Wedding Recap

Wedding Recap

It has been almost three months since Thomas and I got married. Today, I finally had some time to share the photos and stories from our big day.

If you’ve read about our engagement, you probably know that Thomas and I had been waiting to get married for almost a year. We filed my immigration petition in August 2014. After many long procedures and periods of waiting, I finally passed my K-1 visa interview in Guangzhou on July 7th. It took me another three weeks to finally get my passport back with the visa in it.

On July 27th, dragging two big suitcases containing all my belongings, I boarded a plane destined for Dallas. The trip was a tough one. Our plane encountered a hail storm and was damaged so badly it was unflyable (I shared a bit few details in this post). It took me an extra day to get onto another flight. On the 29th, I finally arrived at my new home in Austin.

It is funny that although we had been waiting so long to get together, we didn’t really have time to plan our wedding.

Wedding Recap

I never knew when and whether I would get my K-1 visa and move to the US, so we held everything up until I got the final confirmation on July 7th.

On the other hand, we had to schedule the wedding as soon as I arrived in the US, because first, the K-1 visa required me to get married within three months of arrival. Second, I needed to be married as soon as possible, so I could start my applications for a green card, a social security number, and permits to work and travel.

In the end, we decided to schedule our ceremony for the ninth of August, just one week after my arrival.

Our whole situation left me a month to plan the wedding.

At first, I thought we would just get married. No fancy dress, hair, makeup, or anything, because we weren’t going to have time to invite any family members or friends to attend (I thought about flying my parents to Austin at the last minute, but neither of them had a US visa at that point). Plus, we didn’t really have time or budget to plan anything fancy.

After thinking more and more, I thought we should at least document the whole process, to record these important moments. It’s one of the biggest days of our life, after all.

So I started to hunt down a photographer to take photos of our ceremony, with all of three weeks’ notice. In my research, the extremely high cost figures that came up totally freaked me out. Man, getting married is expensive!

Thanks to my friend Dennis, I realized I could find a photographer within a reasonable budget on Craigslist. Which I did. And I’m so glad I did!

It’s almost a miracle that I managed to find two great artists from Wild Souls Studio who could fly to Austin from Boston on such short notice! Not only were they really cool and super nice, they also did such a great job during our ceremony and created these photos, which we love.   

Wedding Recap

Meet our photographers – Christine and Van.

After hiring our wedding photographers, I started working on the schedule for the day. Since it’s would be a tiny ceremony that only lasted 15 minutes, I wanted to plan a few things and do a bit more photo shooting. I prepared some more dresses that I could change into, and started to brainstorm shooting locations. Since we were getting married in Texas, I thought it’d be very cool to change into cowboy style clothing. Thomas helped me contact local farms who provide the service. Luckily, we happened upon SunCrest Farm. Not only did they let us take photos with their horses, they even delivered the horses to our chosen location.

Wedding Recap

Stephanie picked two beautiful horses for us!

Wedding Recap

After getting the horses squared away, I started to worry about my hair and makeup. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes I dwell on details a bit too much. I wanted to look amazing and get everything done on a budget and in a style that fit both traditional Chinese and country-Western outfits. Crazy right?

Oh wait a minute, did I mention that I got my Chinese dress tailored in China and that I’d start our wedding day in traditional Chinese clothing?

When I was trying to book a hair and makeup stylist, I came across a new thing, and it was a total culture shock – I needed to pay a wedding day premium. OK, I understand the price of everything related a to wedding is automatically higher than it would otherwise be, but I didn’t know that in the US, wedding day costs are much higher than reception day costs (it is the opposite in China).

In China, we don’t have the same ceremony typically done in the US. If a couple needs to get married, the they will go to the local registration office and get the information filled out. It usually happens way before the reception, sometimes as much as a year or two ahead. You see, we call the day people get married “the registration day”. And we call the reception day “the wedding day” – when you invite family, friends, and colleagues to have a big party.

Before I learned all these things about a US wedding, I always thought a wedding would involve many, many people. Otherwise you shouldn’t call it a wedding. I thought it was ridiculous to pay the wedding premium for our ceremony, because, for God’s sake, there would only be two of us.

I was so wrong.

I found out that I not only needed to pay the wedding premium, I’d also be lucky to find a stylist who’s available. I had no idea that most hair salons aren’t open on Sunday! Three days before our wedding, I found my hair stylist, Tammie. She is a famous hair stylist with 25 years experience on bridal up-dos. She always has her year booked up, so I considered myself very lucky!

Wedding Recap

I was so glad to find my hair stylist Tammy.

For the makeup, my friend Meggan from Culinary Hill provided the best idea ever – I could book a makeup session at Sephora. I just needed to spend $50 on makeup after the session, and I’d get the makeup done for free. What a great deal!

