The love of my life, and all the friends and family

In terms of weather, you could not possibly have asked for a better day.

It was the only thing Lily and I could not control as a variable for our wedding. One and a half years of planning, and this was the only thing that was completely out of our hands. Thankfully, the weather cooperated, and despite the inevitable day-of mishaps (which were easily handled by our wonderful wedding party and the army of vendors we had brought along), it was an absolutely wonderful time.

I’m particularly bad at remembering details, but I’m hoping that my visual memory (and the act of writing it down) don’t fail me in the future. A long, dusty gravel road to the golf course, where one particularly brave groomsman carefully drove his bright orange Lamborghini to the parking lot at Sutton Barn. A impressively unimpressive outer facade facing the parking lot that had all the charm of a country convenience store with a fleet of golf carts whizzing about. A gentle downhill stroll around the back on a concrete walkway to reveal a dazzling white tent filled with white tables and chairs, coral, purple, and ivory flowers on top of the white tablecloths, and a delicate hanging light fixture from the center.

Through the middle of the tent, a walkway towards the small pond, where two rows of long wooden benches sat the front, white chairs arranged nicely in rows behind. A rustic wood log wedding arch at the edge of the water, draped in lilac cloth, fresh flowers clinging to the top and the sides. Behind the wedding arch and to the sides, tall grasses and marshy plants forming a tall wall of green. And behind the arch in the pond, the sprout of water from a fountain gracefully arching up and above.

The back of the barn looked way better than the front. There was no modern-day golf shop stuff visible here; it was all rustic old barn vibes from the back. The wood, weathered from the passage of nearly 200 years of time, was a deep, dark, rich brown color. Between the barn and the tent sitting just yards away were several old barrels topped with patio umbrellas, all awaiting the juicy small talk that would inevitably spill forth once the alcohol started flowing and the appetizers were served.

Exposed to the outside was the cellar of the barn, its usable space reaching beyond the foot print of the barn with the help of a large metal ruddy colored patio roof. At one end, a DJ booth, flanked by two LED party spotlights. Next to the DJ, a greenery wall lit with strands of Christmas lights running parallel from top to bottom.

In the middle of the cellar was the buffet line. Two long tables were arranged in an L shape, a neat row of stainless steel buffet trays kept warm by small gas stoves. A heavenly stew of aromas from one of the best chefs in Metro Detroit.

On the other side of a wall at the other end of the cellar, an open bar. Two barrels on the side of the bar had clear glass dispensers with two different cocktails, one orange (that I remember as mango-something) and one blue (whose name I cannot remember).

To the left of the bar, an Instax instant camera and a guest book where we asked people snap a photo of themselves and leave a comment. Next to that was the gift area where guests could (and did) drop off many cards, notes, and red envelopes. There was also a memory table where we placed pictures of our grandparents, all of whom passed away. I was never particularly close to my grandparents, but I will admit to getting a bit weepy when I saw the memory table before the ceremony.

To the right of the bar, something that would end up being a smash hit with the guests: a s’mores bar. Everything you could possibly want to put on your s’mores, and apparently some other things that I never thought to put on a graham cracker with marshmallow, like Reese’s peanut butter cups and York peppermint patties.

Two sets of stairs next to the bar took you to a suspended patio with chairs where you could look out at the tent, the ceremony, and the pond and greenery surrounding you.

A sliding glass door took you into the main floor of the barn. A full fledged sports bar on the second floor, along with tables and chairs, all chilled by ceiling fans and real deal air conditioning, awaited guests and wedding party members who needed a break from the action outdoors. The venue was nice enough to put the 24 Hours of LeMans on the flat screen TV that hung up in the corner of the bar.

There was a flurry of moments that from that day that stick out in my mind. The first look at the willow trees, where Lily and I had our first vows. The venue organizer warned us that there were still golfers on that side of the golf course and we risked getting hit by a golf ball. I told the photographer and the videographers with us that I was okay with getting beaned in the head by a golf ball in order to have this moment. (“I have a pretty thick skull.”) Lily was so beautiful. We said our private vows, and I couldn’t keep myself together. There are going to be a lot of tears on that video…

The procession was something to behold. Ben, our ring bearer, was so adorable and so confident walking down the aisle with the prop rings. (The stunt rings, I called them.) Justina, the flower girl, wasn’t quite as confident. She walked down the aisle with her mother, her mother trying to coax her into throwing the flower petals. In the end, her mother threw most of the flower petals, but she did manage to get Justina to throw one quick flurry of flower petals before scurrying off to the safety of her seat.

