BLOG: A Hawaiian wedding—recreated in Washington

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

Guests mingle and enjoy the festivities. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

My niece Jennifer got married last Saturday. What was amazing was that the newlyweds were able to transform their 5-acre rustic home into an impressive wedding venue. It was a romantic spot for the ceremony. Facing the river, the venue included an elegant cocktail reception area and a garden surrounded by woods for a sit-down dinner.  There was even a hardwood dance floor for guests to have fun later.

It was wonderful. The wedding resembled one I attended earlier this year, in a Hawaiian hotel, facing the ocean. The obvious difference between her home and the Hawaiian site was the price tag.

A typical commercial venue is equipped to host weddings and assist with all the details of the wedding-day process. A private home is not. I was surprised by all the smart ideas, the effort, and the hard work she and her husband put in to turn that big, bare, and weed-filled lawn into a dream wedding site. They did everything themselves from scratch.

When I first heard about the idea of using her home as the location for the wedding, I thought she was crazy. But her rationale was, “Every financial improvement we put in our home would be an investment.”

Take for example, the Hawaiian hotel had lights along the pathway in its garden. But they had none. And the hotel had stairs to showcase the father walking down the aisle with the bride.

They had slopes to deal with, which would be hard for the bride to manage with heels.

A stairway was what they needed, and they built one. Lights would enhance the dinner atmosphere in the garden, so they lit the garden with small and large light bulbs on top and the ground. They even rented heat stands in case it got cold at night.

I praised the minister and told him he did a nice job at the ceremony.

“I am not a minister,” he said. “I am a good friend of the groom.” The couple knows how to use resources wisely.

Jennifer and Ben sharing their vows. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

On the lawn facing the river, a mini-stage was installed next to the gazebo for the bride and groom’s court. Chairs were set for guests, with a river view. The sun was beaming down, just like the wedding I remember in Hawaii.A tent with a chandelier was already in place for the cocktail reception after the ceremony. Cold drinks and appetizers were there for guests to help themselves.

Kelly Detzel serves (and saws) pork. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Dinner was buffet-style, filled with catered Chinese food. I offered Jennifer a roast pig for the feast. Yes, we bought it from Chinatown and transported it all the way to Arlington. It’s the first time I followed Chinese tradition in buying a pig for a wedding. My reward was immense. Many guests told me how delicious the roast pork was. One Chinese guest even said, “The best part of the dinner was the roast pig.” And one of the younger guests cleaned his whole plate of roast pork in minutes, and wanted more.A minor difficulty was that the pig was not cut when we picked it up. My cousin had to go to a neighbor and even had to borrow a saw for the server to cut the pig!

A rustic yard transformed. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The whole wedding was a great success. Family members chipped in with labor and brains months before the big event. No doubt, it brought both sides of the family closer. Out-of-town friends arrived a few days early to help decorate the place. As the saying goes, “It takes a village”…to organize a wedding!

Their garden now has a facelift. Jennifer and Ben pulled off a grand experiment with creativity and savvy.

But the best outcome is they have discovered their strength and bond through their collaboration and communication with each other. No task is too big. Love conquers even issues of stairways.

Table setting. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

I just read in the New York Times that a barn wedding is now very popular. Some rent as much as $4,800 for a wedding. If my niece is entrepreneurial, she can be a wedding planner—she could lease out her garden (and as long as she gets her neighbors approval)! (end)

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