Photo: Emily Helen
By Tina Su
On Feb 12th at 4pm, under the warm glow of the afternoon sun and feeling the refreshing sea breeze, I got married to Jeremy on the beautiful Moloa’a beach in a small and intimate ceremony administered by my dad, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. (photos here)
It is true what they say. Love comes when you’re least expecting it…. At least, that’s what happened to me.
Here is the tale of my love story and what I’ve learned – from finding love, to planning the big day.
Section 1: The Courtship
My Romance Journey
I have been a serial dater (that’s right!) for most of my early and mid twenties. In a quest to find self acceptance and approval through others, I had gotten into relationships for many of the wrong reasons: fear of being alone, financial and emotional security, reputation, feeling successful by association, casual sex that turned into committed relationships with the wrong people, etc.
In the game of finding love, I did well on the surface, but I resented the power it had over me. I would bounce back and forth between hating the dating game and vowing that I shall stay single, and staying up until 2am compulsively browsing dating profiles in an act of desperation.
I felt truly lost.
You may have read from my last article on finding love that my freedom day came in 2006 when I experienced a miraculous level of clarity in understanding why my relationships were causing me so much pain. From that day forward, I stopped looking externally, and worked on understanding and loving myself.
For a year, I was not involved in any relationships, and had spent most of my free time learning and practicing the art of self love. I took myself on dates, I read books that nurtured my soul, I meditated, I studied relationships, and I took up drawing and writing.
The transformation and growth I experienced happened silently and powerfully. Months had passed before realizing that I had connected with a deeper part of myself, and that I was happier than ever before. I no longer felt lonely. I no longer felt the need to find love.
During this period, I learned that I didn’t need another person in order to feel loved, beautiful and complete. And I learned that loneliness is how we have chosen to feel when we forget that we are already connected with love, and that we are already whole.
It was after making this realization that love started knocking on my door.
Serendipity Happens: How We Met
Jeremy and I were work acquaintances. We met two years ago, during a tour of the photo studio, while I interviewed with his team for an engineering position. Little did I know at the time; that interaction had planted the seed in Jeremy that would bloom two years later.
Last summer, during the last weeks leading up to my departure from my job at Amazon, I started listing household items as for-sale on an internal mailing list. On a curious midweek afternoon, I received an email from Jeremy, asking whether I was moving, and ending the email with “Oh, and I’ll take the milk frother.”
According to Jeremy, when he found out that I was leaving the company and moving out of town, he felt a strong pull inside him that compelled him to contact me before I left.
Buying the milk frother from me was just an excuse to meet in person. To make a long story short, over the span of several days, the milk frother exchange turned into several intense conversations where we realized our connection, and Jeremy confessed his love. I felt deeply conflicted between feeling happy and experiencing guilt for being happy.
At the time, I was on the ending trail of a previous relationship, and I had to confront the conflict between following the pull of my heart and soul and doing what might appear to be socially questionable. It was a rough and emotionally exhausting period in which we sorted out complications and brought closure to our previous relationships.
Initially, we were afraid to be misunderstood and judged by other people, especially our friends and family. But over time, we realized that life is precious, and we should be living a life that’s true to ourselves, instead of living for the sake of pleasing other people while denying our own needs. In the end, the friendships that really mattered to us chose to stand by our side, fully and unquestionably supporting us.
I chose to follow my heart, and looking back, it was the right decision.
How do I know I made the right decision? It just felt right!
The milk frother now sits happily on our kitchen counter – unused as usual – and quietly reminding us the miracles that comes with every moment.
Summary: Lessons on Finding Love
Here’s what I’ve learned so far about the process of finding love:
- When you love yourself, you will appear more beautiful to the outside world.
- You cannot find love, it finds you when you are ready. Instead of waiting for it to “happen“, spend time focusing on improving yourself and loving yourself.
- We are all actors in the universal play of life. We cannot predict the future with certainty, and when something is meant to happen, it happens regardless of how we expect things to play out.
- Love happens when we are least expecting it. Impatiently waiting for it to happen will only lead to disappointment. Trust that it will happen when the time is right, and continue to seek and experience the joy happening in your life right now.
- Once you are in a relationship, go travel together. Travelling is a great way to filter out ill-fitted romantic partnerships. Traveling can be stressful, and seeing how well you gel together in stressful situations can be very insightful. It’s okay to have grumpy moments when you’re stressed out, point is, these moments give you an opportunity to see if you can handle your partner when they are moody and displaying their worst behavior.