The speech that my groomswoman Angela and officiant gave at the beginning of the ceremony, pomp and circumstance delivered with great flourish. Angela asking that I would take Lily, movie buff and all, as my wife. Angela asking Lily that she take me, too many cars and all, as her husband. After the vows, a massive selfie with everyone there in attendance.

A duet with my new wife to a crowd of all our closest friends and family underneath a big white tent. The song Feels Like Home was the first song we sang in our first karaoke together at Amy and Robert’s vow renewal at the beginning of our relationship, and it was the first song we sang together as husband and wife.

The amazing speeches of the Best Man and Matron of Honor. Lily’s mom making a beautiful speech with advice on how to live a long and happy life together. My dad’s speech, which was very him, for better or worse, with all the trappings of traditional Chinese ideals and the promotion of his family. Angela with her heartfelt but not quite “all the details are there” of our road trip adventures.

The food which was amazing. By far the best food I’ve ever had a wedding, if I may say so myself. I only got one plate before Lily and I were pulled away to do more wedding photographs.

As the sun set, the soft glow of lights from underneath the tent and the fancy schmancy chandelier that hung from the center of the tent. The pastel flower center pieces on each of the tables, surrounded by the friends and family who decided to chill out and chat at the tables or mingle about.

Feet away, the DJ playing music, some of it Japanese music that Lily requested, some classic swing music that I had requested. I remember glancing at the dance floor at the third or fourth song and realizing that my parents and their friends had taken to the floor to waltz, something that I hadn’t seen them do for nearly a decade. And of course, the groovy of my cohort on the dance floor along with some of the particularly precocious kids jamming along to the millennial dance anthems.

At some point, the music stopped and we switched to karaoke. I was the first up to kick off the singing, unfortunately dealing with a mistimed karaoke screen with the music; I’m told that despite everything, my rendition of True Survivor by David Hasselhoff was a more than acceptable performance. Watching Lily sing ABBA solo and with others. Watching the best boy band karaoke performance for the evening. Finishing the night with karaoke with my two brothers.

I thought that we had set up an easygoing wedding that would allow time for Lily and I to talk to people, but that wasn’t true. There were so many friends that came a long way to see us, and we sadly never got a chance to speak more than a few words with them.

I had worried before the wedding that maybe we had too many people in our wedding party. I had a long list of people that I wanted in the grooms party, but I eventually whittled that list down to seven people. As it turns out, the grooms party (and the bridal party) were the people that I saw and hung out with the most in the week leading up to the wedding and at the wedding itself.

We had a wedding rehearsal that had its challenges on Thursday, but it was good to discover those things before the big weekend. Things like how heavy traffic was around the venue and on certain construction-riddled roads, or how we somehow didn’t get Angela a schedule of Thursday and Saturday activities.

But we took care of all those things and gathered at China Palace in Ypsilanti for the rehearsal dinner. The food was your typical American Chinese food, though it was pretty good for American Chinese food. More importantly, there was a stage decorated with a large double happiness character flanked on one side by a dragon, the other side a phoenix.

Everyone in the wedding party along with their families and a select few guests were invited to the rehearsal dinner. After dinner, Lily and I did the Chinese tea ceremony where we would be formally introduced to our new family members on each other’s side, serve them tea, and receive red envelopes. Lily and I were supposed to be wearing our red Chinese wedding outfits, but there was a mixup and we forgot them at home — oops! Instead, we did the tea ceremony in the nice outfits we wore for the wedding rehearsal.

Angela had brought along some good tea for the tea ceremony, and she was the tea ceremony MVP, preparing the tea for us to serve. The tea was really, really good. Always trust the person who has worked in the business for years, haha.

After the tea ceremony, we invited everyone to Lily’s parents’ house for the marital bed ceremony. We brought along the kids so that they could participate. The idea is that the bed where Lily and I would sleep, which was prepared with red bed sheets and pillows, would have treats for the kids to fight over, and the kids would bring good luck and fertility.

