Ashley Chiang planned to go to medical school after college, and was even accepted into an early-admissions program during her sophomore year at Princeton.
But then she realized that Roy Xiao, a classmate who also intended to go to medical school after college, had a passion for medicine that she just didn’t.
“I enjoyed watching ‘House,’ the doctoring TV show, and I was like, ‘It will be very interesting,’” she said. “But it’s not a very accurate representation of what it’s like to be a doctor. I hadn’t really put that together, and that’s not what should drive someone to be a doctor.”
The two had met on the first day of freshmen orientation at Princeton in 2010, and though they chatted a bit, in the ensuing months, he failed to get her attention. He’d wave at her when they encountered each other on campus, and she, oblivious to the gesture, would ignore him.
“The time that really stood out was on parents’ weekend, right outside my dorm,” he said. “I distinctly remember seeing her and her mom, and saying hi, and waving kind of sheepishly, and my mom was like, ‘Do you know who that is?’”
“I’m just very absent-minded when I’m moving about,” Ms. Chiang said.
By the spring of that first year, she was cognizant enough of his place in her social circle that she texted him when he didn’t show up at a big social event. (He was already away at a summer internship, so perhaps her tabs on him had only moderately improved.)
But at the beginning of their sophomore year, as Ms. Chiang was struggling in organic chemistry and wanted to do well so that her early application to medical school would be accepted, she learned that the young man she had been inadvertently ignoring was a whiz in the subject and was eager to tutor her.
“I noticed her more than she noticed me,” he said.
As the two spent more time together, they found that they had a love of food in common. They began watching “Top Chef” together and soon enough, around October 2011, the pair had a first kiss.
“I don’t remember kissing her — I remember her kissing me,” Dr. Xiao said.
“I wasn’t expecting a lot after making out with someone, because it’s college, and people do that,” Ms. Chiang said. “But not Roy. He’s like, ‘Would you be my girlfriend? Would you like to go on a date?’”
Thereafter, the two were a couple.
He went straight to medical school after college, at the Cleveland Clinic (he also received a master’s degree in biomedical investigation from Case Western Reserve University). Ms. Chiang went on to receive both an M.B.A. and a law degree from Yale.
Dr. Xiao, 29, is now a third-year surgical resident in otolaryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston. Ms. Chiang, also 29, is an associate in the Boston office of McKinsey & Company, the management consultancy.
They married Sept. 30 in Paoli, Pa., in a self-uniting ceremony at the childhood home of Ms. Chiang. The following day, they had a public ceremony, completely outdoors, at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, N.Y., where they walked down the aisle together and exchanged vows. About 85 people attended, all vaccinated against the coronavirus.
A crucial moment in their courtship also involved medical matters, but of a much more personal nature.
Ms. Chiang developed appendicitis while in her junior year of college, and as she awoke from surgery, groggy with anesthesia, she saw only her mother and started to cry.
“Her mom told me the first words out of her mouth were ‘Where’s Roy?’” Dr. Xiao said. “And that’s when I felt she was going to be family to me.”