Jing Gao and Eddie Levine have been working in e-commerce for over a decade.
Eddie Levine and Jing Gao first met in 2016 at an Atlanta e-commerce conference. Two years later, they shared their first kiss outside of an Amazon seller summit in New Orleans. And in 2020, Gao left his home in Los Angeles and moved in with Levine in Chicago, bringing his e-commerce businesses under one roof.
So it made sense for them to turn to e-commerce for inspiration when it came to tying the knot.
On August 21, the couple married 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 search for products on Amazon’s website (known as an ASIN in merchant language). Wedding gifts were little Amazon packages packed with barcodes and treats, packed into miniature shopping carts.
The wedding presents were treat boxes that looked like miniature Prime packages.
Attendees posed for a photo in front of a backdrop that read “Jeddie (couples’ first names combined) Prime Day,” a tribute to Amazon’s annual summer shopping bonanza.
While the references were somewhat esoteric, at least the couple was confident that some of their guests would understand them.
Levine toasted during the reception. In an interview with CNBC, I said, “Finally, e-commerce brought us together. If we met you directly or indirectly as a result of e-commerce, stand up.”
“Literally half of our guests stood up.”
But not everyone understood.
Robyn Johnson, CEO of digital marketing agency Marketplace Blueprint and a friend of the couple who attended the wedding, said, “Bartender, ‘Can you tell me what the deal is with Amazon-inspired things?’ said.
Wedding guests can take photos against a Prime Day-inspired backdrop.
Both Levine and Gao have been working in e-commerce for over a decade. Levine is the president and co-founder of Hub Dub, which provides logistics services and helps brands manage their businesses online. Gao runs an Amazon business that sells home decor products.
Levine and Gao are part of an active community of sellers, consultants, and service providers emerging in Amazon’s third-party marketplace. Launched in 2000, the marketplace has now become the center of the dominant e-commerce business as it now accounts for more than half of online retail sales. According to research firm Marketplace Pulse, as of 2021, the Amazon marketplace had more than six million third-party sellers worldwide.
“Five hour marriage contract”
Gao met Levine at an Atlanta conference through a consultant who helped him with his Amazon business and was also a friend of Levine’s.
They didn’t hit right away. But in the months that followed, 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 he invited Levine and some friends over to a night bar in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. They kissed for the first time that night.
On the last day of the conference, they took a long walk through the streets of New Orleans, a memory that they both half-jokingly described as a “five-hour marriage contract.”
“We were contracting for where we would live, the family we would bring, the religion we would have at home, education,” Gao said. Said. “We were sorting it out.”
“Based on the five-hour back and forth, we found we were at least a good match,” Levine added.
A few days later, Levine flew from Chicago to Los Angeles for their first date. The next day, he returned to Chicago in time for a 10-day trip around Europe.
For the next two years, they continued to date long distance until June 2020. It was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and they could no longer safely hop on a plane for their two-week visit. They decided it was the right time to move in together, and Levine proposed to Gao that September in Niagara Falls.
It was Levine who came up with the idea for an Amazon-inspired wedding.
“We went over all these ideas, and they were pretty boring,” Levine said. “I wanted something that showcased our past and respected where we came from.”
Levine, who is Jewish, chose Jeff Cohen, an Amazon employee for Seller Labs, who hosted the conference they met earlier, as a witness when signing their prenuptial agreement, known as ketuba. There were special “matchmaker” signs on the backs of guests’ chairs that helped the couple connect at Amazon events.
They jokingly toyed with the idea of turning their wedding into a full-on Amazon conference, and a software company jokingly offered to sponsor the event.
“No, I’m not getting you a booth at our wedding,” I said to Levine.