Dr. Huchuan Xia and his partner, Erik Lorenz, put their makeshift nuptials into another gear.
Dr. Xia, who is known as Cedric, and Mr. Lorenz were married May 10 in a Quaker self-uniting ceremony in Philadelphia. The couple cycled a total of three hours across nine miles to seven outdoor locations around their adopted city that were both photogenic and personally meaningful to them.
At each of these locations — or stations, as they called it — the freewheeling couple were joined by one or two friends to celebrate in keeping with rules to avoid large crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.
“By deconstructing a traditional wedding, we performed one wedding ritual at each station, drawn from either the German or Chinese traditions,” said Dr. Xia, 29, a trainee in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in neuroscience. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis.
Dr. Xia was born in Sichuan, China, and raised in Shanghai; Mr. Lorenz, born and raised in Berlin.
At their first station, in Clark Park in West Philadelphia, Dr. Xia and Mr. Lorenz, 32, enjoyed their first dance, to a violin version of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” provided by a friend from Dr. Xia’s Ph.D. program.
They were soon back on their rented, Indego city bikes, the baskets in the front and rear of each decorated with tulips, lilies and chrysanthemum. As they headed to the second station on the University of Pennsylvania campus, the “Just Married” cans tied to the backs of each bike began making a ruckus to the delight of passers-by.h
Upon arrival in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue, the couple jumped across a simulated flame they constructed from tissue paper, a ritual from a traditional Chinese wedding, symbolizing the passion of a new marriage.
At the third station, the Promenade, near the Fairmount Water Works with a splendid view of the Boathouse Row, the couple sawed a small log into halves together, symbolizing marriage as teamwork.
They made their way to the fourth station, at the top of what Mr. Lorenz called “the Rocky steps,” made famous in the first “Rocky” film, starring Sylvester Stallone. Mr. Lorenz, a huge fan of the movies growing up in Berlin, chose that station as the place to exchange vows with Dr. Xia.
“We had family and friends watching our wedding via Zoom,” Mr. Lorenz said. “We learned that when we pushed our bikes to the top of the steps, and raised our arms in triumph like Rocky did in the movie, that many viewers, who likely interpreted that as the two of us celebrating our perseverance through Covid-19, started crying.”
The fifth station was the Love Park, situated under the big love sculpture of the City of Brotherly Love. There, the couple had to bite a dangling apple together, a popular wedding game in China.
The sixth station was at Independence Hall, where three pairs of friends lined up, at least six feet apart, and showered the newlyweds with rice.
When they arrived at the final station, the Race Street Pier by the Delaware River underneath the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the couple enjoyed a champagne toast and home-baked cake. There, two of their friends, Sage Rush and Barbara Terzic signed as witnesses on the couple’s Quaker marriage license.
“In a world of uncertainty, we knew one thing for sure,” Dr. Xia said. “We knew that we wanted to be each other’s partner in life, for life.”