Eddie Levine and Jing Gao first met at an Atlanta e-commerce conference in 2016. Two years later, they shared their first kiss outside an Amazon seller summit in New Orleans. And in 2020, Gao left her home in Los Angeles to move in with Levine in Chicago, bringing their e-commerce businesses under one roof.
So it only made sense that when it came time to tie the knot, they turned to e-commerce for their inspiration.
On Aug. 21, the couple tied the knot in Chicago, and the wedding reception was filled with Amazon paraphernalia. At the reception, guests were seated at tables designated by a ten-digit code used to look up products on Amazon’s website (known as an ASIN in seller parlance). Wedding favors were tiny Amazon packages, complete with barcodes and filled with treats, placed in miniature shopping carts.
Attendees posed for photos in front of a backdrop declaring “Jeddie (a combination of the couples’ first names) Prime Day,” an homage to Amazon’s annual summer shopping bonanza.
Although the references were a little bit esoteric, at least the couple was confident that some of their guests would understand them.
Levine gave a toast during the reception. “I said, ‘Last but certainly not least, e-commerce brought us together. If we have met you as a result of e-commerce, directly or indirectly, stand up,” he told CNBC in an interview.
“Literally half of our guests stood up.”
Not everyone got it, though.
“The bartender was like, ‘Can you tell me what the deal is with all the Amazon-inspired stuff?,” said Robyn Johnson, CEO of digital marketing agency Marketplace Blueprint, and a friend of the couple who attended the wedding.
Both Levine and Gao have worked in e-commerce for more than a decade. Levine is president and co-founder of Hub Dub, which helps brands manage their businesses online and provides logistics services. Gao runs an Amazon business selling home décor products.
Levine and Gao are part of an active community of sellers, consultants and service providers that’s sprung up around Amazon’s third-party marketplace. Launched in 2000, the marketplace has become a centerpiece of its dominant e-commerce business, as it now accounts for more than half of online retail sales. As of 2021, there were more than six million third-party sellers worldwide on the Amazon marketplace, according to research firm Marketplace Pulse.
A “five-hour marriage contract”
Gao met Levine at an Atlanta conference through a consultant who was helping her with her Amazon business, and who also happened to be Levine’s friend.
They didn’t hit it off right away. But over the following months, Gao and Levine continued to run into each other on the e-commerce conference circuit and developed a friendship.
Their friendship turned romantic in June 2018 at Amazon’s Boost conference for third-party sellers in New Orleans. The conference coincided with Gao’s 29th birthday, so she invited Levine and some of their friends out for a night of barhopping in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. That night, they kissed for the first time.
On the last day of the conference, they went for a long walk through the streets of New Orleans, a memory they both half-jokingly describe as their “five-hour marriage contract.”
“We were contracting where we’re going to live, the family we’re going to bring, the religion we’re going to have in the household, education,” Gao said. “We were lining it up.”
“Based on five hours of back and forth, we found we were at least a decent match,” Levine added.
A few days later, Levine flew from Chicago to Los Angeles for their first date. He returned to Chicago the following day in time for a 10-day trip in Europe.
They continued dating long-distance for the next two years, until June 2020. It was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and they could no longer safely hop on a plane for their bi-weekly visits. They decided it was the right time to move in together, and Levine proposed to Gao at Niagara Falls that September.
Levine was the one who came up with the idea for an Amazon-inspired wedding.
“We went through all these ideas, and they were so boring,” Levine said. “I wanted something that showcased our background and gave homage to where we came from.”
Levine, who is Jewish, chose Jeff Cohen, an Amazon employee who previously worked for Seller Labs, which held the conference where they met, to serve as a witness when they signed their wedding contract, known as the ketubah. And guests who helped connect the couple at Amazon events had special “matchmaker” signs on the back of their chairs.
They jokingly toyed with the idea of turning their wedding into a full-blown Amazon conference, with a software company offering, in jest, to sponsor the event.
“I said, ‘No, I am not getting you a booth at our wedding,” Levine said.