Two days before our wedding, we went to Cavender’s Boot City to get our Western outfits. Next time you’re visiting Texas (there are branches all over), definitely check it out! There are so many nice boots, and at a reasonable price. We managed to get everything really easily.

Wedding Recap

A day before the wedding, I finally got my nails done in the afternoon. The only thing left was the wedding bouquet.

The truth is, the whole flower thing never occurred to me. I thought it’d be easy. Just go to a florist and buy a bouquet, right? Wrong!

Turns out, most florists require several days, up to a week, to book a bridal bouquet. We were running out of time already, so I decided to grab a simple bouquet at a local supermarket. I was wrong again. After taking down my request, I accidentally let slip that the bouquet was for our ceremony. The price of the flowers went from $60 to $160 in 3.0 seconds.

I was frustrated and annoyed. I felt like I was being taken advantage of instead of being blessed.

I didn’t order a bouquet in the end. I grabbed $40 worth of flowers from Central Market and ribbons at Joann Fabric. Yes, I would just make the bouquet myself.

Wedding Recap

On our wedding day, instead of getting myself ready, I was busy making my bouquet and the boutonniere (which is a new word I just learned a day ago). Which, by the way, led to a fatal mistake later – I forgot to pack my jeans for the horseback riding (!!!).

Thinking back, it’s kind of funny that after spending all the money for my dress, for the horses, for the photographers and stylist, that I didn’t want to pay an extra $100 for the flowers. On the positive side, we got so many flowers that our apartment looked super nice for the entire month following the wedding.

Wedding Recap

Our wedding day officially started in the afternoon. Our photographers, Christine and Van, arrived at our place to take pictures of us getting ready. I was trying to squeeze in a few shots outdoors before the ceremony, but none of us felt like going outside when the car thermometer read 102 F.

Wedding Recap

Wedding Recap

Wedding Recap

After hanging out and finishing a bottle of sparkling wine, we headed to Judge John’s place for our ceremony. It was taken on his back deck, which overlooks Buzzard Canyon. The ceremony itself was very short and sweet.

Wedding RecapWedding Recap

Wedding Recap

Afterwards, we drove to St. Edward’s park to pick up the horses. That’s when I realized I didn’t pack my jeans!!!! And I didn’t bring any other pants. I was SO lucky, that a friend of the horses’ owner, Stephanie, happened to have an extra pair of jeans and lent them to me. Yay, I wouldn’t have to ride a horse in my skirt!

Wedding Recap

Wedding Recap

The horseback riding session was a lot of fun, and we managed to get a lot of photos taken. Although it was so hot outside and I constantly felt dehydrated, it was one of the best times of my life. Christine and Van took a lot of amazing photos during a short time, even as everything fell out of schedule. They were not on horseback and tried very hard to keep up with us on foot. They even ventured into the water to take these pictures that we love the most.  

Wedding Recap

Wedding Recap

Wedding Recap

The time passed so quickly. After the horseback riding session, it was already really dark. There went the blue dress photos I was planning to take after the ride.

Lesson learned, again, do not schedule too many things that are impossible to achieve. It put me under huge pressure the whole time, and the things on my crazy schedule simply could not be finished at the end of the day.

Wedding Recap

After a long, exhausting day and at the time most restaurants were already closed, Thomas and I stopped by Chilantro (Korean fusion) to have our first dinner as a married couple. We were exhausted but very happy. In the end, we both agreed it was a good call to plan some special things for our wedding.

After all, it was the biggest day of our life.

Wedding Recap

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Meet Maggie

Born and raised in Beijing, Maggie now calls Texas home. She’s learned to love barbecue, but her heart belongs to the food she grew up with. For her, Omnivore’s Cookbook is all about introducing cooks to real-deal Chinese dishes, which can be as easy as a 30-minute stir-fry or as adventurous as making your own dim sum. Recipes, step-by-step photos and video are the tools she uses to share her knowledge—and her enthusiasm for Chinese food.

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36 thoughts on “Wedding Recap

  1. Meggan | Culinary Hill

    This post has me sniffling like a baby over here!!! TEARS! Thanks for sharing your story. You really didn’t need to mention me, but it’s sweet that you did. Weddings can be so stressful, and that is so rude about the flowers jumping in price just because you say the word “ceremony.” You are so amazing, making your own flowers on your wedding day! Your dress from China is absolutely gorgeous, too. The traditional Chinese dress paired with horse-back riding really puts your two cultures together, ha ha! I really look forward to the day that we meet, Maggie, so I can give you a big hug! Much love (and tears) for you and Thomas!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for all the kind words Meggan! I’m so glad we chatted before the wedding. You tips and advise were indeed super helpful! It was quite stressful during that time but you made my days easier 🙂 Me too, I’m looking forward to meeting you. So many things to chat!
      Have a super week!

