Than & Chi-Ling, Part II

I’m always beyond delighted when we get a wedding graduate post from a groom, and Than’s post is no exception (you can read Chi-Ling’s Part I here). He talks about Occam’s razor. He discusses the fact that sometimes before the wedding your partner becomes “unrecognizably irrational” (um, yes). And through it all, his words glow with clear love for his partner and the day that they created.

DIY Los Angeles Wedding

I imagine most men’s concerns and obligations regarding weddings are fairly minimal. In general, the fairer sex seems to have put much more thought into what their ideal wedding involves, sometimes even before the other partner enters the picture. While the husband-to-be can have nothing but the best of intentions, it seems that sometimes men tend to just get in the way. As for Chi and I, it is perhaps some parts different, but largely the same.

DIY Los Angeles WeddingChi is a beautiful soul. Her wit, charm, and beauty continue to captivate me. I knew almost immediately that I wanted her in the canvas of my life. That said, I was perfectly aware that she did not feel the same way. Chi had a habit of telling me she did not believe in marriage, and she was not convinced that lifelong love was achievable. I bring this up to illustrate that Chi is not the typical woman. She had no grand plan for her wedding day because she had not planned to marry. Shortly after we became engaged, she asked me if it was okay if we could be wed in four months in a field of flowers, just me and her. I resisted bursting out with an enthusiastic “YES,” and instead coolly state, “Yeah, if that’s what you want, that would be fine.”

DIY Los Angeles Wedding

After some discussion, we decided to have friends and family celebrate with us. We stuck to the truncated timeline and decided it would be more practical to host our wedding locally. Looking back, having five months to plan was actually quite a blessing in disguise. A short engagement meant that we could not procrastinate.

Perhaps more advantageously, it allowed us to employ an almost Occam’s razor approach to wedding planning. Anything we could do, we would do. Anything we could not, we scratched off the list. There was no great buffer of time where we could investigate alternatives. The biggest advantage to this short engagement was that the end goal was in plain sight. The stress had an ever-nearing end date.

DIY Los Angeles Wedding After we decided to have the reception at a restaurant three blocks from our home, the other big pieces fell into place. We rented the community room attached to the city’s public library where we happened to end our first date. We asked our friends the Blaines to photograph, our friend Pam to play the piano, and my father to officiate the ceremony. Our struggle laid not in the big picture, but from the small details.

DIY Los Angeles Wedding Chi designed the invitations and later hand assembled them with lots of assistance. In hopes of marrying in a field of flowers, almost two hundred crepe paper flowers were handmade and arranged in planters. Chi had originally planned to handle every detail herself. All who know her agree, Chi can be a perfectionist to the highest degree. Needless to say, she became overwhelmed. She had all hours of every day scheduled weeks in advance. I frequently tried to help, but frequently my help turned into more work for Chi as she had to undo what I did, and do it over again. Her annoyance was quickly and sharply conveyed in these instances. The stress was contagious. We became a feedback loop of frustration. Both of us began resenting the other and the entire wedding planning task.

DIY Los Angeles Wedding
Our saviors turned out to be our friends and family. Chi’s wonderful sister-in-law volunteered to help with the invitations. Together they quickly became a two person invitation making machine. Once I identified the most menial task, the one I was least likely to screw up, I joined the fun. Perhaps because of this success, Chi let her guard down a bit.Shortly thereafter, a close friend insisted on taking over the fields of flowers project. Chi reluctantly relinquished the project. In reality, the construction of hundreds of flowers was enough to keep any person occupied until well past the wedding day. In an effort to finish, an assembly line of Chi’s friends congregated a few nights in the weeks before the wedding to cut and crinkle paper petals, and assemble the pieces into flowers.

