Ever wondered what we mean when we say “your Jewish wedding your way?” Well, luckily, Quan and Jesse have created the perfect example of what that looks like – a totally unique celebration that perfectly represents them as a couple (and Star Wars!!).
To celebrate bride Quan’s Chinese heritage, and groom Jesse’s Jewish background (and, of course, love of Star Wars), the couple affectionately dubbed their big day their “Chewie wedding”. How cute is that??
Splashed with bright color, just how Quan likes it, the Jew-ish wedding was held at a total dream location, Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Not only did that mean a backdrop of a breathtaking Colorado landscape, but it was also full of personal meaning to the couple, who spent much of their early relationship there.
In fact, every choice the pair made, and every last detail, had sentimental value and personal significance, creating a wedding that was just for them and their loved ones. We’re not crying, we just have something in our eye!!
Oh, and if they weren’t already inspirational enough, both Quan and Jesse have taken a break from their respective high-flying jobs to, in the spirit of their seven blessings, travel the world, in what they have creatively, and brilliantly, named their “shabbatical“.
We all make commitments that we wholly intend to keep, but then find life gets in the way. Jesse and Quan have proved that nothing can keep you from your dreams, and they have absolutely taken their commitment to treating each day like shabbat for a year seriously. In fact, you can even follow their adventures on Instagram!
There’s so much to gush over, but it’s already time to hand over to proud groom, Jesse, for the full account of the day, illustrated with a sensational spread of images by Once Like a Spark.
A venue with personal history
Jesse, the groom: We were married at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. We actually had the venue booked before we were engaged. Jesse was working with a jeweler to design the engagement ring and we both knew we wanted a short engagement and a wedding before the Colorado winter.
We started looking for venues and made a call to Red Rocks. The venue usually books more than a year in advance, so we were really surprised and lucky to find out that someone was late turning in their deposit and a September date was potentially available. Fortune was in our favor and the events manager called us two weeks later to give us the date: Sept 10th.
Red Rocks has a lot of significance for our relationship. Immediately after our first date in February, I went home and bought tickets to summer concerts at Red Rocks. I knew that I would be taking Quan to those concerts. Some of our favorite dates were during the summer concerts we attended at Red Rocks.
We fell in love in the Colorado outdoors – not only at Red Rocks, but also hiking and ski trips in the Rocky Mountains. For us, Red Rocks was the iconic Colorado venue where we wanted to host our family and friends so that they could also take in the beauty of the great outdoors of Colorado.
A “Chewie” theme
We had a theme for our wedding – we called it our “Chewie” wedding. This is a nod to my love of Star Wars, as well as our combining of Chinese and Jewish traditions. This theme was evident throughout the two-day ceremony.
A pre-loved wedding dress
Quan bought her dress at a second-hand shop, it was the first dress she tried on and it just felt right.
The one momento that was very important to Quan was the tie clip on her bouquet. It was her dad’s, who has passed away.
A pop of color
Quan loves a pop of color, and so wore turquoise heels that she had purchased at Charles and Keith during a business trip to Singapore.
Bridesmaids in silk qipaos
Quan’s bridesmaids were ladies from each phase of her life: her sister, college and graduate school, my first job, and Shanghai, where she lived for five years.
As a nod to Quan’s time in Shanghai, and to her Chinese background, the bridesmaids wore silk qipaos, which are traditional Chinese dresses in turquoise blue.
A homemade chuppah
We built our own chuppah. It was made of bamboo and a canopy purchased in Nepal with the Tibetan symbol for eternity.
Honoring Chinese traditions…
On Sept 9th we had a Jewish and Chinese ceremony in the garden of the Nepalese Restaurant.
We played Chinese door games, where the groomsmen had to perform tasks to earn the bride. The bridesmaids planned this and barred the entrance until the groomsmen completed all the tasks, including: the boys drawing a large banner to express Jesse’s love of Quan and getting it signed by five strangers, and eating “something bitter, something spicy, and something sweet” all the flavors of marriage.