      Reply
  2. Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners

    I’m glad to hear that Meggan is crying because I’m bawling like a baby! lol. You look so beautiful, Maggie and Thomas so handsome.
    After your long wait to get here and your bumpy and delayed plane ride, I love it that you made your wedding day so unique and special.
    You deserve only the best, my friend, and I cannot wait to watch you light the world on fire!
    Lots of love and best wishes to you both. oxox

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for the kind words Robyn! It was a long wait but totally worth it. The wedding day was quite stressful, but thinking back, I’m so glad I did it.
      Are you still coming to the US this year? Really looking forward to hanging out with you guys 🙂

      Reply
  3. [email protected]

    What a lovely post and photos, you looked so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  4. Tom Ledbetter

    Maggie, your description of your planning and the wedding made me feel as of I were there with you and Thomas in Austin! After all that you two sound like you are really happy. That is what it’s all about! Three months! It can’t be that long ago. Anyway, Ove been cooking your recipes and thinking of you both. Great pictures by the way. I really liked the B & W on horseback! Best wishes, Tom

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for taking the time and leaving all the kind words Tom! It has been three months, but when I start writing, the words started to flow without stopping. Me too, I like these horseback pictures. I’d recommend my photographers to all my friends who’s going to get married.
      I’m glad to hear you tried some of my recipes! I hope you enjoyed the dishes. Have a great week ahead 🙂

      Reply
  5. Kevin | Keviniscooking

    How cool and I love how it all came together for the two of you! Fantastic photos Maggie, so happy and welcome again to the USA!
    Looking forward to meeting you tonight here in my wonderful, sunny San Diego. Thanks for reaching out and so glad to share a fun dinner tonight.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks Kevin! It was great meeting you guys last night! Both Thomas and I enjoy the food and the evening a lot. Isn’t it the best way to start a trip in a a new place? Thanks again for taking time to meeting us. Catch up with you on the blog soon 🙂

      Reply
  6. Immaculate Adamu

    Wow! With the time constraints you still made it happen. It’s been over a decade since I moved to the United States… I can still remember hauling my suitcase. How time flies. Hope you are settling in nicely. Best Wishes!!!
    P.S you looked RADIANT!!!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks so much Imma! It has been great and busy since I moved here. Time does fly so fast!
      Hopefully we can meet someday! SO many things to chat about 🙂
      Have a super week!

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks so much Elaine! Me too, I’m so glad we can start a whole new adventure now, after many years of waiting.
      Hope you have a great week 🙂

      Reply
  7. Cher | cherthatdish

    Maggie these photos are beautiful! You two look perfect for each other, so genuinely happy! It always touches me inside when I see two people so in love and fit for each other. Well worth the wait!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for leaving a comment Cher!
      By the way, just looked at your blog and the dishes are so delicious! Will follow of course. Have a great day 🙂

      Reply
      1. Cher | cherthatdish

        Awwww that is very sweet of you 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog! I hope we can be inspiration to each other. Although I live in Taiwan, I don’t actually cook that many Asian dishes, ironically. Yours are always a good reminder for me to go back to my roots!

        Reply
        1. Maggie Post author

          I totally understand this. Actually when I was living in Beijing, I cooked a lot of non-Asian dishes when I had time. I think western food and dessert are a big thing in Taiwan. And I believe your recipes are very popular! Your blog is definitely a great source of inspiration 🙂

          Reply
  8. Bam's Kitchen

    Wishing you and Thomas many more years of marital bliss. You are so organized so planning a wedding in less than a month in a foreign country was like no big deal for you. You are amazing Maggie and I just love your photos..good memories and many more new memories are on their way.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for all the kind words Bobbi! I have come to the US so many times so I considered myself a local 😉
      We love these photos too! Our photographers are so talented and I LOVE their work. Indeed it’s the best way to keep good memories.
      Hope you have a great weekend and a safe trip to the US my friend!

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks Dixya! I didn’t know you’re living so close! I’ve never been to FT before, but I have friends there. Let’s definitely grab coffee if we travel there!

      Reply
  9. Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    Awww, Maggie, I am BOWLED OVER by what a beautiful day you had. You were so unbelievably resourceful with what you had and I particularly LOVE the horse riding photos. So so special.
    You’ve proved that a wedding doesn’t have to mean thousands of dollars … it just needs a few special things to make it, well, special!
    I was really looking forward to reading this post and certainly wasn’t disappointed.
    I hope all your green card applications etc. are still going according to plan 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m glad you like the post Helen! Thomas and I really love the horse riding session too! We didn’t have any guest, so it didn’t make any sense to spend tons of money on this. But I tried my best to make it special. So happy it worked 🙂

      Reply
  10. kagrrakid

    Congratulations on your wedding and your move to the US!! I came looking to browse recipes but am so glad I stayed for the wedding pics 🙂 What a COOL idea to go horseback riding too!!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for all the kind words! The horseback riding was so much fun and I’m so glad we planned the session 🙂
      Hope you have a great weekend!

      Reply