DIY Los Angeles Wedding

In the end, these handmade details made our wedding much more scenic. The objects themselves were beautiful, but knowing all of the love and effort that had been painstakingly contributed made everything that much more special. My hope is that by sharing this story, future brides will learn to let go. Doing so will allow for greater enjoyment of the entire process. For any future husbands reading, I wish to convince you that the perception of effort often counts much more than the reality of it all. Know that in the middle of this very stressful time, when your partner-to-be is unbearably irritable and unrecognizably irrational, that this too shall pass.

Chi-Ling Wedding

Most photos by: Blaine Photography / Some photos by: Chi-Ling’s sister in law, Effie

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  • I heart posts from Grooms! Your advice to Let Go is spot-on. Letting go was the hardest thing for me, yet the best thing ever in the end. Nobody noticed any of the details I skipped. It allowed me to enjoy my family & friends more in the days leading up to our wedding. Thank you for sharing & best wishes~

    p.s. I adore the crepe flower aisle!!!!

  • LW

    “Know that in the middle of this very stressful time, when your partner-to-be is unbearably irritable and unrecognizably irrational, that this too shall pass.”

    This is great pre-wedding advice and dare I say, post-partum advice as well. Probably a good mantra to have in many stages of life.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful day and those amazing pictures. Congratulations on your marriage!

  • Agreed, I love posts from the Groom’s perspective! You sound just as patient as my husband was with me when I was “unbearably irritable and unrecognizably irrational.”

    • I really love when there are two-part/two-perspective grad posts. It seems like it’s been happening a lot more lately than it used to!

      Also? Those crepe flowers are really, really beautiful. In the picture in Chi’s post, I actually thought they were real flowers.

      • I thought they were real too!

        • Abby C.

          So did I!

  • SpaceElephant

    I too love seeing the groom’s side of things, especially when they convey the fact that oftentimes feeling helpless is just as frustrating as feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It’s great to be able to see straight through the words to how much he loves and admires his wife.

    I gotta say, though, that “I bring this up to illustrate that Chi is not the typical woman” REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. This community especially is not a place I would expect to see gender-stereotyping, however well-meaning it is.

    • I didn’t even remotely take that statement as a negative. Seemed to me that Than was simply illustrating his point. And maybe I’m being crass, but stereotypes have an element of truth, particularly in this reference.

      • SpaceElephant

        When I first read it I read it as “unlike the typical woman she did not have grand plans for her wedding day”, which is what stuck in my craw. Now that I go back and re-read I may have been a little hasty, though I still think the phrase “typical woman” is a dangerous one.

    • meg

      Y’all, here is the thing. You guys BEG for posts from grooms, and then always get offended by something they write (trust me, I’ve been doing this a long time). Guys are blunt. They say it like they see it. They don’t try to make it PC for y’all. So if you want posts from guys, you need to let them write in their own voice. It’s a blessing that they tell it a little, achem, more bluntly.

      • I think attributing it to bluntness is a bit of a stretch. women writing grad posts can be blunt as well, and we take it good naturedly for the most part (I mean talk about blunt, we read YOU every day right? haha). when you work so hard to build a community of (mostly) women, in a space where we’re constantly challenging stereotypes and pushing back against gender roles and generally getting fired up about feminism, I’d think you would expect that we might rankle at a comment about “the typical woman..”

        I usually like to stay positive on graduate posts, so I just wasn’t going to say anything about it, but, I agree with spaceelephant.

        • meg

          Maybe. But men are blunt in a different way, about different things, which I love. I think it contributes to the richness of the discussion (though readers have a history of not liking it, and not just comment, almost every male grad post has been objected to… David’s included). I mostly think that when we ask men to contribute their points of view, we can’t tell them *how* to write it. Any man married to a long time reader is someone I trust to use their own language.

    • I consider myself atypical. And, I think Than is unconventional too.

      I believe my husband means that more women than not hope to married one day. I didn’t think marriage was for me for quite a few years.

      We believe everyone has the right to have their own opinion, even if it is wildly different from our own.

      • Richelle

        I would also note that a big reason many of us like the APW space Oscar are not typical women, and we revel in that and in expanding the definition of “typical” women. I’m with Than and take no offense at all. Thanks for the great posts today you two and congratulations.

