Mars & Deborah 3:
As Deborah went to the departure hall to fly out of Adelaide I knew that the next few months were going to drag on slowly and that I would miss her like crazy. I just didnt want her to go but that was the reality of the situation. When she got back...
>> Continued
 

 

 
     
 

 
 

She's From:   Taiwan
He's From:     United States

Chapter 7 - "Bride" - November 25, 2000, Wedding Day!

Our entire relationship, from the internet to our visits across the world and our long waits in between, was a long journey.

And now, that journey is ending, and we will begin a whole new one together. I love my Bride!

  Sara in her wedding gown all ready
for the Jewish ceremony
  My beautiful internet romance is now in a Wedding Gown, to be married to me!

It was hard to believe that two and a half years ago I received a simple little I.M. on the internet from a Chinese girl with the handle "Tulip28" in response to my personal ad with the handle "Backrubber." She said, "Is it true?" (Referring of course to my ad, which stated that I would rub my sweetheart's back an hour each day.) I said it was. (Uh, okay, so I exaggerated. She won't let me live it down either!)

Unlike in American tradition, in the Jewish tradition the Groom and Bride do see each other before she walks down the aisle.

 

 



   

 

 
       
  There are different ways of doing this, but in our Wedding we had a small, private Ceremony prior to the public one in a neighboring room at the church in which several rituals took place: The Bedeken - "The Veiling of the Bride" and the signing of the Ketubah - "The Wedding Contract."

While I waited in the room with Rabbi and Richard (our Cantor), Mick (Best Man) and Joe (Groomsman), Dad, and David (our photographer) with his assistant, I glanced out the window and saw my Bride coming down the sidewalk (see above left). That was my first view of her. It was a strangely thrilling experience. "My God," I thought to myself. "That's MY Bride. That's my BRIDE!" Suddenly I felt ashamed to be looking at her already - I felt I was doing something wrong.

"Should I just stand here?" I asked the Rabbi nervously. We were all just idely standing around in this back room. "It feels so informal."

"You might open the door for her," one of the guys quipped. (And they were just getting started.)

I think Mom and stepped in at that point and said that Sara wasn't ready yet - she was to be taken into another back room for more work. So Rabbi ordered me and my men upstairs to our "waiting room." I rushed out before Sara entered, followed by Mick and Joe.

This room had windows overlooking the guests as they filed in and sat down. I could see Don and April, John and Esther, Trish and Daniel, Stephanie... I had not seen some of them in years, and I had never seen them together. I was a bit nervous. To relax me, Joe handed me a Bible he had opened and asked me to read aloud a verse he found. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of death..." I snapped the book shut as Joe and Mick laughed.

Finally Rabbi came and called us back down... The Ceremonies were to begin. This is it!

"Ketubah"

I walked into the room and saw my Bride, face to face. She smiled at me. I smiled back.

She had chosen an impressively long veil. I found this to be exotic and beautiful.

The custom of Bedeken recalls the predicament of Jacob who thought he was marrying Rachel only to discover, after the ceremony, that he had married Leah. The tradition now is that a Groom and Bride see each other before the ceremony, thereby avoiding such confusion.

With the Rabbi's instruction I lifted the long veil over her face. There was prayer, and Sara and I read passages to one another. 

Sara and I then signed the Ketubah, as did Meng Chin and Mick (witnesses). We purchased ours from Ketubah.com that had a beautiful country setting, called "The Four Seasons." We chose a packaged text that could be used for nondenominational couples. The text was in both English and Hebrew, and the Rabbi would fill in the important dates and information. The Ketubah would later be framed and matted for hanging. 
I then lowered the Veil over Sara again, and we lined up in the back room of the Church to begin our procession!

"Down the Aisle"

Here comes the Bride!

Each party would take turns walking down the aisle after Richard (above left) announced us in Hebrew and English. After my Mom and Dad escorted me to the front, Meng Chin and Yufan brought Sara to me.

Our music came from a solo Harpist, played by Anna Kate Mackle of the Florida Orchestra.

