Billy and Petrina walking back up the aisle right after they were officially married

Real Weddings: Petrina and Billy

Inside a charming greenhouse celebration with a bubble tea truck

As Told To Andrea Yu| Photography by Eric Cheng Photography
| November 2, 2023

Petrina Huang, a 28-year-old project manager at a bank, met Billy Chan, a 30-year-old web content specialist and Toronto Metropolitan University instructor, in 2011, when they were high schoolers working part-time as lifeguards at a community pool in Markham. The couple got engaged ten years later, in 2021, on a trip to Alberta, and were married in a Newmarket greenhouse with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and a late-night bubble tea truck. Here’s how the big day came together.


Billy and Petrins running down a garden path, holding hands

Billy: I first met Petrina in the summer of 2011. We were both lifeguards at the Milliken Mills Community Centre, in Markham. A few days into the season, Petrina and I were booked for a shift together. We locked eyes across the pool deck. It sounds cheesy, but it was a love-at-first-sight feeling. It was only five seconds, but it felt like five minutes.

Petrina: I was new to the pool at the time, and I’m pretty introverted and shy. I didn’t talk with the other staff much. But I remember that moment of eye contact with Billy. It instantly made me feel more comfortable. A few days later, Billy and I were on the same shift again, and we went to McDonald’s to get snacks, which was a tradition at the pool. We discovered that we were going to different high schools in Markham.

Billy and Petrina leaning on a wall together

Billy: We exchanged contact info and began chatting through MSN Messenger. I started hanging out at the pool in my free time just to see Petrina. The other lifeguards called us “pool rats” because we were there even when we weren’t working.

Petrina: Near the end of summer, Billy found out that I was volunteering at this children’s festival. He came to the event and stayed with me all day, making balloon animals at my booth.

Billy adjusting his suit jacket and wearing sunglasses

Billy: The squeaky noise that the balloons made was irking me the whole time, but I didn’t say anything. I just wanted to spend time with Petrina. A few days after that, I walked Petrina back to her car after her shift and tried to ask her out. I was so nervous that the words were getting jumbled. Petrina had to clarify whether I was asking her to be my girlfriend, which I was.

Petrina: I was so excited that he felt that way. I’d already been developing feelings for him for a while.

Billy: Petrina and I kept going on dates as the school year started. We’d go out to eat, to the movies, on hikes or just for quick walks. A lot of our dates ended with us getting bubble tea at Pacific Mall.

Petrine adjusts her earring on the day of her wedding

Petrina: We both continued living at home when we went to university. I went to the University of Toronto Scarborough and Billy studied at TMU.

Billy: The commute from my house to campus was quite long, so sometimes I’d stay overnight at Petrina’s family’s house, which was closer to my bus. Our parents didn’t want me to stay in her room, though, so I would bunk with Petrina’s brother.

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Petrina: In 2017, I won a contest that Chatime, one of our regular bubble tea spots, was holding. I got a free trip for two to Taiwan. I brought Billy, and we were able to extend our stay afterward to visit Hong Kong and Tokyo. It was a three-week trip, the first time we’d ever travelled together. That was a major learning experience. There were bits of friction here and there as we got used to it, but most of the time we really enjoyed exploring the world together.

Billy kissing Petrina on the cheek

Billy: A year after that, we moved into a condo in downtown Markham together. At the time, I was working as a production assistant at TMU’s school of media. Petrina was working as a project analyst at a bank.

Petrina: After we moved in, I asked Billy if he wanted to eventually get married. He told me that he saw marriage as just a ceremonial thing. He didn’t see the appeal since we’d already been together for so long. I didn’t love that response, but I could see where he was coming from.

Billy: Looking back at that moment, I think I was just nervous.

Billy and Petrina kissing in black and white

Petrina: In 2019, we bought a pre-construction house in Stouffville. We moved in February 2021, and I decided to broach the subject of marriage again. This time, I told him I’d found a custom jeweller and suggested we do a consultation with them, which Billy agreed to. I told the jeweller that I wanted a classic Tiffany-style engagement ring with a round, knife-edge diamond on a platinum band. Then Billy took it from there.

Billy: The design process was really fun, and it was clear how much joy it brought Petrina. It made me realize that I did want to take our relationship to the next level. The ring was ready by March, and I knew Petrina would be expecting a proposal soon. So, to throw her off, I booked two trips that summer: the first one was glamping near Algonquin, and the second one was to BC and Alberta. I vlog a lot, so I purposely took a lot of videos during the glamping trip to make her think I was going to propose. But I was really planning to do it during our second trip.

Billy and Petrina walking hand in hand

Billy: For that one, we flew into Vancouver and drove to Alberta. Toward the end of the trip, we visited Moraine Lake. I know Petrina doesn’t like big crowds, so I told her we’d head to the lake at dawn. She knows I’m big on golden hour photography. It was 6 a.m. when we arrived. We took some photos, and then I told Petrina I was setting up the camera in front of the lake for one last shot. I pretended we were taking a selfie, then I got down on one knee and asked her, “Will you marry me?”

Petrina: I was really shocked. I wasn’t expecting it because the trip was almost over. I figured it wasn’t going to happen. It was actually cold and windy that morning, but because it was just the two of us there, it was a really nice moment.

Billy: Then it was time to start planning, and the first step was finding a wedding venue. We had friends and family who’d gotten married at the Madison Greenhouse in Newmarket, so we booked a tour there and instantly loved it. We liked the glass walls and ceiling. If it was raining, we could stay dry but still get that outdoor feeling.

