Jing Gao and Eddie Levine have both worked in e-commerce for more than a decade.
Eddie Levine and Jing Gao first met in 2016 at an e-commerce conference in Atlanta. Two years later, they shared their first kiss before 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 together under one roof.
So it was only logical that when it came time to tie the knot, they would turn to e-commerce for inspiration.
On August 21, the couple married in Chicago, and the wedding reception was filled with Amazonian paraphernalia. At the front desk, guests sat at tables marked with a 10-digit code that could be used to look up products on Amazon’s website (known as ASINs in seller jargon). Wedding favors were tiny Amazon packages, complete with barcodes and filled with goodies, that were placed in miniature shopping carts.
Wedding favors were boxes of treats that looked like miniature Prime packages.
Attendees posed for photos in front of a backdrop that announced “Jeddie (a combination of the couple’s first names) Prime Day,” a tribute to Amazon’s annual summer shopping bonanza.
Though the references were a little esoteric, the couple were at least sure some of their guests would understand.
Levine clinked glasses during the reception. “I said, ‘Finally, e-commerce brought us together. If we’ve met you directly or indirectly through e-commerce, stand up,” he said in an interview with CNBC.
“Literally half of our guests stood up.”
However, not everyone understood.
“The bartender said, ‘Can you tell me what all this Amazon-inspired stuff is about?'” said Robyn Johnson, CEO of digital marketing agency Marketplace Blueprint and a friend of the couple who attended the wedding.
Wedding guests were able to take photos against a Prime Day-inspired backdrop.
Both Levine and Gao have been 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 store that sells home decoration products.
Levine and Gao are part of an active community of sellers, consultants and service providers that has 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. According to research firm Marketplace Pulse, there were more than six million third-party sellers on the Amazon marketplace worldwide in 2021.
A “Five Hour Marriage Contract”
Gao met Levine at a conference in Atlanta through a consultant who was helping her with her Amazon business and who also happened to be Levine’s boyfriend.
They didn’t get it right away. But over the months that followed, Gao and Levine kept meeting up at e-commerce conferences and developing a friendship.
Their friendship turned romantic in June 2018 at Amazon’s third-party Boost conference in New Orleans. The conference coincided with Gao’s 29th birthday, so she invited Levine and some of her friends to New Orleans’ historic French Quarter for a night of bar hopping. That night they kissed for the first time.
On the last day of the conference, they took a long walk through the streets of New Orleans, a memory they both half-jokingly refer to as their “five-hour marriage contract.”
“We made contracts about where we will live, the family we will bring, the religion we will have in the household, education,” Gao said. “We lined it up.”
“Based on five hours of back and forth, we’ve determined that we’re 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 through June 2020. It was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and they could no longer safely board 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 in 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 would show our background and honor our origins.”
Levine, a Jew, chose Jeff Cohen, an Amazon employee who previously worked for Seller Labs, which held the conference they met, as a witness when they signed their marriage contract known as the ketubah. And guests who helped bring the pair together at Amazon events had special “Matchmaker” signs on the backs of their chairs.
They jokingly toyed with the idea of turning their wedding into a full blown Amazon conference, with a software company jokingly offering to sponsor the event.
“I said, ‘No, I’m not getting you a booth at our wedding,'” Levine said.