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 temptiMkdM-1si=Imz3CsT(yJY^2g+0eSBbY0BXcCfNT!jx48E4dGRRBng fate by marrying during Ghost Month—a big no no in Taiwanese culture.
But, Hsin-I and his award-winning journalist fiancé were determined=BN)J^)#[email protected]@S9ImeBV9xo to wed in Taipei.
They wanted to celebrate Taiwan’s landmark Dc)H3lKdmjMh%iQpzGQJ$7we$QNrhj4V#[email protected]%move to recognize same-sex marriage earlier this year.
And, it was important for them to show solidarity with the Taiwanese people making waves for LGBTI rigKd%)x_ya6sjqEe8SMo9GR_A(sTKLa!M8wpNexyEF1_eqczF)w_hts 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 more complicated when they discovered Typhoo*VIrkq&mkrZ!84ohz-Z!Zay7vOg7mP!tN)Vyyfhp-1ZF)zD8BQn Lekima was also barreling towards the country.
More than 100 guests were scheduled to attend the wedding banquet at Taipei 101’s Ding Xian on the S%FJYQzlHkfnR_2eLs0wwyW=lK$08+GNNAovEysoj=tjB=RXceqaturday.
Force 9 winds also scuppered Ramy and Hsin-I’s meticulously planned day trip to Jiu Fen and the north coast for some of the more than 60 friends and family who had travelled to TaiI=N*g(yE&L--TOYn1!OS**XTe3v&l#XgN7QCAs*6oc1ViHUU-*wan from Singapore, the Philippines and New York to attend their wedding.
"There was a lot more stress and tension than we were expecting,” said Ramy. But, he sa^-xC2!xt3D$vb*_xri3nHUWy6x#_qS_T94dBbA_ssthkBuFgnqid “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"
A couple of years later, they had been talking about thPsskzSNYVrpC(GKW5q^6%YlOXzu2vMiOtfO38ff0hriXV*lxjZeir future together and the possibilities 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 Hsin-I grounded him and[email protected]%U1q8ZG7VMN-wePKfq 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 exp+Ww5&Ep8jkMd9x=T^=JUD!IXfC^@D)(H&O-A%-_uj3v0!_#[email protected]laining 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 the wedding for a day later.
Ramy did his part by keeping their guests entertained. “We didnMBFh*s7HAe8OhQ)[email protected]*%3t+jIH-sqnGeGsjs(NGf7Ov2’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 to the bad weather. Luckily Hsin-I and his family pulled some strings tos4oapXm(^Y81J1DNd&ojBIuZBIY*LcySSK+yB5MFq3bWSKB(n% 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 to the wedding might be a little “too closB8ImnKjRRRWw7+oDzj=eaLJq%qjVJ7Qao-Bc#Fu9hU+CQ3V+xZe for comfort”.
Ramy and Hisn-I said their visiting friends and family were super supportive of the last minute changes. They sent smiling se0d9wKfA=BE&5jPxGDYQZR%mv^w05XY^[email protected]*bN9lfies 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[email protected])$Zk#)[email protected]#WM_8#[email protected])s&irZMxZ the big day, the grooms’ respective parents walked their sons halfway down the aisle. The pair then walked the remaining way together.
There was also a mother’s dance to give them their time in the limelight. Ramy explained that having a same-sex wedding was liberating, as there was no rule book to follow on how the ce+L2!u_J)X#8jf2wsYrHav$PQtEQxT_yCcDU^Ighn3hI02-v!wHremony should be.
The pair opted for traditional Taiwanese banquet-style seating. But, the celebrat[email protected]@nyC_hdccUJ%uKjq#k(RXNiB8PxDV+-osoU)3-Mdv%aXVfTions started with cocktails. “Alcohol was very important for our guests” Ramy explained.
Hsin-I said his mother decided it was not a traditionI2k0YwEGz$!LjeH!IYYHDfaDOO*aJNYXeF4!=m4tzPE*gj(i%=al Taiwanese wedding.
The ceremony was also a celebration of acceptance. Ramy was not sure whether to invite conservative 3=Q_ZT(1cC&ow%[email protected])wxRL2Hfamily members from the Philippines and Singapore. But, he decided that if he didn't, he may regret it later. They all came.
Hsin-I’s mother told Ramy to no longer call her "Huang mama" but simply “Mama". Hsin-I’s godmother, who when they first met referred EUj8BwGS*YwY$PdKdUP2PbfhCoVJtoWpEnX^hpL4RbB)kX3Lzsto Ramy as “that person”, now calls him “My Ramy”.
Ramy’s uncle from the Philippines, meanwhile, made a point of personally welcoming Hsin-I to the familK90IL#[email protected]+9tA3JXT#HINlqhxO4sNzE54%y.
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 wedding was revolutionary in many ways. It was the first same-sex wedding at Ding Xian—_Rz98pBv-5beOOgjJsdsc#o7+(-&QIam_Oo6Kad=*TkRCmTz)6prompting some of the staff to join in the celebrations by taking photos.
But more importantly, for Ramy, Hsin-I and their guests, it was a celebration of ltw%AjIJra5Mu!^nqm^3zNjk72+s-a4t(5WMgxsHpcWoI+ZPF*!ove.
"For people who aren’t exposed to the LGBT community don’t always know how much love the6H=ycZ8V4!#N3s4^^0I9#JJvg$HDcO25OoTThQW&YmP936vSSere can be until they see it” Ramy explained.
“But, when people realize there ic([email protected]^wX&ECvkZyr_^qyy!7yZAjNPk&pjvGHmz!Mjs so much love in the room, it doesn’t matter if you're gay or straight”.