The charming garden where the ceremony took place

Petrina: We kept the guest list between 80 and 90 people, just close family and friends. Because of the venue, we decided on a relaxed garden theme. We kept the colour palette light with gold and white accents. We wanted it to feel classic and quaint.

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Billy: I knew I wanted a black tuxedo. I went to Indochino, and the tailor there really took the time to make sure we got the fit I was looking for. I was stoked about how it turned out.

Petrina: I’d done a princess-style ball gown for my prom dress, so I didn’t want to do that again. I was hoping for something more form-fitting. My sister, my mom and I went to a few shops, and I ended up finding a mermaid-style dress that I loved. It has lace at the top with a V-neckline, a low back and crêpe fabric at the bottom. I felt so confident when I put it on.

Petrina in her wedding dress, which includes a long train

Billy: On the big day, we split up to get ready. Petrina’s brother lives a few houses over from us, so Petrina and her bridesmaids got ready in our home while me and the boys got ready at her brother’s house. It was super convenient and kept things simple.

Petrina: But, since we were just two doors away, we were worried about Billy seeing me accidentally. So we scheduled a limo service to pick up the boys separately, 15 minutes before the girls, so we wouldn’t cross paths. Then we had our first look once we got to the venue, in a garden by the greenhouse. We decided to exchange our vows privately during the first look instead of doing it in front of the altar. We wanted it to be an intimate, special moment for us.

Billy and Petrina exchanging their vows before the ceremony

Billy: It was a very emotional day—and I’m the crier in the couple. The tears came as soon as we did the first look. I was hoping the photographer wouldn’t catch me ugly crying, but he did.

Petrina: We held our ceremony in a room called the Ivy Chapel, which has a skylight and lots of ivy coming down from the ceiling. Everyone was surrounded by greenery and beautiful sunlight. I was actually really nervous, especially when I was waiting to walk down the aisle. But having my parents by my side and seeing Billy waiting for me brought me a lot of comfort. Eventually, it felt like it was just the two of us there.

Petrina walking down the aisle with her parents

Billy: I cried again when I saw Petrina walking down the aisle. It was a magical moment. Then, right after the wedding ceremony, we held a traditional Chinese tea ceremony to welcome each others’ families into our lives. We poured tea for our relatives to show them respect and gratitude and to receive blessings and gifts from them.

Billy and Petrina participating in a symbolic tea ceremony

Petrina: For the tea ceremony, I changed into a red silk qipao with a phoenix and a dragon embroidered on it in gold thread. I was grateful that we could honour our Chinese roots by incorporating the tea ceremony into our wedding. It also gives it a personal feel, since you’re exchanging words and well-wishes with your family directly.

Billy: After that, our reception was held in the Fig Room—unsurprisingly, there are fig trees growing there. It has these really pretty fairy lights and a dance floor in the middle.

The Fig room, where the couple had their reception

Petrina: We did a mash-up for our first dance. The first part was a slow dance to “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You” by George Benson, and then we did a hip-hop dance toLet Me Love You” by DJ Snake with Justin Bieber. The second part was a surprise to our guests, and it was special to us because we choreographed it together.

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Billy: I used to be a breakdancer when I was younger. When we were dating, I would go over to Petrina’s house and teach her brother how to breakdance. So there was a lot of history behind it. Then, for dinner, Petrina and I were seated at a sweetheart table that we put at the front of the room, and everyone else was at round tables in front of us.

Billy and Petrina whipping out some break dancing moves during their first dance

Petrina: We served a three-course meal: a seared salmon appetizer; a choice of beef tenderloin, chicken, salmon or tofu as a main; and tiramisu for dessert. We also wanted to make sure we had something special and fun after dinner, so we hired a Chatime food truck for the evening. It was a nice throwback to the early days of our relationship, when we’d always end up getting bubble tea.

Billy: We got to pick two options from their menu to serve at our wedding. We chose mango green tea and the Chatime signature milk tea, which are two crowd favourites.

Petrina: Since we’d won the trip to Taiwan all those years ago, they’d actually filmed a promotional video of us from that time. They played the video on a screen at the side of the food truck, so our faces were popping up as people ordered their bubble tea, which was cool.

Billy and Petrina cracking open a bubble tea from the Chatime tea truck

Billy: Once the dancing got started, the DJ played a mix of Top 50 hits, early 2000s songs and K-pop. Most of our friends and cousins stayed until we were kicked out of the venue at 2 a.m. Overall, the day was incredibly smooth. Everything went according to plan—there were no hiccups.

Billy and Petrina kissing on the dance floor while their friends hold sparklers above their heads

Petrina: It felt surreal. Everything happened perfectly.

Billy: Immediately after the wedding, I felt like Petrina and I had a closer bond, even though we’d already been together for 12 years.

Petrina: Being able to call each other husband and wife is something very special. I think it really does give us a stronger connection.

Billy and Petrina during their first dance
Cheat Sheet

Date: August 12, 2023 Venue: Madison Greenhouse Wedding planner: Impresario Events Photography: Eric Cheng Photography Officiant: Dream Weddings Officiants Florist: Queen Wedding Decor Catering: Feed Me Fine Foods Bubble tea truck: Chatime Cake: Just Temptations DJ: DJ HPang Bride’s hair and makeup: ArianaZ Makeup Bride’s dress: Superior Bridal Groom’s outfit: Indochino Rings: Kimberfire

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