Commitment Across Cultures: East Meets West at this Chinese-American Wedding in New York

College sweethearts Deanna and Kevin wed, merging American glamour with Chinese tradition.

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The couple share a kiss.

The Proposal

It took many rehearsals for Kevin Chen’s plan to seem super casual. “I joke and say that I proposed to two of my guy friends before I proposed to my now-wife, he says. “Third time’s the charm!”

When Deanna Seid visited New York in February 2018, the long-distanced pair strolled Brooklyn Bridge Park and Chen led her to a nearly 100-year-old carousel. Unbeknownst to Seid, their friends had blocked off other pedestrians and were milling about, pretending to be tourists and getting ready to snap photos.

“That’s when he got down on one knee. He made a speech, actually, but we both blacked out,” Seid laughs. The important part is—in the presence of their friends and some antique horses—she said yes.

Deanna and Kevin’s first dance.

The Ring

Pals had played a role in the selection of an engagement ring, as well. Chen enlisted one friend to “talk to her while they were having some wine, and get the lowdown on what she might like,” then found a jeweler, Citiwide Fine Jewelry Inc., through the recommendation of yet another buddy.

“I was chitchatting about what I might do during the proposal, and when the jeweler came out with the diamond, I couldn’t even finish my sentence,” he says of his visit to the jeweler. “I just knew that I’d found it.”

And he was right. “He went with a very classic style, which I really like. And the ring was so shiny!” Seid says of the round diamond solitaire. “He said it was the four Cs. He knows way more about diamonds than he probably wants to know, at this point!” she laughs. “He really took the time to learn all of it, to be sure he got something that was high-quality.”

The rings.
The couple chose the Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, NY.

The Dress Code

For their nuptials, the couple chose the Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, NY, a grand red-brick estate with imposing white pillars. “You walk in and it feels like you’re welcoming somebody into your home—a very fancy, baller home, but it still feels welcoming,” says Seid.

The official attire was formal (“Ours was a summer wedding, so didn’t want people to sweat” in black tie, says Seid). Seid donned a ballgown by Kenneth Winston with a beaded bodice and cascading skirt. “I definitely wanted whimsical, poofy layers that would flow when I walked,” she says of the vision. “It was kind of what 15-year-old me would imagine a wedding dress to be.”

Deanna and her bridesmaids.
Deanna and her bridesmaids share a celebratory drink.

The Ceremony

A mutual close friend flew in from San Francisco to officiate. “His goal was to make us cry,” she adds, and as the photos demonstrate, he was definitely successful.

Deanna and Kevin.
Deanna and Kevin surrounded by loved ones.
The couple cut into a wedding cake.

The Reception

Dinner was three courses, and the couple cut into a wedding cake topped with little figurines of themselves in their wedding looks, taking a selfie. Then came the dancing. They couldn’t decide between a band or DJ, so they went with both, and the latter played Maddie Wilson’s cover of “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman for their first dance.

The couple hitting the dance floor.
Deanna and Kevin.

The Tradition

Before the more western ceremony, Chen and Seid gathered a smaller group of their family members for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. “A tea ceremony is sort of a rite of passage in Chinese culture, [where] we kneel and we pour tea to our elders—our parents, uncles, and aunts, and so on and so forth,” Chen says. “After they drink it, they offer us wisdom or blessings or red envelopes.”

For the ritual, Seid wore a red kwa and accepted gifts of gold jewelry, and they poured a special tea Chen’s dad had chosen. “The tea ceremony is actually very important in traditional families and traditional Chinese culture,” Seid says, “so it was definitely something that we wanted to incorporate into our wedding.”

They gathered their family members for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

The Highlight

“That moment watching Deanna come down the aisle,” Chen says fondly. “That was one of many tearful moments for me that day.”

Seid remembers her own view, as she hid inside the venue waiting to emerge. “I was the only one not there yet, and just seeing the crowd of your family members and loved ones, the most important people in our lives,” she says, “it was really, really special. I keep that thought in my mind quite often.”

Deanna’s wedding dress.