The weather is getting warmer, summer is near, and it's peak wedding season.  Many couples have their wedding at a banquet hall.  Others have it outdoors at a park or the beach.  We had our wedding on a cruise ship on July 27, 2015.  We have nothing against a more traditional celebration, but we wanted to find something that was easy to plan, affordable, and where we can have our honeymoon all wrapped up in one package.  For couples who are planning their wedding, here are the pros and cons of tying the knot on a cruise:


- It saves big money.  After doing research with multiple major cruise lines, we found that they each had wedding packages at a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding.  As of today, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $32,641.  The total cost of our cruise wedding: $2,295. 

- It saves a lot of time.  Major cruise lines come with a wedding planner who will help you with the logistics so you spend significantly less time figuring out the venue, food, cake, photos, decorations, entertainment, flowers, and music.  It’s a lot easier to get all this done when you have a planner and it’s all already on the boat.  We had to fill out some forms to choose our cake, food, and music.  The most time we spent planning was landing on a final count of the guests and giving them information about the ceremony.  Total time spent planning: 1 week. 
Kayaking in Turks and Caicos for our honeymoon.
- You get a honeymoon and wedding in one.  Why celebrate for only a day that feels like a blur when you and your guests can take your time celebrating and relaxing for several days on the beach and a boat with entertainment, food, and games?  You also get an instant honeymoon and wedding in one with a cruise.  And if you just want to have your honeymoon privately, you have the option of having the wedding at the embarkation port, and then your guests can head home before the cruise sets sail.
- You’ll have amazing photos.  There are professional photographers on the ship who will offer a range of photo packages at a reasonable price.  The photographer will have your photos by the end of the trip, and there are several packages to choose from.  And you’ll get a chance to take photos that are hard to get anywhere else.  For example, we got photos together on the outside deck of the ship with New York City in the backdrop, which is a rare photo op.


- It’s a speed wedding - a really quick celebration.   For the cruise we went to, the ceremony was 15 minutes, followed by a one hour reception.  By the time we cut the chocolate almond joy cake (which was so delicious) and had a few bites, we had to do the final dance.  If having a one day wedding is a blur, this was a blink.  There were other packages to get a two hour celebration, but in general, a cruise wedding is a much more condensed version of the day long traditional celebration.  It felt a little bit like the Two Minute Date with Ted and Stella from How I Met Your Mother.

- Many of your friends and family won’t be able to attend.  As with any destination wedding, it is difficult to get your friends and family to travel and attend because of either the travel, cost, or time needed.  Most people can attend something for a day, but when you’re asking for several days of their time, there’s a very small chance that someone who is working full time or in school can attend.  If you have always dreamed of having a wedding where every friend or family member attended, then a more traditional wedding is a better choice.  Looking back, I think having more of our closest friends and family would have made the wedding a bit more memorable and fun, but as a compromise, we celebrated with a private reception with our friends when we got back home from the cruise.

- You (and your party) can be cruised out.  Our only regret about the cruise wedding was that we picked a cruise that was too long (9 days, 8 nights).  If we had to do it over, it would be a 4 day cruise, tops.  By day 5, people were starting to get a bit too stir crazy being in a boat, and the food (although delicious) and activities on the ship got repetitive.  There were too many days in sea and not enough days on shore (only 3 days).

In Conclusion

In the end, your wedding venue is a personal decision, and you want to make the choice that you’ll be happy with looking back.  Some people already have the perfect wedding in mind years in advance.  A wedding cruise is a great idea if you’re short on time planning, want to save some money, and are ok with not every family member and friend attending.  And if you go with a cruise wedding, I recommend contacting the ship at least 9 months in advance to get a spot, as many cruises only can do two weddings per day.
Our wedding dance started off slow, and we surprised our guests around the 2 minute mark with a little bit of the Thriller dance (which has a special meaning to us since I met Alena teaching her Thriller) and 'You're the One that I Want' from Grease. 
My brother-in-law, Bill, giving a funny, heartfelt Man of Honor Speech (we didn't have a Maid of Honor).  He starts his speech with: "I have never been married.  Probably a good thing."
This blog is a cross post of a post that I originally wrote for the Urban Dater, published March 22, 2016
“Stop looking and you’ll find the right person.  The right person will come to you.”
“Don’t worry about finding the right partner, it’ll just happen.”

