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Who: Justin Park, 36, software developer. Sarah Park, 32, geriatric nurse.
Relationship status: Together since 2012.
From cheese to yes please
Sarah: I was on Plenty of Fish and I get this message saying, “I think I know you.” At first I was scared someone recognized me.
Justin: It actually said, “I think I know you. Aren’t you my wife?” It was a pick up line.
Sarah: I laughed. I was intrigued, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of meeting up with a total stranger. I’m from Dubai, so the dating rituals are pretty different.
Justin: We got to know each other online over a few months and then we finally met up for coffee. It was a Sunday. I remember thinking this must be going really well when she suggested grabbing dinner.
Sarah: I was hungry! I didn’t know the rules – first date drink, second date meal or whatever. We ended up talking all through dinner and then in his car until 2 a.m.
Justin: We had been dating for four years when I proposed. She had definitely dropped a few hints by that time.
Sarah: It was a year of hints.
Justin: I got a new camera and I said we should go out for a hike. It was great because I got the whole thing on tape.
Sarah: It’s not the best angle because I’m a lot shorter than him, so you can’t really see me. But at least we have the words.
Justin: We’re definitely different, not just in terms of our cultures and backgrounds. I’m an introvert and she’s an extrovert. It’s a good balance.
Sarah: I like to say I’m a talker and he’s a listener. It works.
Wedding day drama
Sarah: My father flew from Dubai to Calgary to attend our wedding and then the night before he decided he was not going to walk me down the aisle. He said if your husband is not going to convert to Islam, I can’t give you my blessing. I cried my eyes out, but then when I woke up on my wedding day I felt like a whole new person. My mother walked me down the aisle.
Justin: My family didn’t approve of me marrying a non-Korean. I was still pleading with my dad on the morning of. I was looking for him in the crowd and then when I saw Sarah coming down the aisle I refocused.
Sarah: Breaking from our parents was a big deal. We both grew up being very obedient. But I chose to be with the person I love – no regrets. Now that we’re raising our own daughter, we want her to experience both cultures.
Justin: We just did a 100-day celebration and got her all dressed up in the traditional Korean clothing.
Sarah: Our experience makes us appreciate how lucky we are to live in a country where relationships like ours are embraced. Getting my citizenship in 2015 was a very special day.
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