- Be brave. When a relationship is no longer working out, speak with your heart. Honesty and courage have the power to help you through any adverse scenario. Always voice out what it is that you want. Don’t settle, because you’re worth more than that. In the long run, being honest will secure the best situation for everyone involved.
Section 2: The Wedding
Since I was a little girl – I’ve had a vision of what my fairy tale wedding would be like. A fancy reception held at a large hall, where friends and family gathered to see me being swept off my feet by a prince charming on a white horse.
As I became an adult, and with the more weddings I attended, the more I realized that often times couples are so preoccupied and distracted with wedding details that they forget to focus on each other when the big day came. Not to mention, such weddings are expensive, thus adding to the stress.
I have been engaged once before, and had mentally prepared for a large wedding then. But once I had envisioned it, I no longer felt the need to make it a reality. I realized that the root of wanting a large wedding was to show off, and showing off isn’t worth the amount of money one could use instead to buy a new car. I much preferred saving that money for a rainy day, than blowing it on a big party that lasts only one night. Besides, the point of a wedding is to celebrate love and the union of two souls, not to impress friends and family.
For this reason, Jeremy and I wanted to elope. But eloping wasn’t the answer that would satisfy the cravings of a loving mother, wanting to watch her little girl get married. So, we decided against eloping but to keep the wedding private to family members.
Because we had kept it small, the details were manageable without a wedding planner, and were pulled together within a few weeks, with the most difficult part being coordinating the travel details. I ordered the dress and veil online and had the alterations done by my favorite tailor in Seattle. We picked out the types of flowers and arrangements we liked and then made a few calls to florists before placing an order.
We chose the most amazing photographer living on Kauai to do our photos. Being photographers ourselves, Jeremy and I were extremely picky when it came to finding a photographer. After reviewing about fifty different photographers, we decided Emily Helen was simply the best. I contacted her and worked out a mutually beneficial deal, where we paid a significantly reduced rate in exchange for my consulting services to help her business.
Jeremy and I wrote our own vows, and when the big day came, the experience exceeded any expectations that I had. My dad conducted the ceremony, my mom was the ring bearer, Jeremy had decorated the cake, and I decorated the reception table. It was all very sweet and intimate.
To reflect our individual spiritual practices, my dad had designed a uniquely multi-denominational service that incorporated pieces from modern day sages Ekhart Tolle and Paramahamsa Nithyananda, as well as from Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. There were a lot of tears, and a lot of laughter.
I wish you all were there!
Summary: Lessons on Wedding Planning
- Weddings can be extremely costly. Because wedding venders know that couples usually work from a budget, they expect a large pay off, and will charge unreasonably. Be conscious of what you are paying for a given service. Just because you have budgeted the money, it doesn’t mean you need to spend all of it. And just because some people are spending $30,000 on a wedding, that doesn’t mean that you need to do the same.
- We all have preconceived notions of how a wedding is supposed to look, and so when we get married, we try to make it appear like that image in our imagination. Stop for a second and ask yourself why you would need that particular something, and you can save yourself a lot of money. For example, I had envisioned a 3 tiered wedding cake, but we didn’t have 100 people coming to the reception to consume it, so it really didn’t make any sense. But I had latched on to that idea because it matched my image of a wedding. We didn’t end up having a 3 tiered cake, not because we didn’t try, but because circumstances did not allow it. In the end, the single tiered cake we got was perfect, and we still couldn’t finish all of it.
- Relinquish the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Trust that things will go as they are meant to, and even if some detail doesn’t go as planned, let it go! Focus on why you are there in the first place. Focus on the love you feel for your partner. This will bring you peace and minimize unnecessary stress.
Thank you for listening to my story. I had debated on whether or not to make this a public post. In the end, this site is about happiness, and I felt that by sharing a slice of happiness from my own life I might inspire hope in some, and satisfy curiosity in others. :) Thank you again for listening.
Special thank you goes out to Emily and Josh for helping us during our stay:
- Kauai Wedding Photographer – Emily was an amazing photographer and person. We loved working with her. Thank for for suggesting Moloaa for us.
- Josh from Kauai Exclusive, hooked us up with the most amazing deals at Waipouli Beach Resort. Thank you! Thank you!
Related Articles You May Enjoy:
- My Kauai Wedding (Photos via SimplyTina)
- How to Find True Love
- How to Get Over Breakups
- The Secret to Self Loving
- A Guide to Happiness via Self Forgiveness
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