LOVE STORY: DIANE CHAN & CHAI YEE WEI
When the celebrated Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet, “work is love made visible”, he was referring, of course, to the actual work that we do. But these very words, of all words, found their way to the surface our foamy thoughts while we pondered the shape-shifting nature of love — of the romantic variety, at once offering us the clear-blue sobriety we sought.
What is love? How do we know it exists if we can’t see it? How do we keep it alive? Does it — can it — last forever? If it does, how?
Fairytales and Hollywood have fed us a version of love that is all magic and happy endings. Like you, we, too, fancy the idea that love is the thing that exists in the space between the lovers’ eyes — invisible, but you know it’s there. In this version, love itself is the magic that makes it work. In reality though, work is the magic that makes it love.
Just ask Diane Chan and Chai Yee Wei, who, in October, celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary (“We had our wedding dinner on 10/10/10!”). When we met with the couple for this story, each revealed the “secret” to the success of their marriage.
For Diane, marketing director at Warner Bros. Pictures Singapore, “patience” and “acceptance” play important roles. “It is as much about staying together in good times as it is about overcoming challenges together through the bad times,” she said.
And for Yee Wei, a film director and producer, it’s about mutual respect, and being there for each other come what may.
Here, we ask both Diane and Yee Wei to take a walk down memory lane, and tell us their love story, as each of them remembers it.
“He had my favourite flowers — sunflowers — in one hand, and I knew in that moment, he was serious.”
How did you met?
Diane: We were introduced by my classmate from polytechnic who’s a mutual friend of ours. All of us work in the media industry, the intention of that introduction was to network.
Do you recall the moment when you knew you’ve fallen in love?
Diane: When I couldn’t stop caring about him even when he was at his most irritating!
What is one thing about him you especially love?
Diane: His trustworthiness.
How do you remember the marriage proposal?
Diane: He took me to a spot where he used to go to clear his head. It was a heartfelt proposal. He had my favourite flowers — sunflowers — in one hand, and I knew in that moment, he was serious.
What was going through your mind when he popped the question?
Diane: I was very touched. The proposal came at a bittersweet moment when we had both spent some time apart, and both of us had experienced our own emotional journey.
How would you describe the ring?
Diane: He proposed with a temporary ring actually, but it was the meaning behind it that really mattered to me then.
What does it mean, for you, to stay in love long after you’ve said “I do”. What do you think is the secret to a successful marriage?
Diane: I feel the definition of staying in love is different for everyone. For us, it is as much about staying together in good times as it is about overcoming challenges together through the bad times. This may sound totally cliché, but I think patience and acceptance are the tried-and-tested “open secret” to a successful marriage.
Complete the sentence: Love is…
Diane: To quote Pat Benatar, “love is a battlefield”.
“During the few months apart, I realised that she was the one I couldn’t live without.”
How did you meet?
Yee Wei: We met through an introduction by a common friend. It happened one afternoon 12 years ago in 2008, on September 24, at a restaurant at Holland Village called Fosters.
Can you recall the moment when you knew you’ve fallen in love?
Yee Wei: It was, ironically, when we had wanted to take a break from each other. During the few months apart, I realised that she was the one I couldn’t live without.
What is one thing about her that you especially love?
Yee Wei: I think it is the fact that she shares my sense of humor, which can be rather lame. And hey, if a woman can “humour” me even when the jokes are lame, then I’m sure that’s a happy relationship.
Can you tell us about the proposal?
Yee Wei: I bought a bouquet of flowers, sunflowers to be exact. I had them placed in the trunk of my car to hide them. It was not very romantic, but I know she likes sunflowers and daisies, and “happy” flowers.
How did it go? Do you remember what you were feeling
Yee Wei: It was rather funny. I didn’t have the ring ready yet, so I had a temporary make-shift one, which she understood. We were going through a difficult time, and I knew I needed to assure her that I was going to be here for good.
What was the actual ring-hunting journey like?
Yee Wei: I heard about The Canary Diamond Co from a friend, who told me that they do bespoke designs. Diane and I wanted something unique and understated, so the idea of being able to design our own rings really appealed to us.
What was the design process like?
Yee Wei: We had reference designs in mind, and we shared with The Canary Diamond team the styles we liked. A few weeks later, we went back to look at the proposed designs. We liked what we saw and that was it — smooth and easy.
What’s the secret to a happy, successful marriage for you?
Yee Wei: I think the secret is to make sure we always maintain our respect for each other, and to keep reminding ourselves that no matter what happens, we have each other.
Complete the sentence: Love is…
Yee Wei: To give and to receive.
Photography: Karman Tse for The Canary Diamond Co, using the Leica Q2