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He Said (I Do), She Said (I Do)

  • May 15, 2021

While marriage occasionally came up, Ms. Chen didn’t see it as a necessity. Mr. Cugini made clear that it was important to him, but wasn’t in a rush to persuade Ms. Chen otherwise. Finally, in the summer of 2017, Ms. Chen decided it made sense.

“We actually booked our venue before we officially got engaged,” she said. Ms. Chen had seen photos of a friend’s wedding at the San Francisco Zoo, and loved the idea of having a celebration there. She booked the venue more than two years before their planned April 12, 2020 wedding. That date, of course, didn’t come to pass. As the coronavirus swept the world, San Francisco instituted one of the first shelter-in-place orders in the United States. The two decided to postpone their wedding, along with a planned honeymoon to Australia.

On April 12, 2021, exactly 10 years after they first began dating, Ms. Chen and Mr. Cugini gathered at the San Francisco Zoo, as planned, with a group of 12 close friends and family members, all of whom were vaccinated or had quarantined beforehand. As they faced each other, in front of a panorama of grazing zebras, early evening light glowing behind them, they declared their love and commitment to each other with vows they wrote.

“Ten years later, you still make me feel such joy,” said Mr. Cugini, his voice breaking as he tried to hold back tears. Ms. Chen, luminous in a Casablanca Bridal wedding gown, reached out with a handkerchief to dab his eyes.

As they exchanged rings and came together for a kiss, cheers erupted from the small crowd. There was no debate that this love would last a lifetime.

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