How many of us have heard of this ‘advice’ at some point?  I have and found just the opposite to be true.

In my own love life, I was single during most of college (where there are singles everywhere), and was hoping to meet someone but was not actively looking, and guess what?  Love didn’t come knocking on my door.

On the other hand, when I started actively looking and making an effort to talk to more women post-college, I got more dates.  As I continued to date more, I improved my own life and got smarter about choosing the right person, and the quality of girls got better.  Through it all, I had to consistently take a chance, step out of my comfort zone, fail a bunch of times, learn from my mistakes, and try it all again – a little wiser and stronger each time.

When I was 27, many of my close friends were in relationships, and I decided it was time to focus seriously on finding a long term relationship.  After four years of dating where I dated 89 different girls and had 10 relationships, I found that I was finally getting closer to meeting the right person when:

- I made it a priority to go out and socialize several times a week and organize get togethers.

- I was efficiently and wisely looking, meaning that I would quickly filter out girls who weren’t looking for the same type of relationship, and didn’t have common values and interests, and move onto girls who were a match.

- I put myself in situations where I was doing something that made me happy (like running, teaching dance, or attending events where I was learning something or experiencing a new adventure), and where there were potential singles as well, so it was a win in that it was a worthwhile event even if I didn’t meet anyone.

- I asked out and dated a lot of different girls, had many failures and break ups, and learned more about what I really needed in a partner, what I definitely didn’t want, and what I could compromise – because it made me recognize, appreciate, and hold on to the right person when she did come along.

- I had my life together (my health was good, my career was going well, I had a friend or two around as wingmen, my family was taken care of), which made me more confident about my future and grateful for what I had, as well as less concerned about rejections.

When You Should Stop Looking (Temporarily)

There are times when you should take a break from dating, and those times are if:

• You’re looking desperately
• After a bad breakup
• If you have no idea what type of relationship you want, or
• If you need to take care of other life priorities (your health, your family, your job prospects, etc.).

Love doesn’t fall on your lap. The odds are rare to find someone single with the same interests and values, who doesn’t have any dealbreakers, who is attractive and thinks the same of you, and is interested in dating now. It is likely that one major thing will not be compatible, so if you’re single and want to be in a healthy, happy long-term relationship, know that it takes time and a lot of trial and error to find someone who is right for you.

I want to thank my friend Shannon, who blogs on parenting and outdoor living at We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So, for nominating Bao Meets Bagel for a Liebster Award!  The award is given to bloggers (that are typically newer or small-scale) by bloggers to recognize and promote each other’s writing. 

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

• Thank the blog that nominated you in a post on your blog.
• Answer the questions asked by the blog that nominated you.
• Nominate 5-11 other new bloggers.
• Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
• Notify all nominees via social media.

I must admit, I don’t follow many new or small-scale bloggers, so I'm opting out of the chain, but I will share a blog that I like at the bottom of this post.

Here are my answers to Shannon's questions:

1. What is your favorite topic to write about? (This may or may not be what you write about most often.)

My favorite topic to write about is the main topic of Bao Meets Bagel: dating and relationships.  It’s a universal and timeless topic.  I enjoy writing about each milestone – from the first conversation to the baby shower.  I’ve had quite a journey finding the love of my life, Alena, and growing in our relationship, and I want to share my experience to help others.  

2. What are your highest goals and aspirations as a writer?

My highest goal and aspiration as a writer is to make an impact with my writing.  My hope for Bao Meets Bagel is that it can serve as a tiny ripple of hope in guiding someone to a good relationship.  I also want to show through the blog something that mainstream media and Hollywood doesn’t show often - an Asian American guy in a romantic relationship.  It’s my own small contribution to defying the silly stereotype of Asians being seen as just smart but never in the romance department.  

At this time, I would like to finish putting all that I know and experienced on dating and relationships in Bao Meets Bagel, and spread the word as much as possible about the blog. There will be a day when I’ve done all that I could with it, and when that day comes, if it has helped, inspired, or entertained anyone, then I would have achieved my goal.

