The first time I met Joe, he had flown in to interview at the start up that I was working at. We sat across from each other at happy hour, and I remember thinking he was cute. Little did I know at the time that he was thinking the same thing about me. Luckily, he got the job, but our paths didn’t cross often because he was in the engineering department while I was in the sales org. It wasn’t until a year later on a work trip that we finally ended up hanging out and getting to know each other. We went on a few dates before I got cold feet; Joe was too young, lived too far away, and I didn’t want to get involved with a co-worker.
Two years later, Joe and I once again found ourselves at a happy hour. We ended up talking for hours, and I went home realizing that the concerns I had before were petty, and that we should give this thing a shot. I decided to sleep on it, and when I woke up the next day, I had a text from Joe, asking me to get a drink. After all those years, Joe had never given up on me and waited for me to grow up, even though he was the younger one. We had our second first date at a whiskey bar, and the rest is history.
Joe and I had been talking about getting married for a while, but I was skeptical he was ever going to propose. Perfect opportunities came and went; a day at the tide pools, a cruise in the picturesque Ha Long Bay, but nothing. For the holidays, I decided I wanted to get some photos taken in ugly sweaters, standing in front of the largest Christmas tree I could find, the one in front of the Chase Center near our home in San Francisco. We walked down there with our pup Copper, who was dressed as Santa Paws, and Joe had his tripod and camera set up on timer. Once we finished the photos, he said “wait, one more” and got down on one knee! He definitely caught me by surprise, ugly sweaters and all, and best of all, he got it all on camera.
Like many couples, Shaochen and Joe were faced with the options of postponing, canceling, or downsizing their wedding when faced with the reality of the pandemic, they bounced between one to the next. The couple had just moved to Colorado, and most of their guests would be traveling from California. Shaochen and Joe were looking forward to showing friends and family their new home by way of the wedding, a weekend mountain retreat at the beautiful SkyView in Estes Park, but this also meant that they were trying to have a destination wedding at a time when no one wanted to get on a plane. So, they made the difficult decision to downsize from 125 guests to 25, leaving just their bridal party and immediate family. Keeping their original venue and vendors, Shaochen and Joe decided to throw an epic party for their intimate gathering, though not recklessly. They asked everyone to take a pact and get COVID tested before the wedding day, and held most of the wedding outdoors with options to be seated separately. Instead of a rehearsal dinner, a happy hour took place where every single guest attended. The event was hosted in a private room with each person having tested negative, and was the first sense of normalcy and freedom anyone had felt in several month. “It was pure elation”, Shaochen recalls.
The wedding itself went off without a hitch, with some minor adaptations like having the ceremony broadcasted on Zoom for the original guest list to be apart of. The day was made even more special for Shaochen, a wedding calligrapher, as she was able to bring her vision to life with a jug seating chart, signs and table numbers, plus blood orange place cards! “It was everything my fall wedding dreams were made of!”
Q: Rate, in order, your priorities during the planning process:
A: Venue, Location, Wedding Planner, Photographer, Florals, Signage, Dress, Catering, Decor.
Q: What turned out to be the most beneficial decision you made during wedding planning?
A: Booking our venue first really helped to set the tone for all the other decisions and logistics for the wedding.
Q: What was the hardest decision you made during planning?
A: Definitely the guest list, after we decided to go the micro-wedding route. There’s really no easy way to go about changing your guest list after everyone has been invited, but we’re so glad we invested in a vendor to help us stream the ceremony so that everyone could take part in the day.
Q: Did you have a wedding website?
A: We bought our own domain and built our website using Squarespace because we’re both pretty tech savvy and wanted to have control over our site aesthetics.
Q: Did you have a first look?
A: We did a first look and are happy that we did! It was really special to have a private moment to just ourselves amidst all the activity and adrenaline of the wedding day.
Q: Did you include your dog in your wedding?
A: Yes! It was important to us that our dog Copper could be at the wedding, and we were so happy that SkyView was dog friendly. I trained him to carry a basket down the aisle with flower petals so he could be our flower pup, and we had a family member let him go when it was his turn to run down the aisle. We had family members watch him during the ceremony and cocktail hour and he got to be in all the photos!
Q: Now that you’ve had your wedding, would you change any of your priorities?
A: In general I think we approached the order of planning well, but I underestimated how long finding a dress and alterations would take! It was also challenging because during COVID all of my dress appointments were canceled, luckily I found a dress online at BHLDN that I bought several sizes too large and had an awesome seamstress, Miss Sew It All who made it fit perfectly.
Q: If you could go back and change anything about your wedding day, what would it be?
A: I would have evaluated some vendors differently, and looked at not just their work and packages, but also things like communication styles and how we clicked. A week and a half before our wedding, we had to make the difficult decision to replace one of our vendors, and while this was incredibly stressful at the moment, it was ultimately the right decision. It was better to face that stress before the wedding then have it bring anxiety to the wedding. Remember, this is one of the biggest days of your life, hiring the right team makes all the difference!
Q: What did you think was going to be really important and in the end didn’t matter much?
A: We stressed out about our first dance, because I’ve been to some friends’ weddings with incredible choreographed dances. After watching a bunch of YouTube videos, we decided that neither of us wanted to do a first dance, and cut it completely. Why do anything you don’t want to do at your wedding? No one cared that we didn’t do it!
Q: What three takeaways would you share with future couples?