Ni Ni & Junkai Yang
October 12, 2017. Venice, Italy
A destination wedding in Venice couldn’t have been more apropos for Ni Ni and Junkai Yang, whose relationship has always involved traveling and exploring the world.
The two crossed paths during a time when Ni lived in Melbourne and Junkai worked in Shanghai. Rather serendipitously, however, both hail from the same town in Northern China, and met one night during a mutual friend’s dinner party. “My initial impression was that she was very quiet,” Junkai recalls. “We didn’t talk to each other too much during dinner.”
Despite the low level of conversation, Ni noticed Junkai throughout the evening. “He was very caring,” she remarks. “He booked the restaurant and took care of everyone at the table. During dinner, I recognized that he was very smart and intelligent.”
That unassuming first encounter led to Ni and Junkai spending time chatting via text, and discovering they had several commonalities. “We got to know each other, and he started to see a completely different version of me,” says Ni. “I went to Shanghai once to see him. After that, I quit my job in Melbourne and moved to Shanghai. It was a sacrifice, but it was worth it.”
Over the next two years, the couple traveled the globe together, visiting 20 different countries during their courtship. “You get to know each other a lot during that traveling time; it’s a different way to learn about a person,” Ni states.
Rather than culminating in an official proposal, those two years of globetrotting resulted in Ni and Junkai building a deep connection, as well as a mutual understanding that marriage would be in their future. “The most natural proposal is no proposal,” Junkai says. “We knew that we would marry each other.” With their unspoken engagement, the couple soon found themselves choosing a diamond ring from De Beers for the bride-to-be.
When it came time to plan the wedding, Ni had given up on the idea of hosting a destination wedding, quickly learning how complicated and time-consuming the process can be. Fortunately, after some online research, she came across Angel Lion Weddings and Events, and realized a wedding in Venice was more feasible than she had thought. Ni didn’t have too many details in mind, and loved what she found in Angel Lion’s body of work. “I saw so many Venetian-style weddings, which is a kind of wedding we never thought about before,” she describes. “We wanted a warm, simple, touching wedding with close friends and family, and we were inspired by our wedding planner.”
Five months later, the bride and groom flew to Europe with their 25 guests in tow. “We brought our family and guests to Italy five days before the wedding,” Ni explains. “We first went to Rome and Florence, because it was the first time some of them had been to Italy. We wanted to let them see the country, and it was really precious to spend time together before the big ceremony.”
Once the group made it to Venice, everyone was exhausted, yet filled with excitement for the wedding day. The bride walked down the aisle in a custom gown by Ersa Atelier, which suited her love of vintage fashion to perfection. With no prior wedding rehearsal, it was wonderfully overwhelming to take in each moment for the first time. “Everything was a surprise to us—from the decorations to the emotions of the day,” says the bride. Not one guest had a dry eye during the ceremony, which included a personal prayer from one of the bride’s closest friends, and a full choir that performed renditions of pop songs, including Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years.”
Afterwards, the newlyweds had a three-hour photo session with photographer Barbara Zanon before enjoying a relaxing reception with their guests. The ambiance was exactly what they had hoped for, as flowers and candles created a bright and inviting dinner space, and a mirrored tabletop reflected the hotel’s ornate ceiling. “When everything was done, it didn’t feel real,” the bridereflects. “It was more than a dream wedding to me; it was unforgettable.”
For their honeymoon, Junkai and Ni visited London and Paris—two of their favorite cities in Europe—as well as Tokyo and Kyoto to take in the autumnal beauty of Japan’s maple trees. “We have traveled a lot,” Ni says, “but my favorite part is that now I’m traveling with my husband instead of my boyfriend.”
> Written by Lauren Malamala