When I left England back in 2012 to embark on a teaching career in South Korea, I never expected that within two years I would be a married man. As someone who was single for most of his twenties, and who had not been on so much as a date in several years, I had no high hopes for finding love abroad. If anything, my mind was focused more on the experiences and adventures I would find there. As it turns out, though, I met the love of my life only a week after arriving in Korea, and she would shape and define my time there in incalculable ways.
At first, our relationship was pretty casual. We'd see each other one day during the weekend, maybe do some sightseeing in Seoul or visit the cinema. Then we'd be back to work and maybe not talk for a week. But it wasn't long before we were spending whole weekends together, and not much longer after that, skyping during weekday evenings. Then we made a habit of seeing each other every wednesday night after work, as well as at the weekends. Wednesday was our date night. The more time we spent together, and the more we talked and learned from one another, the more we realised we were falling in love.
After finishing the year's contract with my first school, I moved in with Angela and worked with her at her school. Now, we were closer than ever, seeing each other every day, and sharing a home. We'd been a little nervous about that. For all we knew, we might get bored of each other, or our living habits might conflict in a way that just wasn't viable in the long-term. But as with most huge steps we've taken together, we needn't have worried, for it only solidified our love for one another, and only strengthened our confidence that we belong together.
When we begun travelling together back in March of this year, that was also a significant milestone, for it meant that not only would we be together 24-7, we'd also have to deal with the stresses of travelling in Asia, with the heat, the dirt, not having a permanent base or home for month after month. If anything could test our relationship, this would be it. Once again, though, the reality only confirmed to us what an excellent team we are. Certainly there've been hiccups along the way. Sometimes when I'm riding a motorbike and I get us lost in the middle of nowhere, small arguments happen. But other than that, we gel perfectly as travel buddies, and never let the stressful moments blow up into anything more than a minor quarrel or disagreement.
Angela has blessed me in so many wonderful ways. It's not just that she makes me immeasurably happy, or that she makes me laugh, or that I can be myself with her in ways I've never experienced with a single other human being. She has also helped me find parts of myself I never knew existed. We always talk about how well we balance each other out. She helps me be more assertive, while I help her be more patient. She helps me be more sociable, while I help her be more calm. We are Yin to each other's Yang, and I've never been more confident or more happy with myself as I have been with her. We have been through so much together these last two years. We've lived together, worked together, travelled together, planned a wedding together, and though it hasn't always been easy, we've always fought through our obstacles with constant support, love, and respect for one another. Whenever we have disagreements, we always make an effort to see each other's perspective and try to amend our mistakes or flaws in any way we can.
These are just some of the many reasons that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. We've so often talked about growing old, having a family, a house, a dog, the whole lot, to the point that marriage soon became a simple question of when. Ultimately, given that we come from different countries, and given the visa issues involved with living in the same place, it seemed that the sooner we got married, the better. With that in mind, what better time to have a wedding than during our travels? Back in Singapore, we started thinking about where we'd like to do it. At first we considered India, but our research indicated there'd be a lot of complicated paperwork and red tape to get through in order to do it there. Then we thought about Bali. It was a lot simpler than India, but we knew it would have a similarly exotic beauty that would lend itself well to a wedding.
So, we started corresponding with Bali Weddings International, regularly emailing our coordinator, Luna, and organising the whole thing while we travelled. Though simpler than an Indian wedding, it still required us to get copies of our birth certificates sent to us while in Malaysia, fax credit card information to the wedding company to make a deposit, email passport and photograph scans, as well as arrange appointments with our embassies for certificates of no impediment to marriage. I wouldn't say the process was incredibly easy, but it also wasn't particularly difficult, and I'm sure it was a lot more simple and stress-free than most weddings are.
Eventually, after talking excitedly about it for weeks on end, after all the last-minute preparations and purchases, the day finally came: August 20th, 2014. Angela got her hair and makeup done in Kuta in the early afternoon, and we got a taxi back to Nusa Dua in time for our wedding at 4pm. It would take place at Kendi Kuning Restaurant, a beachside establishment owned by an Australian woman and her Balinese husband. Though we were nervous beforehand (Angela especially), the day went perfectly. It was a beautifully sunny day with a nice breeze coming off the ocean. Even though the ceremony itself only took around fifteen or twenty minutes, it was so much more climatic and emotional than either of us expected. Saying our vows to one another got us both a little teary-eyed, a rare occurrence for me.
After the ceremony, we went to the beach with Luna to take photos. We didn't hire a photographer as it was pretty expensive, and we hoped we might get some decent snaps with my point-and-shoot camera. We're so glad we made that decision, as the photos turned out wonderful. Angela brought some pictures of poses she wanted us to do, and Luna was more than a worthy photographer, spending over half an hour of her free time helping us get the immaculate shots that we wanted, which we were really grateful for. We couldn't be happier with how the day went.
Originally we planned to go partying in Kuta after the wedding, but after seeing how trashy that place was, we thought it better to relax in our hotel together with some bottles of wine. It was a beautiful evening that capped off a beautiful day, one we will cherish forever. We still hope to have a larger, more family-and-friends-oriented ceremony when we get back to the west, but for now, this smaller, intimate, backpacker wedding could not have been more magical.
|In our hotel room, getting ready to head to the beach for our wedding.|
|The ceremony begins.|
|We had a Protestant-Christian ceremony with a local Balinese priest.|
|Making our vows.|
|Saying a prayer and giving thanks for this great fortune.|
|"James, you may kiss your bride."|
|Signing the legal papers.|
|Just like that, the ceremony was finished, so we went with Luna to the beach and took some photos.|
|Happy with the shots we'd taken, we soon seated ourselves for a romantic dinner on the beach.|
|Our appetiser of samosas and garlic bread with some Sauvignon Blanc.|
|A delicious dinner during dusk.|
After this, we considered our remaining time in Bali (and the rest of the trip, really) as our honeymoon. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriot for several days in bliss, thanks to Angela's kind parents paying for our room there. We spent that time idling in the pool, going to the beach, and we also did a little bit of sightseeing across the island. More on that in the next post.