On July 9 2016, a Chinese groom in a traditional red robe rode a horse outside Xi’an’s South City Gate. Horns, drums, and other music in his entourage went with him to fetch his bride. Later, as the crowd waited, he emerged from the hotel with her under a red veil. She stepped into a palanquin.
Through the red veil, spectators could see her blonde hair.
Locals and media outlets were shocked to find out that the bride was in fact an American and rushed to share the news about the international couple and their very traditional Chinese wedding. But for friends and family members, this was no surprise. After all, the bride and groom were none other than Hangzhou’s very own Jessie Xue and 薛䶮 (Xue Yan, English name: Steven).
“I was actually the one who wanted to do more of the traditional wedding,” Jessie said. “So much culture is lost in [my country] America. I married Steven, but I also married his culture -- I wanted a mixture of our traditions and I think we accomplished that.”
‘A mixture of traditions’ is the best way to describe a couple that introduces themselves as “super, crazy in love.” They lived together and worked in Hangzhou for 4 years, Jessie at Hangzhou International School (HIS), Steven at an English training school, and later at a British design company.
Contrary to the stories written in the wake of their wedding, the couple did not meet in Minnesota, but at Xi’an’s Shuyuan International Party Hostel in January 2012. Jessie, who had been in China since 2011, was traveling, Steven, a local, was working.
“I went to Xi’an to travel and see stuff,” Jessie said. “But then, unfortunately I got pretty sick. Steven took care of me, and took me to the hospital. I thought that was really nice of him, and so we exchanged QQ numbers and stayed in touch. Over time, we felt that something was there. And...here we are!”
Despite cultural differences, the couple fell in love and found ways to connect.
“We always spoke English,” Jessie said. “But I could speak some Chinese, and one day asked him to speak Chinese with me. It was like a Pocahontas moment: we understood each other perfectly, and I knew it was meant to be.”
The wedding itself included true Chinese traditions, including the fetching-of-the-bride and a tea-serving ceremony. Such details, of course, were surprising and exciting for non-Chinese guests.
The couple has currently moved to Minnesota, Jessie’s home-state. As for their future, they’ll see see what else fate has in store for them.
“Anything can happen,” Jessie said. “Sometimes you go to travel, and you end up with a husband. But that’s what makes it fun.”
Here’s to many happy years together from friends in Hangzhou!Categories: Hangzhou Snapshot, Life, Stories