my favorite wedding pictures


with Mom and Dad{with Mom & Dad}

Before sitting down to write this post, I had every intention of sharing a big overwhelming look at our countless favorite wedding pictures and moments. And then, it occurred to me that instead of dumping you with hundreds of images (although I’m sure I’ll get to that eventually), I’d start by sharing my four favorite pictures from the big day (see above and below). Notice a theme? Sorry, Brian.

Mom and Dad entrance{My favorite picture ever}

When I think back on our wedding, I can easily name more than 50 things that didn’t go as planned or that I would have done differently. In the days since, most of that discontent has managed to silence itself, but the one big thing that I wish I’d done a much better job of is expressing just how grateful I am for my parents. It’s not everyday that you get all of your favorite people in one room, much less have their attention. So, if I could do it all over again, I would stand before that microphone with my hankie at the ready, and tell my little world how much I really love and respect Ruilin Yang and Meng Su, aka Da and Ma.

Sadly, I can’t turn back time, so writing it here will have to do for now. And since I get to make the rules around here, l plan to get carried away.

I’m told parents are often the leading source of stress in wedding planning, especially the bride’s. That was never the case with us.

You need to have the wedding in Cleveland for Brian’s grandmother? No problem. Jewish ceremony? Of course. How much do you need? You got it. As long as you’re happy, we’re happy.

That was the extent of the questions asked and that last sentence I heard a lot. I think it’ll take being a parent myself to fully understand the true meaning of those words, but I’d like to think I have a decent idea. I owe it to them to know how good I have it. 

Walking down the aisle{a walk to remember (love that movie)}

Just days before the wedding, my dad, who had already been beyond generous, told me he would happily contribute for any unforeseen expenses beyond what he was already covering. This from a man who at no point in his life ever had any monetary help from his own parents, not because they believed such a thing builds character, but because they had absolutely none to give. 

There is no hiding that our wedding was not cheap. In fact, it was about as uncheap as you can possibly get. It was by all accounts a beautiful wedding, the kind that more than likely invites comments about how well the bride’s parents must have it. And it’s true, my parents have done well for themselves in recent years, but to know the full story is what makes it that much more remarkable. 

My parents are the definition of self-made. I won’t bore you with their life stories, but in a nutshell, my dad was born to illiterate subsistence farmers in rural China with no electricity, no running water and no real prospects. But what he lacked in modern-day luxuries, he more than made up for in love from his family and an insatiable desire to learn. His passion and countless hours spent reading by candlelight (hello, near blindness) would later be his ticket out of there, and in turn, my own. 

My mom’s story, although different in the circumstances of her upbringing, shares that same plot line of working extremely hard and understanding that in a communist totalitarian state, where no one had any real claim on anything in the material world, her most valuable asset would always be her knowledge. She graduated at the top of her med school class, the best in the country, only to give up her career when she and my dad made the difficult decision to leave behind everything they knew to pursue an unknown life with the hope that it would someday be a better life for their unborn children. 

Supporting a family of four on a student’s salary wasn’t easy, but my parents made it work. Only now do I see how hard it must have been for them to make ends meet in those early years. My mom picking up shifts at a Chinese restaurant comes to mind. But never did my brother and I ever want for anything. We were so very happy and loved. Their financial circumstances are different today, but the giving-us-all-they-could part of it all is still the same, which brings me back to the wedding. I can’t thank them enough for making our big day possible, for being so gracious and generous with their time and money, for being a source of calm and fun at all of the right times, and for stealing everyone’s hearts. I was a pretty proud daughter that weekend.

Mom and Dad hora{My parents rocking the Hora}

For instance, take this last picture. Having never been to a wedding in the western world, much less a Jewish one, and with me completely forgetting to give them any warning about this part of the reception, my parents were entirely unfazed. They went up in those chairs fearlessly, no questions asked, my mom with her hands up the entire time (the rest of us held on for dear life). This picture captures them at their essence: elegant, brave, loving and good-humored every step of the way.

Whenever the topic of parents comes up, I like to tell people that being born to my parents will always be the best thing to ever happen to me. While my parents are self-made, I am fully aware that I owe everything that I am to their selflessness, support, hard work and a surprising trait of open-mindedness. It’s no secret that Brian and I had some big obstacles that we had to work through before considering marriage. I’m therefore beyond grateful that the only question my parents ever asked me was “Does he make you happy?” Never did I think that in the parents equation, that mine, the Chinese immigrants, would initially be the cool ones. What a pleasant surprise that was. 

One more story for you – one of the best compliments I’ve ever received I heard from Brian’s great-uncle Allan when we had dinner with him, his wife Elaine, and two of their grandchildren in Paris when our two trips overlapped. Allan told me that prior to meeting my parents, he had no trouble picking them out of the small crowd of Chinese people present. “They have the same warm, bright, big smile that you do,” he said. I’ll treasure that comment forever. 

Ok, I think that’s about enough babbling from me.

Mom, Dad, I love you both so much. Thank you for everything, and a special shout-out to your cooking of well-balanced family dinners every night. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but see now how special that was and hope to do the same someday. You’re the best. No doubt about it.

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6 Responses to my favorite wedding pictures

  1. Janiece says:

    This is so sweet! You’re incredibly lucky to have such great parents! Congrats on the wedding. Everything (especially you) looked gorgeous!!!

  2. Beth Grossman says:

    I never tire of reading your comments, Yang and seeing more pictures of
    your beautiful wedding…it was a thrill to be with you and Brian.

  3. grandma Ruth says:

    You might not needed a handkerchief to write this but I needed a few tissues .
    to read this through…..
    With much love and admiration
    A suggestion:for both of you – make sure y ou keep you sense of humor through the years.

  4. This is beautiful! You are so thoughtful and an amazing writer. Hope to see you soon–sending you and Brian lots of love! xoxo

  5. Teesa says:

    best post to date.

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