3. Do your family members read your writing? If so, what do they think of it?

Yes, my mother-in-law reads it!  She loves it.  Of course, my wife Alena enjoys it since she’s a main part of the story and contributes to the ideation.  My brother Anthony, niece Sara, and others in my family also read it.

4. What is your best travel story?

My best travel story is when I flew to Barcelona, Spain for one night with some friends while I was studying abroad in London to see one of my favorite bands, Queen, perform in concert.  It was an adventure from beginning to end. 

I was 20 years old.  Fate had it that the semester I studied abroad, Queen and Paul Rodgers decided to go on tour together. My friend Jeremy won the tickets off Ebay and we flew to Barcelona from London early in the morning.  Soon after getting out of the plane, things started falling apart.  I was hustled out of most of my Euros from some people in the street.  Feeling terrible, and without much money left except to buy some Sangria, Jeremy and I ended up walking for what seemed like hours to the Olympic stadium, tired and hungry. Queen showed up late, and we waited for 5 long hours, baking in the sun before they opened the doors.  Thankfully there was a random Asian Freddie Mercury impersonator there that warmed up the crowd for hours.  Finally, we got in the stadium, and since we had standing room tickets only, we rushed to the front, standing only a few feet from where guitar god Brian May was playing.  Queen played for almost 3 hours for what was the most amazing concert I’ve ever been to.  I sung along with tears of joy towards the end - the only concert where I teared up.  We ended up making it back to the hostel for about an hour of sleep.  We woke up early and downed a large pitcher of Sangria for breakfast with the only money we had left before leaving for the flight back to London. 

5. What is your favorite piece of writing OR what piece was the hardest to write?

Hmmm…it’s hard for me to pick one favorite piece of writing but one of my favorites is a 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' from Martin Luther King, Jr.  Articulate and persuasive, and still relevant today.
6. What is your favorite movie and do you believe it’s the best movie you’ve ever seen? (It may not be!)

My favorite movie is Rocky, not because it’s the best movie ever made, but because of the impact it had on my life.  Rocky was about an underdog fighter who against the odds goes the distance and finds love and self-respect, and the movie (or one of its sequels) always seemed to motivate and speak to me (like a good song or artist), whenever I find myself in a challenging situation.

7. What is the scariest thing you’ve ever voluntarily done?

Tandem skydiving for the first (and only) time with an instructor who barely spoke English, after eating ice cream and bunch of fries.  I was the last one off the plane, and waiting nervously while the plane was playing the Gotye song "Somebody that I Used to Know."  After the 40 second freefall, the instructor was trying to tell me that we're preparing for landing but I couldn't hear him from his thick accent and the wind.  I then felt my top two straps get loose, and suddenly I dropped like 6 inches from the original harness.  That was scary, especially since we were 1000 feet up still.  :)  But as we got closer to land, I understood that it was part of the landing.

8. Who is the biggest celebrity you have ever met?

Hillary Clinton.  At Costco.  Alena and I met her at Costco, where she was signing books. We waited for a few hours in line outside, and I spent a good amount of time thinking of what to say to her.  When we finally got to meet her, I was star struck and I don't know why or how I blurted this out, but I said: “Hello, I’m John and I work for the Department of Energy and this is Alena.”  She was very attentive though and a good listener, and said back, “Oh, great to meet you, John and Alena, and thank you for your service.” And then we were ushered on.  It was a blur.

9. What is your favorite children’s book?

I don’t have a favorite, but I like these classics: books by Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein.  Also, my mother in law bought Liam a book called Chu’s Day, which is a cute story that I'm sure I'll be reading a million times.

10. Where is your favorite place to have lived?

I’ll always love where I was born and raised, Brooklyn, NY, but I also love living in DC.  London is a close second if I had to live anywhere overseas.

11. What was the best part of your day yesterday?

The best part of my day was spending time with Alena and Liam at the park – and trying out that running stroller for the first time.  Stroller runs are tough!  Liam was having a blast, and I’m sure he felt like he was in an amusement park ride when going up and down hills.

And my recommended blog is:
Babaganosh by Kate

Many thanks again to Shannon!