Unfortunately, the kids we had were Matt and Mandy’s kids and Alicia and Bill’s kids, who are not Chinese. My parents had put on the bed traditional Asian snacks, like peanuts, dates, and sunflower seeds, things that the American kids had no idea what to do with (or how to eat them). At some point, I told the kids to try and launch peanuts into my mouth, and that got the party started. Then Lily’s aunt brought along some chocolate — the kids knew what to do with that. After spreading crumbs and snack debris throughout the blankets, it was time to retire the kids for bed time and for my and Lily to stay the night in that bed, after I spent a good 15 minutes cleaning everything out of the bed.

Friday, there were no wedding activities planned, so that was the day that I decided to have my bachelor party. I decided to keep things simple with just a hangout in the park.

Angela had a friend in Ypsilanti that had a bunch of yard games, so we set up shop in a park and bought a bunch of food to grill. Angela’s friend Tom had basically every single yard game you could imagine: football bowling, golf bowling, miniature table tennis, ax throwing, jenga, croquet, and some others that I’m forgetting that I never got a chance to sample or we never even got to setting up. John Sapp showed up early to help Angela and Tom set up, while Michael, Tony, and Yanfen went shopping for things for grilling.

I sampled a yard game or two, but eventually moseyed over to the grill and ended up staying next to the food. Grilling there brought back memories of how John Sapp and I would hang out in college where we’d just grill and hang out in the backyard of his campus house. Steve and Kaushik joined us after they got off from work.

It occurred to me after the wedding that this would be the most time that I’d get to spend with friends and family for the weekend. I’m glad that I got to spend that time just hanging out.

The only other time that I got to spend time hanging out was during the groomsmen and bridesmen getting ready at Kaushik’s. Kaushik and Anu were gracious enough to host all of the men plus Angela getting ready for the wedding. I asked Kaushik to order Indian pizza for our getting ready, and he made it happen. (This Indian pizza is basically your traditional American style pizza, but instead of your usual toppings, the options are Indian toppings inspired by Indian dishes.) No surprise, the food was a big hit.

Angela and I had arrived early before everyone else. Angela sequestered herself in the basement to finish her preparations for officiating, while I claimed a bedroom upstairs to practice my part of the surprise duet that I was doing with Lily at the wedding reception.

One by one, the bride and groomsmen arrived. Michael and Tony came in one car. John Sapp showed up. The bridesmen Jamie and Josh showed up together. Last but not least, Darrien and Steve showed up. Steve showed up in style, driving the orange Lamborghini Gallardo and parking it right there in Kaushik’s driveway. Much flashier than my ride for the weekend, which was my silver NC Miata and not the orange Mustang Mach 1 as I had originally hoped to drive.

Hanging out on the patio on the backyard eating Indian pizza was another one of those wonderful moments that simply didn’t last long enough. We barely had an hour of time to hang out before we had to get dressed for the wedding. I had to finish first and rush out to the wedding venue to get just a little bit of makeup done before the first look.

Lily and I basically had no time to ourselves during the wedding or the reception afterwards. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the first look would be the only moment we had to ourselves for the entire day.

I’m finishing this post as I’m flying back to Detroit after our mini-honeymoon. While the wedding was finished, our obligations for friends and family weren’t. We hosted our family for a Sunday brunch before everyone departed for home. Josh and Becky, both members of Lily’s bridal party, were staying with us at our apartment before departing to see family in the US and continuing on to home in the UK.

This weekend it was just us. We headed to the Smoky Mountains for hiking, comfort food, and fun roads. We saw some beautiful waterfalls, ate some delicious food, observed both barebones and extravagant salad bars, and slowly ambled along the curvy mountain roads in a rented Mustang convertible. Our lodging for the weekend was an AirBnB up in the hills outside Pigeon Forge with a gorgeous view.

I don’t feel any different now than I did before the wedding. Yes, there is a ring on my finger now, and the woman I love is now my wife, but my life was lovely before the wedding and is still lovely now.

I hope that it stays this lovely for the rest of my life.

I love you Lily.