We fell in love with this gorgeous bridal session from Kelli & Daniel Taylor Photography. Thank you so much to Thi for sharing about her dress shopping experience and Vietnamese wedding traditions with us.
My American wedding dress is a design by Reem Acra. I purchased it at Kelly’s Closet, a bridal boutique located in Atlanta, GA. I picked my Reem Acra dress because I felt really beautiful in it and it matched my personality. I loved the tulle skirt and delicate beading on the bodice and thought it looked very whimsical and etherial. The dress has a peachy/golden slip underneath that gives the dress an overall pinky tone that looked beautiful against my tan skin and a sweetheart neckline is always flattering. Kang, my husband, ended up loving it and thought it was beautiful as well. My headpiece is by Halo & Co which I ordered from Nordstrom’s. My tulle veil came from Etsy.
My Vietnamese gown (ao dai) was custom made in Vietnam. The ao dai (translated is long shirt) is the traditional Vietnamese formal attire. It consists of flowy flare legged pants underneath and a “long shirt” with with sleeves and a high Mandarin collar that fits over the pants with one panel of fabric in the front and one in the back. Traditional wedding ao dais are generally red and gold. Red is the color of marriage in most Asian cultures. Modern variations can show more skin, have short or long sleeves or have a one shoulder neckline. Mine is a more formal modern version with intricate lace and a tulle train for more drama. The hat is also part of the traditional dress but brides can opt to not wear the hat. It is made of rolls of the matching fabric and is VERY heavy!
There are ao dai stores in Vietnam and in the US (mostly in California and Atlanta). The stores are filled with rolls of elaborate fabrics that are specifically cut for ao dais. My cousin had visited Vietnam a few months before my wedding and along the way visited some stores with my measurements to try to have an ao dai made for me. On her last full day there she found a store in Saigon with lots of beautiful fabric and called me via Tango (a phone app) at 4 a.m. US time to have me pick out fabrics. To be honest, the visual on Tango was very fuzzy, so I wasn’t really clear on what the fabrics looked like but from what I could make out, I liked the one we ended up picking. She gave them my measurements and they made my whole ao dai and hat within a day! She picked it up the next day before she flew to the US. I’m amazed how fast they got it done and I loved the result!
Vietnamese weddings consist of a tea ceremony and is strongly centered on family. The bride is considered a gift to the groom’s family. The grooms whole direct and immediate family will come to the bride’s family home the morning of the wedding baring gifts. The bride and groom then stand in front of an altar and light incense and pray for good fortune in the marriage and request for the blessings of their ancestors. Family members then come up one by one and bless the the couple, toast with tea or wine, and give them monetary gifts. Parents of the bride and groom generally gift the bride with jewelry. The bride’s whole family travels back to the groom’s home to light incense in front of his ancestors followed by a formal dinner reception where guests are invited to eat, drink, and be merry.