  • Wonderfully written perspective from “the other side”. It’s awesome to hear grooms give their two cents and in this case, it’s particularly poignant and well thought out.

    Also. This:

    “Chi is a beautiful soul. Her wit, charm, and beauty continue to captivate me. I knew almost immediately that I wanted her in the canvas of my life.

    Read more:

    Swoon. We should all be so lucky as to have a partner who can eloquently and beautifully speak of us.

    • I was just going to write that. It made me swoon as well. Beautifully written post, Than. Thank you for sharing. :)

    • I am most fortunate. I know this most days. I wish I could be as thoughtful, patient, and kind of a partner as Than is. I grew up trying to become the person my ideal partner would want. I am far from that ideal, but I still got me an awesome partner is crime.

  • Viking hat. Nothing else matters.

    • FawMo


  • I think this story is interesting to read because it is quite the opposite of mine. How our “details” looked, like the program, the invitations, and the chairs, were more important to Mr. Beagle than to me. He designed the paper products and I executed, but the whole time was nervous I was going to mess up his vision.

    • Awww. I have been on both sides of this, the designer and the executer. I cannot decide which role I prefer.

  • Anna

    I love hearing about short engagements! It gives me hope- it can be done! Thanks for sharing Than. Your photos embody joy. I’m glad you and Chi found the day that fit you best.

    Congratulations~ all the best to you and your baby family!

    • trisha

      I did mine is 6 weeks, and it was perfect. Simple, small and perfect. It can be done.

  • Can someone please tattoo the entire last paragraph on my arm? Like today?

    • You’re getting married in two weeks! How exciting.

      The week before the wedding, I acted as if I were preparing for a big exam. I crammed and crammed, and a day or two before, I let go since doing more would create a net loss.

      In Mandarin, there is a saying “jia you.” It means add oil (as in gasoline). You’re so close. And for the next two weeks, I am offering you my oil reserves. It is going to be ok.

      • Oh my gosh, Chi-Ling–you almost have me in tears. I need your reserves! I’ll even siphon them out. I woke up this morning with The Rage. It’s so bad and I’m having such a hard time shaking it that I even considered writing about it for APW. Seriously, I have to attend a grammar meeting and a professional development meeting next week, and I want to mow people down. Grammar–the week of my wedding? Over summer? I’m in a pit of despair and crafts. Oh dear. “Jia you.”

        It’s going to be my mantra. I’m going to add it to my yoga chant in the morning. How do I pronounce it?

        Really, Chi-Ling, you just might be my personal savior this week. ;)

        • You’re going to be ok.

          If you really want to learn the meaning and the pronunciation, I found a youtube video. The explanation of “jia you” starts ~ 45 seconds. Beware, the guys are corny.

          The first time I went to a kickboxing class (hand wraps, gloves, bags and all) during wedding planning, I felt a physical release of stress. Ice cream, yoga, hugs, these are all helpful too.

        • Ha ha! That made me giggle. You’re as wonderful as your hubby claims! ;)

  • I LOVE this approach to wedding planning. That’s why (despite shaking my fist at myself a few times) having another large project at the same time as planning a wedding worked out well for me: some things you just can’t do. A beautiful perspective- thanks!

  • You had me at Occam’s Razor.

    In fact, that’s my go-to move when Mr. Dear and I are debating something. I just yell, “Occam’s Razor! I win!”

  • I can totally relate to this wedding as I also had a short engagement. And it also went perfectly!!!! I love your wedding too. Thanks for sharing such a great event with us!

  • Class of 1980

    Those paper flowers are bright and beautiful. And Chi-Ling is so shockingly cute I want to shrink her to miniature size and put her on my shelf.

    Too weird? ;)

  • Emmy

    “I knew almost immediately that I wanted her in the canvas of my life.”

    OMG i think that is the single best line that I have ever read on here. Wow.

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