A Weekend in Gonzales, LA

On February 27, 2016 Ashton Jong said "I do" to Jonah Lee.

The Trip

On Friday, February 26 I traveled with my sister to Gonzales, Louisiana to watch our cousin Ashton get married. She is the second of the Chow cousins to get married on my mother's side. The drive was a long nine hour drive from Austin because of a pile-up in Baton Rouge. The road trip consisted of flipping through radio stations, catching up on the other's life, trying to drink out of a gallon water container, and eating snack foods purchased at BUC-EE'S. 

The Arrival

Eventually, my sister and I arrived at the hotel where my parents and the rest of my cousins were staying. The hotel we stayed at was owned by Marriott, but it wasn't a Marriott. The hotel was very nice. I stayed in a room with my sister and grandmother whom we call Por Por. Por Por does not get out of the house much, so she was very impressed with the hotel room. For dinner, Por Por went with my Aunt Lillian and Uncle Leland, Ashton's parents, to the rehearsal dinner. My mom, dad, sister and I went to meet extended family on my father's side for dinner. We ate at a seafood restaurant called Sammy's. Since we were in Louisiana, I made it my mission to get crawfish at some point during the weekend. I got to have it that night. The waitress brought me 3lbs worth of crawfish. Somehow I was able to eat all of it. Normally, I don't eat much in one sitting. I am one of those people who spread out my eating patterns over the day. It was really good crawfish: spicy, cajun, and messy. Since I knew I wouldn't get crawfish again for a very long time, I subconsciously knew I needed to get my fill. The dinner allowed me to meet second and third cousins on my father's side. It's crazy to see how far families can extend out and how many cousins I have. After dinner, my family went back to the hotel and I quickly fell asleep on one of the most comfortable hotel beds I've ever slept on.

Before the Wedding

The next morning was wedding day. I woke up and got ready for an adventurous day. The wedding ceremony wasn't until 4:30pm, so I had most of the morning and afternoon to do what I wished. I met with my family and Chow cousins for breakfast in the lobby. In the hotels in Texas, there is generally always a waffle maker that will make the waffles in the shape of Texas. In this hotel there was a waffle maker, but instead of a Texas shaped waffle, I got a waffle with a Fleur de Lis in the center. I still like the Texas shaped waffles more.

Since I had roughly five hours before needing to get ready for the wedding, I decided to go exploring. As a point of reference, I went to try and find a local coffee shop called Coffee House (not the most creative name). Somehow, my GPS decided to not work, and I ended up not finding the coffee shop. I drove around some back streets of the country side blasting country music as I went along. The whole moment felt so freeing. There were moments when I would pull over to the side and take some photos of the location and landscape.

After wondering around Louisiana for a few hours, I found my way back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding. Personally, I don't take long to get ready. I am fairly simple in that way. My hair is incredible fine and straight that I mostly always just leave it down or pulled back into a ponytail. I am also not very adventurous with makeup. Generally, when I am just getting dressed and ready it takes me less than 30 minutes. I am ready in no time, so I spend some time working on a few class assignments, reading the Tiger's Wife, and helping my sister, Por Por, and my mother get ready. I wore a dress I got for $15 at a local resale shop in Austin. It was laced long sleeve with a low cut back and in navy. That dress was a really good resale find.

The Wedding Celebration

The ceremony took place at a small Methodist church in town. The groom, Jonah, looked very handsome and his bride, Ashton, looked gorgeous. The ceremony was meant for close family and friends. Jonah's father is a pastor, so he officiated the wedding. This was a special moment for him to officiate his eldest son's wedding. Ashton wore a form fitting, slim, sleeveless dress that hung off her like silk drapes. There were beaded ornate designs on the dress. Jonah wore a classic black tusk with a red rose boutonniere and white bow tie. Luckily, we've had an unseasonable warm winter in the South: it was perfect for this occasion.

After Ashton and Jonah said their I do's and the family portraits were taken, everyone made their way to Houmas House where the reception was to take place. The Houmas House is an old plantation that has been saved and restored as a museum and historical site. It can also be rented out for events. The land is incredible gorgeous. There were fountains, ponds, and flowers scattered throughout the property. Statues of animals and children were spread out; there was even a statue of Poseidon in one of the water features. There is one main historical house, and then a separate smaller house. In the main house, appetizers were being served, and gumbo was heating over a fire pit. Walking through the Houmas grounds and celebrating was like living in a Southern dream. The event coordinators even wore those large skirted southern belle dresses. There was a slight chill in the air as the sun set during the cocktail hour outside on the grounds. It wasn't too long before we were aloud into the reception hall for dinner and more celebrating.

The reception was a huge party. There was a photobooth that actually printed out photostrips for guests. The flowers were red and white roses and there were varying center pieces. Some tables had the flowers sitting on tall stands and flowing over like a waterfall. Others had the flowers inside hurricane vases filled with water and candles floating on top. On the table were bars of chocolate with "The Lees" on the wrapper and "Ashton & Jonah" on the chocolate inside. The food was buffet style and there was chicken, pork, beef and crawfish etouffe. Dinner was a very southern and hearty meal. The band was incredible. They played all the best songs. Normally, I don't like when a lot of slow songs are played during weddings. It usually forces a lot of people off the dance floor. The song list consisted of classic and recent favorites from the ballad of Don't Stop Believing to Uptown Funk. Ashton changed into a red, lace dress for the reception to honor our Chinese heritage and tradition. Ashton made sure to also have an open bar, top-shelf. Drinks you would not normally expect at a wedding, like vodka-coke, were bouncing around as people ate and danced. It was certainly a really great night. The party ended at 9:30pm with the guests lighting Ashton and Jonah's walkway with sparklers. A courteous measure was made with a shuttle bus available for those too drunk to drive back to their homes. I think that was incredibly smart and kind of either my cousin or the Houmas House for making the ride available. I drove with my parents, so we all headed back to the hotel to rest up before the long drive back home in the morning.

Saying Goodbye

The next morning my sister and I woke up early to pack up and hit the road. Both of us had homework and things to work on before classes started the next day. After packing up, we met with our parents and some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins for breakfast in the lobby. We talked about the wedding and reception, reminiscing about the night before. Our stomachs were full enough, and then my sister and I headed out to make the seven hour drive to Austin. I will be back Louisiana.