Back in May, my friend Yufeng asked me for my mailing address. Yufeng is one of my oldest summer camp friends. We met back in 2005 and I’ve seen him a few times during my visits back to New York. He got engaged back in December, so me and our mutual friend Barry (who was at summer camp with us, in New York when I visited the both of them, and actually shares an alma mater with Yufeng) were 99.9% sure that we were going to receive wedding save-the-dates. Hurray!
About a week later, Barry informed me that he received an invite! For a July wedding! Ohmygosh so soon! And I waited and waited and… started wondering if maybe I wasn’t actually invited? If maybe Yufeng and his [now] wife decided to remove me from the guestlist? Barry offered to bring me as his +1 but I thought that would be pretty awkward if I was explicitly not invited. Luckily for everyone, I got an email with more details about the wedding and found out that the postal service randomly returned my invite to the bride’s parents. With that, we booked our July 4th weekend in Roanoke and prepared to celebrate Yufeng’s big day!
(Note all photos are by Pat Cori unless otherwise indicated.)
After my first ever Cracker Barrel visit (I can’t believe it took me so long to go! I had a great meal and love the little general store!), we arrived in Roanoke and checked into our hotel, buzzing and ready for the wedding.
The ceremony was late Saturday morning at the absolutely stunning St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. (Random fact: This is also the childhood church of one of my coworkers, who is from Roanoke!) Gorgeous stained glass windows, an amazing altar, beautiful statues. We took a few photos with my friend Barry and I got my first-ever in-person look at the bride. You see, before the wedding day, I had actually never met Deirdre before!
First of all, it needs to be said here that the singer was magnificent. Her voice was so clear and pure but strong, she had excellent breath and tone control… I mean, this congregation is so lucky to have her! Such a lovely voice.
Second of all, this was easily the most-Catholic wedding ceremony I have ever sat through. There was much singing, to the chagrin of me, Ben, and Barry, who missed a cue to refer to the book of hymnals. I felt so awkward and embarrassed that I just started giggling uncontrollably, and it was very difficult to keep it in. While I do appreciate the ritual and ceremony of the Catholic Church, it is very easy to feel out of the loop if you haven’t learned all of them. However, I later learned that the ceremony was modified to accommodate folks who were unfamiliar with Catholic ceremonies and that everyone was kind of playing it by ear and just following the priest’s lead. For example, he made an unexpected joke about double happiness, which is traditionally used in China for weddings, that took Yufeng and his family by surprise.
After the lovely (if sometimes stressful-for-me) ceremony, we broke for a little recess. The families had set up an excursion up Mill Mountain to hike, look out over Roanoke, and enjoy a delicious lunch of biscuit sandwiches! It was a nice view and we got to meet some of Yufeng’s high school friends, who marveled at the fact that he had invited two of his summer camp buds to his wedding years and years later.
But the best thing about the excursion up was the Mill Mountain Star, the largest freestanding man-made illuminated star! (Citation needed…)
This was the star of many of the Roanoke Snapchat filters. (Yufeng had his own Snapchat filter for the wedding!) (Also, let me make this confession now: I was very confused when I realized Roanoke, Virginia was not Roanoke the Lost Colony.) While we were enjoying the mountain air, the bride and groom were taking photos with the wedding party.
And then it was time for the reception! Luckily for us, while we knew no one at the wedding but Barry before the mountain hike, we were seated with our new Mill Mountain friends! The food was yummy (and even worth the huge oil splatter I got on my dress), the dancing was great, and everyone had a wonderful time.
Yufeng’s younger brother did a great lion dance!
And of course, the moment of fear when I stand at the very back of a crowd of women with my hands firmly behind my back.
It was a really lovely wedding and I couldn’t be happier for Yufeng and Deirdre.
The next morning, there was a lovely brunch at the Maridor Bed & Breakfast, where we got to send off the couple one last time.
Until next time! Thank you for inviting us to your wedding, Yufeng, we truly had a wonderful time and are so happy for you both. I am so grateful to have been able to call you my friend for the past 11 years and could not have imagined, back in 2005, being able to see you marry the love of your life.