If you found yourself on the hunt for the dreamiest wedding in Tuscany, this is it. A cross-contentntal love story that came full circle under the Tuscan sun and we’ve got SAVVY EVENT STUDIO and Ben Moore to thank for every beautiful detail sitting in The Vault!
From the Couple…What do you get when a boy from Nottingham, UK meets a girl from New York City? Robin from the ‘hood! And so this cross-continental love story between a forest boy and a gritty urban girl all began on a little app called Tinder, on the mystical island of Hong Kong.
After “swiping right” and matching with each other on Tinder in March of 2014, we cautiously met for after work drinks at Mario Batali’s Italian rooftop bar in the middle of Central, Hong Kong. By the time we met, we had both been through some arduous blind date dinners and were nearly ready to delete app completely.
What we both thought was going to be a quick drink turned into a moonlight dinner accompanied by the silly nonsensical banter exchanged between two people who speak very different variations of the otherwise common “English” language — for over six hours. We were both very surprised about how well we got on and also how very different we thought the other would be based solely on our Tinder profile photos. Insert the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”!
But what really cemented us was a life-changing moment in Lisa’s life. Just six months into our relationship, Lisa’s father unexpectedly passed away. As we are both thousands of miles away from home with no family nearby, Lisa needed strong support, patience and love and Paul stepped up to the challenge without a second thought. Still just early into the relationship, it was a true test for both of us; one that could have easily and understandably overtaken us.
Over the weeks and months, Paul took care of Lisa and made sure she was eating regularly, cradled her when she cried. Moreover, he took on Lisa’s greatest passion for photography (www. Wanderandlust.com) as his own so that she could keep that connection with her late-father, who was also an avid photographer.
From the Bride…Ever since my father handed me his old Nikon FM2 for my beginner photography class in high school, I would come home year after year to show him new stills of the world through the lens he passed on to me.
Having escaped the Nanking Massacre in his hometown at the age of four, survived through the Great Leap Forward in his 20’s, run from the Cultural Revolution and persecution by Mao’s Red Guards in his 30’s and then emigrating to the United States in his 40’s with nothing but a suitcase of clothing and books, my dad did not have many happy memories. But those moments that gave him warmth, and perhaps every now and then made him laugh, were carefully documented with his camera and filed into one of his photo archives.
With 50 years of age between us, photography was the only joy we truly shared. The time we spent over our photos (he with his printed albums and I with my iPad) was when we, but for mere moments, overcame the vast cultural divide between us.
We would spend hours going through his film snaps neatly arranged in albums and the colorful stories that came with them. Trekking Yellowstone Park’s forest trails in the 1970’s, shooting faces and NYC street scenes in the 1980’s, documenting family trips to Disney and Shanghai in the 1990’s.
As my dad hit his late-70’s, he became less and less mobile and even the lightest of DSLR cameras became too heavy to tote around. I carried the torch now: grainy film black and whites for high school – 1990’s, grinning friends acting older than our age – 2000’s, vibrant cities and varied landscapes – 2010’s. While his body slowed with age, his eyes continued to dance as if he were the one behind the lens, traversing through endless scenes in search of that perfect shot.
For months after my dad passed away, I kept my camera locked away in my dresser; we both laid as still as the moments it used to so avidly capture.
Paul picked up all these broken pieces and helped me rebuild my life and the shared passion I have with my father. He purchased his own equipment and planned weekend trips for us to explore new cities around us. Slowly, day after day, I began to heal and feel happiness creep back into my life.
I know that somewhere, somehow he’s reviewing this latest camera roll — the one capturing the best day of our lives — and feeling the warmth of the Tuscan sun and the beaming love of two united families.
