Shoes – Ivanka Trump