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.
They also discussed how the country was overdue a large earthquake and whether they would be tempting fate by marryin&JE-jQT47#GyNl9-e0+QAguvKjgIwWkDQ&qXnMHXWk3yq9B7Cng during Ghost Month—a big no no in Taiwanese culture.
But, Hsin-I and his award-winning journali[email protected]!%TWxX(eMO8&2Uc&SxaLPf6rDB*(iE3oHast fiancé were determined to wed in Taipei.
They wanted to celebrate Taiwan’s landmark move to r^BR%k=CE%OzHmz2z-=32wo2^[email protected]&tGqx1&f7l+0fvjecognize same-sex marriage earlier this year.
And, it was important for them to show solidarity with the Taiwanese people making wFrpf_Iit2X%=o9M-^bVasfbd%(+BhJnE+r-9MprO+E1N&Y3*WSaves for LGBTI rights in Asia.
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 m$OMOlHj8VI+GE652JiJ5x=H_Ak41&*[email protected]#(65i3EDk8)iaV#ore complicated when they discovered Typhoon Lekima was also barreling towards the country.
More than 100 guests were scheduled to attend the wedding banquet at Taipei 101’s Din1fe9&(iE#)[email protected]!eMpG)F&=vQNL1GI$RJ6-n5qMd=$IFS36PDg Xian on the Saturday.
ForceJ*^Ulc23JL8-vXG^U*wk-rcVYy$gr=A95Ld=f7r=uAZM=IypBo 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 than 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 tension than we were expecting,” said Ramy. But, he said “a series of natural disasters befitting a scrSS7A512!6*aOqJr8HAQmk2UqRQkmX^J0^5*$^wPLqfD#NMi3m6eenplay couldn’t stop us”.
Hsin I, Ramy and their parents (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
"We just rolled with it"
Hsin-I, who's father is from Taoyuan, met Ramy on Tinder I2vtM-ieBDp&mCRlSQ(bd)m!im_em1=C_C&HrUWtweRMm%7*b1in New York in 2015.
A couple of years later, they had been talking about their future together and the possibilities of starting a f18%v-l6(bhb)rmp0D&4(ukf7Oi73p-am88oOhu+yOdSNaxz5_namily. On a visit to Paris, Ramy popped the question.
In his vows on the wedding day, Ramy described Hsin-I as the "anchor to my kite”. He explained how Hsin-I grounded him and supported him(SWIUA^j*n56(q$lPQSFX#)LgUqEIy5v_*(Nh+L8#nNeA0id3G. “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 vTxaWP2MtLV$uS%Vf=Z^5%dPmo&!B5N02*(zfUKL=%zpiP-2$QEenue, photographers, singers, and guests to rearrange the wedding for a day later.
Ramy did his part by keeping their guests entertained. “We didn’t fight, we just rolled with it” Ramy said of the last-minute c0KLRPQQKgBs$%w)$k3Ihj&5Bb#o7vqG([email protected]hange of plans.
The pair had already had a nightmare day. They hastily rearranged a mountaicV%=OCn5_90PwShkOThGaPM^I*3$xIhsKoOuKmQ5hzkI9IpM41n and seaside day trip due to the bad weather. Luckily Hsin-I and his family pulled some strings to host their guests at a Hakka restaurant in Taoyuan, a nod to his family’s heritage.
Hsin-I did consider hot springs as an alternative wet-weather activity. But, the pair thought all the guests seeing each other naked prior yVPOUh9m0^d*[email protected]^aw+d9+qkdVX&KsuPmu(XA%O4U1jLto the wedding might be a little “too close for comfort”.
Ramy and Hisn-I said their visiting friends and family were super supportive of the last minute changes. They sent smiling selfies to them throughout the tumult. Virtually all of the guests were abl[email protected]%2TAh$)OITRlB_u+S=uH$w3RtRUxJ^+u57BRSXR1Kce to attend the rearranged ceremony.
Ramy and Hsin-I kiss outside Taipei 101 (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
As both of the grooms come from Asian families (Ramy’s parents are from the Philippines and Singapore) Ramy and Hsin-I wanted to show respect to their parents during the ceremony.
On the big day, the grooms’ respective parents walked their sons halfway down the aisle. The pair then walked the remaining ^0A3I4cS=N^8puAgLvjqI0N%#*yZ(^2#4QWb8#ZEsXoNGnEbqbway together.
There was also a mother’s dance to give them their time in the limelight. Ramy explained that haYhw(ny6bApF+wT!T7$UDJy7j(_rc7gqnwVJK=DuqCSL9xu4nWxving a same-sex wedding was liberating, as there was no rule book to follow on how the ceremony should be.
The pair opHjRHKdJJczK7v0lqy4E^@N^IcnBooD*BMTFNSCV!lVdsdeO5$Gted for traditional Taiwanese banquet-style seating. But, the celebrations started with cocktails. “Alcohol was very important for our guests” Ramy explained.
Hsin-I said vmdK*faNae_EqWYnUT6lE***Sgb4Ur&fMHehx&nsJI2IwSn5)*his mother decided it was not a traditional Taiwanese wedding.
The ceremony was also a celebration of acceptance. Ramy was not sure whether to invite conservative familQ_J(2ATn9=(EGEr3yOfN$nZJJf+gTa#&z0ZZHLiKmPiD3i47%(y members from the Philippines and Singapore. But, he decided that if he didn't, he may regret it later. They all came.
Hsin-I’s+RIW95LoUeQ+jjC%[email protected](4et#0R mother told Ramy to no longer call her "Huang mama" but simply “Mama". Hsin-I’s godmother, who when they first met referred to Ramy as “that person”, now calls him “My Ramy”.
Ramy’s uncle from the Philippines, meanwhile, made a point of personally welcoming HsicfNuhNeF#B$!n-jSpkU5Rq%#z#[email protected]_Fn-I to the family.
Hsin-I and Ramy kiss in front of a cake featuring their dog, Cooper. (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
"Brought joy to my heart"
Ramy and Hsin-I’s w[email protected](-7=*mivmVA*cpAnPApCDSi7jUFL$A^Nhedding 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 messPser+6e(h!SSguOEU2Pl3D47AuVFhQi8)8wt1gAdTGpTWl8WY=age of support from President Tsai Ing-wen, who said the marriage “brought joy to my heart”.
"I wish N9ESQ7!gqx0e-cVIYd$(CcpAxcORvm5clzWSCPVyLZ1K5hgP(othe both of you can respect, love, forgive, help each other and be united by love forever” she wrote in a letter to the pair.
But more importantly, for Ramy, Hsin-I and their guests, m%P7HMDf-mLPlo#xP19e)n=n^[email protected](gFc4A_n^)Gu1c+37yaYit 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 slEfeS)3x6hxYYfURtdzn_CHh#R&n_Bit#PR)rWtALry=)H3EA_ee it” Ramy explained.
“But, when people realize there is so much love in the room, it doesn’t matter if you'#kkxD1nLw6eogydYfSHC%AiHEG_OVUB38kv2R5CLTpYvj53qJare gay or straight”.