Photo: Not only did Town Clerk Ellen Cushman conduct the ceremony, she took photos of the bride and groom.
For Kai Lin and Guang Shen, it felt like their love was fated.
Meeting online just about a year ago, Lin – a widow with an 11-year-old son – and Shen – divorced with an eight-year-old son –discovered their sons have the same name (11-year-old Brian and 8-year-old Bryan) and they shared an enduring love of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park.
Lin, a Belmontian with a doctorate from Penn who works as a director at Watertown’s Enanta Pharmaceuticals, and Shen, a Winchester resident currently obtaining her masters in special education from Lesley, love the theme park “because it’s where everything is magical,” said Lin.
And it was in Orlando, in front of Cinderella’s Castle, where Lin asked for Shen’s hand in marriage.
And like any good Disney love story, there was complication that needed to be over come by the hero.
“I wanted to propose on Christmas Day but the park was so full, we couldn’t get in. I had to ask her on Dec. 26,” said Lin.
While the engagement was in one of the most public of places, the couple decided the wedding would be a simple affair.
“We decided we wanted to get married as soon as possible so it would be small,” said Lin.
While searching online for a venue, he discovered that Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman had officiated ceremonies on Valentine’s in the past.
“We thought ‘what a great idea, to be married on Valentine’s Day’,” said Lin, who called Cushman who said despite the lateness of the request, she’d be happy to open Town Hall and perform the ceremony.
Lin and Shen are part of a growing trend in couples seeking to be married by the Belmont Town Clerk. Though Cushman only performs a small portion of Belmont’s total number of marriages, the number of couples who filed for marriage licenses in Belmont grew to 150 couples in 2015, up from what was a fairly static 115 annually for the past decade.
So on a “beautiful, sparkling day” – which happened to be the coldest day of the year – the happy couple, their boys and Lin’s parents ascended to the Selectmen’s Room on the second floor for their wedding. The groom looked sharp in a pressed suit while the bride wore a full-length silver embroidered gown that she got “off the rack” the day before.
Because of their shared affection for all things Disney, Cushman added a line from “Winnie the Pooh” in her message to the bride and groom.
“Piglet says, ‘Pooh, how do you spell ‘love’?’ and Pooh responds ‘You don’t spell it … you feel it’,” said Cushman.
With phone cameras recording the event and Lin’s mother making like an experienced paparazzi, the couple exchanged rings, vows and a few tears on their first day as a married couple.
After formal portraits and a banquet with family and friends, the couple and kids will settle into their Knowles Road home, as Cushman noted, “happily ever after, like a Disney movie.”