- The Lowdown
- How We Met
We met through a mutual friend back in July 2014.
Michael was a PhD student at Stanford who had recently begun to question his sexuality, and so he asked his one gay friend, Mark Jeng if he knew any guys that he could introduce Michael too.
Mark asked Michael what his type was, and he essentially described Derrick. Mark laughed and said, I think I know someone you might be interested in.
That night Mark took Michael to a gay club and tried to get Derrick to come out and meet him. Derrick asked Mark for a picture, and he sent a very dimly-lit selfie that failed to pique Derrick's interest. Derrick decided to stay in that night, and Mike thought that would be the end of their story.
One week later Derrick and Michael met at another mutual friend's birthday party, and Derrick had no idea Michael was the dimly-lit selfie guy" from the week before. Michael looked totally different in the light of the sun, and Derrick was very interested -- immediately putting the moves on Michael.
We hit it off that night and promptly scheduled a follow-up date. From that point on, we were inseparable and officially became boyfriends two months later, in September 2014.
As a gay couple, we had the opportunity to create a wedding that wasn't bound to tradition or cultural norms. We got to design a gay wedding just as we wanted.
Many guests said that it didn't feel like a wedding;" instead, it was a celebration of pure love, which was exactly what we were going for.
Same-sex marriages are a relatively new thing in our society, so there's not yet a template for the do's and don'ts.
We feel blessed to be writing the history books now! More about why equal marriage is so important in sections below.
- The Proposal
Mike and Derrick talked openly about getting married, but Derrick didn't know precisely when or how Mike would propose.
Ultimately, Mike chose Christmas dinner (2018) surrounded by his family in Phoenix, Arizona, to pop the question. It was intimate and perfect.
Family is really important to Derrick, but most of his family are in Asia -- so being able to share that moment with Mike's family was exceptional.
The 3.5-carat Asscher cut engagement ring was really special, too! Derrick especially liked how architectural and masculine the ring looked.
Samantha Jones, from Sex And The City
- The Wedding Shoot
We fully trusted our photographer, Peter Nguyen. In fact, the only brief we gave him was to capture the love -- between the both of us, as well as from all of our family and friends who were there to celebrate with us.
- The (Actual) Wedding
It was imperative for us to get married in San Francisco -- the city in which we met.
We specifically chose SF City Hall for our ceremony because it's one of the most famous landmarks in LGBTQ+ history. It's also the place where same-sex marriage licences were first granted, many years before it was written into federal law.
We also had a lot of families and friends flying in from all over the world (e.g. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Australia, London, Canada, as well as from New York, Atlanta, Cedar Rapids, Houston and Phoenix) so we wanted to give our guests the full San Francisco experience.
We kicked off our gay wedding weekend at Uncle Harry's, a penthouse in one of San Francisco's tallest buildings, to show our guests the incredible views of the SF skyline.
Our ceremony was at SF City Hall, which is the capital of our city and rich in LGBTQ+ history. And then we escorted our 200 guests from City Hall to the reception at the historic San Francisco Fairmont Hotel by cable car trolleys, an iconic SF attraction.
It was also important for the wedding to reflect our personalities. Michael is a PhD graduate from Stanford University and a scientist at a sustainable energy start-up in Silicon Valley, so he's very passionate about sustainability. He worked with our planner Thomas Bui to ensure that our gay wedding would be as environmentally friendly as possible.
We were proud to work with the Fairmont Hotel, which has a broad corporate commitment to use, wherever possible, sustainable, locally sourced and organically grown products.
Derrick is an events industry veteran as Google's Head of Event Marketing. He's responsible for developing the Internet giant's event marketing strategy for its top revenue-generating businesses including its ads and marketing platforms and delivering brand experiences that are uniquely Google.
However, planning his wedding was very different than planning a Google event. Instead of Google's clean and simple aesthetic, Derrick's style is a bit more flamboyant!
He loves over-the-top extravagance (with sustainability in mind!), and this aesthetic is reflected in the wedding. His favourite quote from the Sex And The City movie is from Samantha Jones, while she's admiring a beautiful diamond ring at a high-end auction.
He was so taken by this quote that the event had the personalized license plate LIL2MCH" made for his Mercedes.
- The Afterparty
San Francisco is the capital of fine dining in the US, with more 3-Michelin Star restaurants than any other city in the country, so we wanted to bring the best of SF cuisine to our guests.
We served an exquisite 4-course menu which included SF favourites including jumbo lump Dungeness crab cakes and hand-pulled burrata and heirloom tomato salad to start, followed by choice of pan-seared filet mignon, roasted red snapper, vegan gnocchi or Asian duck breast (much of Derrick's side of the family is from Asia!) for the main course, and of course a 6-tiered gay wedding cake with favours including rich chocolate (Michael's favourite) and the top tier being banana creme (Derrick's favourite).
- Final Words
Three most memorable moments
...who sang at Carnegie Hall, singing I Left My Heart in San Francisco," for our first dance.
This song was first performed by Tony Bennett at our reception venue at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco in December 1961.
The very last song the band played was...
That's What Friends Are For," and during that song, our friends and family created a circle around the dance floor for Michael and Derrick.
In the final moments of the song, they came in for the biggest group hug you've ever seen, and Derrick cried the ugliest (but happiest) cry you've ever seen. Check out the photos in the album!
Both of Derrick's parents have passed, so Derrick's uncle (his mother, Rosanna Djang's, brother), Mr John Wong, danced with him for the Mother-Groom" dance.
During the dance, his uncle told him just how proud his mom would be of him if she were still here today: You have to know how proud she is of you and all that you've achieved.
And also that you have found Michael, who makes you complete." Of course, Derrick ugly-cried; photos in the album to prove it!
- Happy Thoughts