We also had a Chinese tea ceremony, where we served tea to all the elders on both sides of the family.
…and Jewish traditions
We had a pre-Shabbat ketubah signing and exchanging of the rings.
Our favorite part of the reception was the hora, which we were able to do on the open patio. We love the outdoors and we loved having or hora outdoors under the blue Colorado sky, with vermillion rocks all around us.
A choreographed fan dance
We coordinated with our bridal party to have a funny entrance. The groomsmen sauntered down the aisle to the Cantina song from Star Wars. The bridesmaids held silk fans instead of bouquets. They choreographed a fan dance as they walked down the aisle. I walked up with my parents to the opening song for Star Wars. Quan walked up with her mom to Fields Of Gold. We often hike in Golden, where the wedding takes place, and call the hiking trails around Golden “fields of gold”.
We had planned a big surprise for our guests. We were able to find a dragon dance troupe and were able to surprise our guests having the dragon dance troupe participate in the bridal party walk into to the reception.
The table decorations were old street signs from Shanghai, and the flowers were lavender, picked from some of our favorite hiking trails around Golden, Colorado.
A Chewie-themed cake
It was important to us to work with small business. Our wedding cake was made by Bringin’ Home the Bakin. Dana, who runs the bakery from her home kitchen, is the wife of a colleague.
She designed two cupcakes for the top that had a girl and a boy Chewbacca as a nod to our Chewie-themed wedding.
A moving moment
We had a DJ, but wanted to surprise the guests for our send off. We invited the singer and mandolin player from the local blue grass band, Old Fuss and Feathers, to sing two of our favorite songs to close the evening: Dixieland Delight and Wagon Wheel.
Before we came out with Old Fuss and Feathers, we asked our bridal party to gather everyone outside, linking arms in one big circle. As we walked out, we got to see under the Colorado blue skies and the vermillion red cliffs all of our most loved and cherished family and friends linking arms in one big circle. It is a moment we will never forget.
Quan brought silk scrolls from China that had meaningful blessings written on them.
Quan started conversion classes before the wedding. Wedding planning led her to researching and learning more about Jewish traditions. She started classes to understand these traditions better. There was never pressure from my family for her to convert.
We also had pre-marriage counseling sessions with our rabbis before the wedding. This exploration process: the classes, wedding planning, and counseling led to her decision to convert seven months after the wedding.
A globetrotting couple
So far we have:
- Traveled across Central Asia (The Stans): Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan,
- Roadtripped across Morocco celebrating our one year wedding anniversary here,
- Traveled across Europe: Italy, Spain, France, and Bulgaria,
- We are currently in Mongolia about to trek into the Gobi Desert and have on deck Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Namibia, Patagonia and much more!
Our wedding set the foundation for the life we wanted to live as a married couple. We were very glad that we opted to spend discreetly for our wedding day, as it allowed us the financial security to then pursue this dream of taking time off to travel with each other.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
We almost eloped because we did not want the stress of a wedding. A good friend told us that it is a rare opportunity where you get to ask everyone to love to travel to one place, so we couldn’t resist. We had a short engagement and planned the wedding in blocks of time getting many things done all at once. For us, travel is very important and we didn’t want wedding planning to interrupt our normal weekends of skiing and hiking. We stayed true to this by being very focused on the things that mattered to us and letting go of the details that didn’t matter.
We also kept our eye on the prize in terms of prioritizing our budget. It is very easy for the budget to creep up, as at each stage of the wedding, there is always an expense or an upgrade option. In our life together we tend to value spending on travel and experiences over things, so that is where we focused on spend on the wedding.
We let go of traditional ideals of “what we needed to do.” We did not have formal invitations – we sent a postcard which directed everyone to the wedding website. We embraced technology, we used AppyCouple to create an app for our guests (very economical by the way) and linked everyone via a private Facebook Group.
In terms of how we incorporated our two cultures, we focused on remaining true to the values and customs of our upbringing and looked for ways we could make them meaningful for the diverse guests we had invited to our wedding.