I was proud and confident, and kept my eyes riveted on this incredible Oriental woman who wanted to be my wife!

After Meng Chin and Yufan helped Sara gather her train, Sara circled me 3 times. 

There are no certainties as to the origins of this very ancient Hebrew marriage tradition. In some Weddings the Bride circles more than 3 times, but I found this to be excessive, as it was difficult for Sara to do. The best reference to 3 circlings is represented in Hosea 2:19-20 where the phrase "I will betroth you to me," occurs three times: "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in rightness and justice, in love and compassion; I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.

Sara and Chris's Jewish wedding ceremony in America

Blessings"

After the vows, as Sara and I do not know Hebrew, and were too nervous to remember sentences more than two words long in English, Richard would now speak blessings on our behalf. In the ancient days the couple would speak for themselves. 
We were blessed in Hebrew with the Tallit (Prayer Shawl) wrapped around our shoulders. This beautiful Tallit was purchased on the internet from IsraelCraft.com and imported from Israel. It had a band of exquisite art along the top. We chose Sara's favorite colors (orange) and a design that I thought was very nice (a graphic of Moses parting the Sea).

In a typical Jewish wedding, the parents of the Bride and Groom flank both sides of the Huppah, and the Bridal Party and Groomsmen stand behind the Bride and Groom. This forms an intimate enclosure facing the Rabbi and Cantor, and the audience does not see as much as they would in an American Wedding. As Sara's parents did not attend, one side of the Huppah was left open, which was fortunate for the photographer and videographer.

"Crush"

And with the Tallit then removed, our journey of love ended as it had begun: with a crush!

But this time it was the crush of a glass wrapped in a cloth, not the crush of my heart for that of a genie in a bottle that I happened upon one day while searching...

Or to be more exact, we decided that I should crush a lightbulb wrapped in a cloth - nobody knew the difference, but it makes a louder "pop!"

"Mazel Tov!" cheered the crowd.

"By the authority granted to me, it is my great privilege to pronounce you Husband and Wife..."

"Wedding Bells"

Richard then blessed us in Hebrew again - this time it was not on our behalf but for us. Holding up his fingers in the traditional "V" shape that represents the Hebrew letter Shin, he prayed in Hebrew over us, and then the Ceremony was over!

Sara and I strode up the aisle, followed by the rest of the Wedding Party, and we lined up in the back room to shake hands with the guests on the way out. What a wonderful and joyous experience this was!

Afterward, instead of throwing rice, the guests rang little bells as we left the Church and made our way to our Limo. This idea was to respect the local wildlife, as the birds would eat the rice and become sick.

It was a humid Florida day, with just a few sprinkles of rain and tiny gusts of wind with dark rolling clouds as a storm was coming in. I am told that getting married on a rainy day is a sign of good luck. 

For me, the good luck was that the downpour didn't begin until after we had finished all our photos and rode comfortably back to Grandpa's house for the reception.



 

Sara and Chris on their way to the wedding reception
 

"Toasts"

Of course now that Mick was my Best Man, he had the first speech. And he wasn't prepared, because he didn't know he was going to be the Best Man until about 24 hours ago. But he made a good impromptu speech and everyone enjoyed it.

When it came around to my Toast to Sara, I was not very prepared myself. I had written a very rough thought down on a piece of paper in the middle of all the craziness of planning, which was not what I intended. But I read it aloud, and it worked. I felt more overcome with emotion in this moment than any other, and I'm not sure why except that it was a very personal message in front of all my closest friends and family.

"Cake"

As the reception took place in the largest room available in Grandpa's house, which has a great view of Tampa Bay, it was still very crowded. Fitting about 50 people in there was a strategy. The only place we could put the cake was on the shelf that held a large anchor. 

When Mick originally saw it he snickered and he suggested my wedding song should be, "Anchors a-away, my Lord! Anchors a-way!" :-)

There was a little Bride and Groom standing on the cake under a gazebo, and Mom painted the Bride's hair black to make her look Oriental. I guess there aren't too many "mixed marriage" wedding shops.

