The Reporter (Vacaville)
LOVE'S IN THE AIR, `A SEED THAT HAS TO GROW'
Vallejo couple tie the knot to coincide around the Lunar New Year celebration in Asian cultures and Valentine's Day
The moon was waning, their love was not.
To show their love, which had been growing for several years, Vallejo residents Michael Damgaard and Yanping Li tied the knot Thursday during a simple, 15-minute civil ceremony in the Solano County Government Center in Fairfield.
Their vows came several days after the end of Lunar New Year, which Yanping traditionally celebrates, and five days before Valentine's Day, today, both of which, Damgaard said after the ceremony, was good timing and reasons to get married.
“To be married at this time of year means good luck,” said the Denmark native, 75, a retired intensive care unit nurse.
Clad respectively in a light gray suit and a navy blue dress, Damgaard and Yanping (first names in Chinese culture are last names) began their latest adventure, by turns happy and solemn, at 1:15 p.m. as they were led into a small hearing room, just off the center lobby's first floor, by Solano County Civil Marriage Commissioner Victor Rosano.
Once inside the hearing room, the couple stood next to each other, smiling warmly, held hands, then Rosano began reading from the prepared text for the first of his six weddings before 2:30 p.m.
“We are gathered here in the presence of family and friends to witness the marriage of Michael Damgaard and Yanping Li,” he intoned.
“A commitment to love each other for life is not to be entered into lightly,” Rosano said. “Love is truly the greatest gift we are given to share.
One does not fall in or out of love, one grows in love. Remember that love, loyalty, and understanding are the foundation for a happy and enduring
As he continued, the reading seemed to reflect well-known biblical passages that would give pause to anyone being married — and to anyone witnessing the ceremony — to consider the gravity, truth and quiet joy of the moment and words.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things,” added Rosano, who also serves as a collections officer in the County Clerk's Office. “Love never fails. No other human ties are more tender, no other vows more important than those you are about to assume.”
Then he asked Damgaard and Yanping, 57, a native of Tianjin, China, and the mother of a 30-year-old son, to hold hands and face one another. They recited the “do-you-take?” portions of the vows, to love and comfort each other in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, forsaking all others and being faithful.
The couple exchanged wedding bands, with Rosano noting the rings symbolize “the endless love and commitment you share with each other.”
“Always remember that love is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful; it is not impatient nor rude. Love does not insist on its own way,” he said.
Rosano, still reading from the prepared text, wished them well, saying, “May you encourage each other and always strive to fulfill your commitment with the same love and devotion to each other that you feel today. May you continue to love each other forever as husband and wife, remembering always to be each other's best friend. Wherever your lives may lead, remember to dedicate yourselves each day to one another.”
Immediately afterward, acknowledging his authority as a civil marriage commissioner, he pronounced them man and wife.
“You may kiss the bride,” said Rosano, and Damgaard and Yanping did so, sweetly, tenderly, and briefly.
Their ceremony was among hundreds since civil marriages resumed in August 2022, on Thursdays, in the government center, 675 Texas St.
Afterward, as newlyweds, they rode an elevator to the second-floor offices of the Solano County Assessor-Recorder, where they filed the paperwork for their marriage, making it official.
Downstairs once more in the center lobby, Damgaard, and Yanping, a masseuse who owned a deli in China before relocating to the U.S. 11 years ago, sat for a brief interview, as Damgaard spoke mostly for his new wife. She admitted her English was limited at best.
They met in Vallejo several years ago during the early days of the COVID pandemic, he said, adding that they started spending “a lot of time together,” then started living together, “keeping each other company.”
He recalled the time they met, suggesting it was as much an immediate match then as it was on their big day exchanging vows.
“We spent so much time together,” said Damgaard. “We never wanted to be apart. We decided to take care of each other for the rest of our lives.”
When they have time, they enjoy “walking around in nature,” said Damgaard, who owns a sailboat, docked in Emeryville, where they take trips into San Francisco Bay.
Their wedding night, he noted, would include a dinner at a restaurant in Yountville, in Napa County.
They wanted their ceremony to coincide around the Lunar New Year celebration in Asian cultures and Valentine's Day said Damgaard.
Their wedding vows, he noted, “reinforce that this is the beginning, not the end, a seed that has to grow.”