From the Maid of Honor (who captured our love story so well and brought everyone to tears with her speech)… A bit of history — Lisa and I met in junior high. Not only was she my friend, but she protected me as a sister would, and many times at her own expense. I could share a million stories but I’ll share just this one-
Lisa and I took the train together to school every day. One morning, at the foot of the stairs, we heard the train pulling in. She flew up the stairs and I huffed and puffed my short legs after her. By the time I reached the top, she was already on the train. As the doors closed she stuck out her arms and leg to hold them open, completely ruining her outfit. But she pressed on, shoved the doors open and pulled me in. And as we were plastered against the doors, she somehow managed to pull an oil blotting tissue from her bag and started to blot my face. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
Along the same vein, I attempted to show my love for her when I wore my superman T-shirt and superman ring to threaten to beat a girl up who was spreading lies about Lisa. True story–even the T-shirt part. Our friendship was basically cemented in stone from then on.
Though our lives led us to different colleges, jobs and cities, Lisa remained my close friend, never judging, always listening, always loving.
When Lisa called to tell me she was engaged, I felt what probably many sisters felt to hear that kind of news–joy, relief, and overwhelming excitement. But most of all, I felt pride — for reasons I will explain in a bit.
But first, some honesty — when Lisa first told me about Paul, I think my exact words were ‘I give him 3 months…’
Don’t get me wrong, it had nothing at all to do with Paul. What’s not to like about him? First of all, he’s from the UK, which means he has an English accent, which pretty much immediately puts you on any American girls’ scoreboard! She said he was tall, kind, funny, had a great job and big hands… And you know what they say about big hands… Big hands = big gloves. Big gloves for the best hugs! But still, I had my doubts and here’s why.
I believe that in order to fall in love, you must first learn to love yourself. Lisa grew up in NYC — arguably the best city to learn how to do just that. But over 20+ years, I witnessed Lisa time and time again, leave herself on the bottom of her love-list. I, myself, have been guilty of being on the constant receiving end of her love.
You see, Lisa taught me how to be loved, which in turn allowed me to open my heart to Josh, my husband—and now we have a beautiful son together. Naturally, I wanted the same for Lisa, so it broke my heart when she nonchalantly said at my wedding, ‘I’m never gonna find the one.’ Two months later, enter Paul.
Prior to meeting Paul, his name was just ‘the Brit’ — I couldn’t be bothered with dedicating his name to memory since I was sure he had a 3-month shelf life. But within hours of actually meeting Paul, watching them together, I noticed a distinct shift in Lisa. She was visibly relaxed, always laughing and truly happy. He woke up at dawn 2-mornings of our short 4-day Halong Bay cruise without a complaint because Lisa wanted to take photos of the sunrise. In the streets of Vietnam, she held his hand and scurried behind him as he walked swiftly through the crowds. I’d never seen that balance of power in Lisa’s previous relationships…Perhaps this Brit did have some staying power.
Sadly, Lisa’s father unexpectedly passed in the fall of 2014. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Paul made the trip with Lisa to provide support. As I watched Lisa quietly weep for her loss, I wanted nothing more than to put that superman T-shirt back on and shield her from whatever was hurting her. I ran to give her a hug but when I got to her, Paul already had his arms around her and she was clinging to the back of his pants, the way a little girl would her father. Lisa had finally found her real superman.
Paul, thank you for loving Lisa as she is, and for opening her heart, something many have tried but all have failed until now. I never thought of it as the impossible, but knew it would take someone truly special to do. I hope you will always cherish her and know that though she’s strong, you have her heart–she is vulnerable.
Lisa, I could not be happier for you. I am so proud that you finally learned to love yourself enough to be unconditionally loved by this man. As I wrap up this unnecessarily long speech, I’ll leave you with this quote–“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I believed that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together forever.
Photography: Ben Moore | Cinematography: Waterfall Visuals | Event Planning: SAVVY EVENT STUDIO | Floral Design: Gianluca Florum | Wedding Dress: Inbal Dror | Wedding Dress: Noel Chu Atelier | Cake: Sylvia Brighina | Hair + Makeup: Daniela Delia | Lighting: Wedding Music And Lights | Groom's Attire: W.W. Chan & Sons Tailor | Officiant: TUSCANPLEDGES | Venue: Castelfalfi | Bridal Boutique: Audella Bridal Hong Kong | Furniture Rental: Preludio Noleggi | Printed Materials: Lisa Wang