"Honorarium"

Customarily, the officiating religious authority of the Wedding is given an Honorarium - a cash gift. I presented the Rabbi with his Honorarium during the Reception. However, I told Rabbi that since he gave us a Jewish style wedding, I would present his Honorarium "Chinese" style.

In Taiwan when you hand over a cash gift, you put it into a red envelope, hold it with both hands and thrust it outward. The gift is also received with both hands and usually both parties bow.

Rabbi John Fischer and his wife Patrice Fischer are Professors at the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary where John is also the Dean. They own and manage Menorah Ministries, which takes groups to Israel every several years for a very unique tour.

"Car"

While I mingled with all my friends and family during the reception, at some point my step-brother David came up and said that he thinks a lot of people won't go home yet because there is some tradition of the Bride and Groom leaving the Reception first. I noticed he was soaking wet, but it didn't occur to me that he might have been out in the rain for some reason - it was pouring outside.

I was concerned maybe I was inconveniencing people. So I decided to check around. Nobody seemed to know of such a custom, and reassured me that there was no inconvenience. With this evidence, and with all my friends here, I was just too excited to leave before they did. Many of my friends flew out as early as the next morning. So I continued mingling with them.

Much later on, David and Michael approached me again and said that they wanted to show me something before they left. I followed them out to the driveway and saw what they did to Grandpa's car - which Sara and I were using during our stay. In all the excitement I had completely forgotten this tradition! The back seat was filled with balloons and there was a really ugly blow-up doll in the driver's seat!

Sara and I were, in fact, the last to leave that evening. When we pulled out of the driveway I heard this racket. "Do you hear that sound?" I pulled to a stop, and the sound stopped. "It stopped." Sara looked at me with wonder, as she was not versed in American traditions. So I pulled out again and the sound continued. A loud rattling noise. The quick mind that I am, I figured it out. There were cans tied behind the car. Poor David and Michael waited for hours hoping that they could watch us pull out. But as it happened, we woke up quite a few people at 1:00 AM driving back to our Hotel!

"Our Story"

Sara and I didn't have a formal Honeymoon because we ran out of money and vacation time from my job. So we decided we would have a honeymoon later, when we could afford a nice long good trip to Europe, or a drive around the United States. We spent the next few days after the reception at a beautiful hotel suite overlooking the Harbor.

And that wraps our Internet Love Story!



 

Sara and Chris point to opposite sides of the world from which they come 

For two people to meet and fall in love this way is unprecedented in the annals of Time. Ours is a New Generation of love, people from different cultures meeting from opposite sides of the globe and learning to love each other using a medium that didn't exist until the end of the 20th Century.

Everything seemed to work for us. If I hadn't accepted employment at Mail.com Inc., I would not have been online enough to find Sara on instant messenger and would never have been able to afford dating her. If we hadn't been brave enough to take a chance, we would never have met in person. If we were never able to express ourselves from the heart, we wouldn't have found so much to talk about every single day for 2 years on the internet. If we had not been patient with our relationship, and let it grow at its own natural speed, we might have given up and sought more immediate gratification. 

If you want to find your love on the internet, it can be done - but like every relationship it requires courage, honesty, care, patience and thought.

Sara and I now look forward to a new story. It will begin when we decide to have our first baby! We hope you check back here from time to time and see if the new story has begun!

For now, we are enjoying one another alone, learning to live as a couple, and dreaming of buying a home. Sara's networking landed her a job teaching children Chinese language (opposite of what she did in Taiwan) on Saturdays, and a full time job as a Paralegal-in-training for an immigration attorney in the Mandarin Chinatown in Flushing, Queens.

We commute into our jobs together every morning on the train. Meanwhile I look forward to replacing my commute with a writing career, hoping to sell my science fiction novel manuscript or motion picture screenplays. For anyone interested, our website is here.

Yours Truly,

"Chris"