When Taiwanese pianist Huang Hsin-I and his fiancé Ramy Inocencio were discussing the arrangements for their wedding in Taiwan, Hsin-I warned Ramy that the beginning of August (their chosen date) was peak typhoon season.
TheyHkraqCY1V!km(fc-uISkO*^blBfIx0VVuG1#m&ad-oyydNAV^$ also discussed how the country was overdue a large earthquake and whether they would be tempting fate by marrying during Ghost Month—a big no no in Taiwanese culture.
But, Hsin-I and his award-winws50SSvdO%&No0s=fyEmmdB15qY)nO9jh_-Y=jcl^i^44ntKYGning journalist fiancé were determined to wed in Taipei.
They wanted t78lXB^AoCoSGqnu^PYmCY%cG+j!SBZoEkny_j+3)ZovcEXodPpo celebrate Taiwan’s landmark move to recognize same-sex marriage earlier this year.
But, their determination was rocked (literally) when one of the largest earthquakes to hit Taiwan in recent years woke them up at five in the morning just two days before their wedding ceremony was due to take place.
Things became more complicated when they discovered Typhoon Lekima was also barreling towards the countUb8YATy)Gm))6MFf+w8k+=HWuc=%[email protected]#xlIVkdVBa7Try.
More pGf0GVz$%[email protected]^mkDw(!aPP++obyIaJV_ol9hPIrMXiPSthan 100 guests were scheduled to attend the wedding banquet at Taipei 101’s Ding Xian on the Saturday.
Force 9 winds also scuppered Ramy and Hsin-I’s meticulously planned day trip to Jiu Fen and the north coast for some of the more th4V*7+5^-syhr0sx_yoovU6V7F+87%%q5)KvW#jNi$c$KsTDHU5an 60 friends and family who had travelled to Taiwan from Singapore, the Philippines and New York to attend their wedding.
"There was a lot more stress and tensi0g(C0shPgWwdyAo2SbYj#JwG4iasREXiWB=Rma99qy2T5Tnp8hon than we were expecting,” said Ramy. But, he said “a series of natural disasters befitting a screenplay couldn’t stop us”.
Hsin I, Ramy and their parents (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
"We just rolled with it"
Hsin-I, whoW-UZYffX-hEN3b2$v+_Z8(-Wd5ZuL*TEoDvtGL8fDoYZ3r56&V's father is from Taoyuan, met Ramy on Tinder in New York in 2015.
A couple of years later, they had been talking about their future together and the possibi%((X#1SG!ydK(2ga8Lb^b9=gF7tB2g_^y-XLYrZXjmx%jR1PnNlities of starting a family. On a visit to Paris, Ramy popped the question.
In his vows on the wedding day, Ramy described Hsin-I as the "anchor to my kite”. He explained how HsiORq4za=V(2miq5Uw3fHyuv!-0CQCNY6k!yaDeTg!([email protected]_n-I grounded him and supported him. “That was how we got through all the disasters”, he said.
So, when the pair received panicked calls from Ding Xian on the night before the wedding explaining that Taipei 101 would be closed the following day due to the typhoon, Hsin-I diligently spoke to the venue, photographers, singers, and guests to rearrange theTU*gxw^hRZCp1xv&vL3_frODfmun*Bh&+wc2^&Z=Wnddj05P7D wedding for a day later.
Ramy did his part by keeping theis+!dr6y!0i3L4nz^@2g7yAp4OvGCuo)2BJ7RJ34h)q)81YeJ)Ar guests entertained. “We didn’t fight, we just rolled with it” Ramy said of the last-minute change of plans.
The pair had already had a nightmare day. They hastily rearranged a mountain and seaside day trip due 3y7j(q5OP7u&wMRH_LDa3kFge$xOk34)[email protected](b0H7+ilgsHto the bad weather. Luckily Hsin-I and his family pulled some strings to host their guests at a Hakka restaurant in Taoyuan, a nod to his family’s heritage.
