A Spontaneous Post-Quarantine Family Lunch At JOLOKO, Kuala Lumpur
This couple’s love story has understated romance and spontaneity sprinkled throughout, right from the time they first met to how they decided to tie the knot! Because of Covid-19 and their being based in Singapore during the Circuit Breaker, they weathered 14 days of quarantine so they could come back to Malaysia just for their ROM! There was no theme, just a celebration of love and their two families coming together. With a cosy gathering of just 20 people, they toasted to their union as they embarked on the next chapter. This lovely set of photos was beautifully captured by Jasmine A. Photography.
“We had zero concept. All we knew was that we had a ROM appointment at JPN in the morning, and ideally we wanted to have a family lunch after that. We couldn’t plan anything until the Conditional MCO was lifted. We had lunch at JOLOKO a few days before our ROM. We thought that the restaurant was beautiful and the walnut hummus was delicious. It ticked two important boxes: ample sunlight and ground floor dining that was accessible for our elderly grandparents. We only had 10 people from Jia Jun’s side of the family, 10 people from my side of the family, yummy Afro-Caribbean food, a photographer and champagne!
“Family being family, they filled in the gaps. My aunt bought some flowers and put them into jars from home. She also ordered a cake from her downstairs neighbour. My grandmother found some old antique hairpins and did my hair on the day. Jia Jun’s parents came early in the morning and drove us to the ROM. My mum rushed me to a store a few days before the ROM after she heard that I was planning on wearing an old not-white dress, and picked out a new white one for me. As part of regulations, I couldn’t even try on the dress but it ended up fitting right! Maybe the only research I did was on Jasmine, our lovely photographer. She was my senior in high school and I admired her photography.”
Tips from the bride: “Be flexible! Getting married in 2020 is challenging but you are going to face other challenges in life too so use this first one together as practice! Communicate with your soon-to-be husband and make sure that it’s as much his ideal ROM or wedding as it is yours.”
How did you meet?
Melissa: “Here’s our love story. I met Jia Jun in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2017. I had just graduated from university and gotten a job outside Chicago. Using my first pay check, I bought a weekend plane ticket to D.C. to visit a close friend from university – Jhader, who is from Peru. I was so psyched! I had never been to D.C. before. Jhader promised to take me out to bars and show me the local night scene, but first we had to drop by a house party.
“What Jhader didn’t tell me was that it was a Latino party. And like all real friends, Jhader left me to fend for myself as he went to get us drinks. In a sea of people speaking Spanish, I found Jia Jun. We hit it off straightaway. We realised that we were both from Malaysia (he was from Kajang and I’m from PJ), we went to the same high school (he was three years my senior), we both did our degrees in the U.S. and ended up staying back to work after, and we had a ton of friends in common. Jia Jun and I talked for hours. At the end of the night, we exchanged numbers and said goodbye. I flew back to Chicago the next day.
“We texted a lot in the following days. Our dynamic was great but we lived halfway across the country from each other. The distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C. is similar to the distance between KL and Bangkok. We had limited opportunities to see each other again and our conversation petered out after a while.
“A few weeks later, Jia Jun texted me out of the blue asking if he could drop by Chicago after his work trip to Bangladesh. ‘Come to Chicago? Is it even on the way to Bangladesh?’, I texted back. It wasn’t, but he dropped by anyway for a few days before returning to D.C. We had such a good time that a few weeks later, we were looking for a way to see each other again. There were affordable tickets to Cuba at the time. ‘Hey, do you want to meet “halfway” in Cuba? Malaysians don’t need a visa!’ We spent a week there. That was our third date. People asked us if we were on our honeymoon.
“After a year of our long distance relationship between Chicago and D.C., my company relocated me to their Singapore office. What was already a challenging relationship became even more difficult with a 12-hour time difference. We did one year between Singapore and D.C. until Jia Jun got a transfer to his company’s Jakarta office. He was lucky enough to have a flexible schedule and spent half of his time working remotely from Singapore. We got a taste of living together from that.
“At the beginning of 2020, Covid-19 happened and the whole world came to a standstill. While we were in lockdown together in Singapore, Jia Jun applied and got into a few graduate school programs in the U.S. They gave him a full scholarship to enrol in Fall 2020. We were only six months into living together and now we were about to be separated again? We deliberated our options. We had never discussed marriage before and no one wanted to be the first to bring it up. We skirted around for weeks and researched other options.
“We were sitting on our couch when he said, ‘Hey, what if we get married and move to the US together?’ We looked at each other and laughed. That’s how it went! There was no proposal, flowers or rings. Just an honest and practical conversation.”