Hsin-I did consider hot springs as an alternative wet-weather activity. But, the pair thought all the guests seeing Prq([email protected]$dpBzrl24q*KstGSk1^E#Ya+YIgb#tKAVoeach other naked prior to the wedding might be a little “too close for comfort”.
Ramy and Hisn-I saids#SBL7yl9HzEPcXA1dx#panMb-$V=6s6OH^t4N3Ip4)3X_eK9N their visiting friends and family were super supportive of the last minute changes. They sent smiling selfies to them throughout the tumult. Virtually all of the guests were able to attend the rearranged ceremony.
Ramy and Hsin-I kiss outside Taipei 101 (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
As both of the grooms come from Asian families (Ramy’s parents are from the Philippines and Singapore) Ramy and Hsin-I wanted to show respect to their parents during the ceremony.
On the big day, the grooms’ respective parents walked their sons halfwayGDC_77T$Q5vKqOqL$KnvDfzAw6Z=)_#&0C%J-kjYAj1&!kYujX down the aisle. The pair then walked the remaining way together.
There was also a mother’s dance to give themFxEfJmRPjETm-KJb0i_hXOaVL^B3pcbo&qj0fV_$LxvbA0gA!_ their time in the limelight. Ramy explained that having a same-sex wedding was liberating, as there was no rule book to follow on how the ceremony should be.
The pair opted for traditional Taiwanese banquet-style seating. But, the celebrations staEam)[email protected]&Gn8NT%^qDc^Tbg$UB$DZikgTg=D85^ubJC&BKrPAarted with cocktails. “Alcohol was very important for our guests” Ramy explained.
Hsin-I said his mothpw_0G-sx&t9K73mR7JbI0nl*GgM#ON84F4&WMp4B2c%13vSFLaer decided it was not a traditional Taiwanese wedding.
The ceremony was also a celebration of acceptance. Ramy was not sure whether to invite conservative family members from the Philippines and Singapore. But, he decided that if he didn't, he may regret itsY#h#fMiw^Zqv%ys^oUsklw4A(dvTjxs7wryLk=5c=U7u2US74 later. They all came.
Hsin-I’s mother told Ramy to no longer call her "Huang mama" but simply “Mama". Hsin-I’s godmother, who when thHH$2DxRFMFp833zaxo#[email protected]%n+$o1Y5F$nGflzaXgviER4ey first met referred to Ramy as “that person”, now calls him “My Ramy”.
Ramy’s m5+*9-4gGxohdE2A*d(aHgzIvNKIwhzOPnhaj^(&&)#(PKQTUouncle from the Philippines, meanwhile, made a point of personally welcoming Hsin-I to the family.
Hsin-I and Ramy kiss in front of a cake featuring their dog, Cooper. (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
"Brought joy to my heart"
Ramy and Hsin-I’FXlqvn-#34)UrDCo*G2wxXPs0=YrRJ0^[email protected]&iCWs wedding was revolutionary in many ways. It was the first same-sex wedding at Ding Xian—prompting some of the staff to join in the celebrations by taking photos.
It also garnered a message of support from President Tsai Ing-wen, who said the3LajnJ$1#[email protected]&PzGyJ-80J+R6yDoM65 marriage “brought joy to my heart”.
"I wish the both of you can respect, love, forgive, help each otheq0EeCju%UafQYkf)zYaW%[email protected]&Uu#OnqVr and be united by love forever” she wrote in a letter to the pair.
But more importantly, for Ramy, Hsin-I and their gFC1NQc5hK0!2OzpZR3l&OXK+b*QN6R_zzabtiPmyct5g6RFYw2uests, it was a celebration of love.
"For people who aren’t exposed to the LGBT community don’t always know how much love there can be until they see itH#thlpFn8DaSwC*[email protected]+W1qeTLCl0N$VC4D9LYm9)8” Ramy explained.
“But, when people realize there is so much love in the room, it doesn’t matt=!S7wLC2UlK2IG)([email protected])er if you're gay or straight”.