thank you gifts

October 28th, 2010

Taking a break from talking about the wedding day itself, I’m taking a side bar to talk about how we thanked some of our biggest helping hands. I love to give gifts, thoughtful ones for that matter and especially things that I would love to have myself. Six ladies who did so much for us/me were treated with kate spade cosmetic bags.

The 6 lucky ladies were:

  1. Steph – for the money box, handwriting our invites, and hand painting our seating chart board.
  2. Boumy – for the bridal shower sneak peeks and invites,  the candy station, and the wooden signs.
  3. Nancy – for stepping in last minute to work on the wooden road signs and leading the way with chopping wood for the candy station decor.
  4. Cindy – for the fabulous eyelash extensions!!
  5. Christine – for the fabulous hair-do and make-up for my bridal shower.
  6. Helen – for stepping in last minute to help with MC the day of the wedding.

I really wish I had picked up a 7th one for myself. These are a great size to hold all the cosmetics you typically need on a trip. I have ones that are a bit too small or too big–this one seemed just right. Kind of like Goldilocks, huh?

We also gave various thank you gifts to some of our other big supporters: Gwen Huyen for hair, Anha for make-up, Tuyen for hair, Frances & Anne for being my back-up dancers, Dan for choreographing the dance, Anne for booking/planning our honeymoon, and Hoang for providing the pre and after party location with food for the drunks. I’ve found that a word of sincere thanks goes a long way but a small gift that goes along with it goes even further to show your appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a big, flashy gift–something small does the trick.

And as you already know from previous posts, we thanked our wedding party for their hard work and support with various gifts as well.


  • bling, personalized flasks
  • See by Chloe personalized tote bags
  • Planet Flops flip-flops

These are very roomy and have a drawstring tie at the top.

These run small. If you typically wear a 6.5/7, you’d want to get a 7/8.


  • chrome, personalized flasks
  • “The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man” paperback book
  • Converse Jack Purcell John Varvatos Oxford Low Profile Leather sneakers

Got these off of Amazon. Rob wrote a note inside for each guy.

We had a ton of help from other friends and family that day, but the few that I want to specially call out here are Dennis and Thanh.

Dennis transported the slideshow equipment and was in charge of setting it up that day. He also helped with setting up the photobooth and printing of all the images for our guests to take home. He even had a flashlight to assist our guests with finding their image since it was quite dark that night and hard to spot on the table. He prob did a lot more that I do not know about. Thank you, Dennis!! You were a much needed helping hand that day that I did not fully anticipate needing. We appreciate you stepping in to help when things came up.

Thanh was a big sounding board for me throughout the whole planning process. He heard my rants, complaints, gave suggestions and helped with almost every aspect as far as brainstorming and strategics. He accompanied me to Michael’s so many times that he prob knows where everything is located in 3 different Michael’s stores. He even picked up and delivered food to my parents’ home early that morning for the tea ceremony. Of course he did a lot more that I have failed to list here but you get the gist of it–he was there to support us and was eager to lend a helping hand whenever needed. Thanks, TDANG! You were a huge help to us both!!

the church ceremony

October 22nd, 2010

We had a traditional Catholic ceremony at St. Callistus Catholic Church to consecrate our marriage and seal the deal for reals. During planning we tried to convince our parents to allow us have the Catholic ceremony on location at the reception venue but that wasn’t going to fly with the priest or our parents or my grandparents so we never got around to pushing the idea that far. We were just happy we got the reception venue we did get them to agree on…more on that in a later post!

St. Callistus is near and dear to us, especially to me. I practically grew up there my entire life. I was baptized, received my first communion, attended Catholic scouts & catechism courses there so naturally I should be married there as well. Robert’s family adopted this church as their own ever since they moved to Orange County back in the 80’s. Most of both our memories are of this church so we’re not too bummed we exchanged vows there.

It was really a beautiful late July day. We were expecting scorching hot weather but as most of you Southern Californians know, we never even had a real summer! We were blessed with mild weather and it was perfect in every way. We couldn’t have asked for more. Now, onto the ceremony itself!

I’m rushing into church as fast as I can before anyone can see or stop me. People did see, but they were unable to stop me.

Some decor shots at the church ceremony.

Arrangements all done by KC Floral Designs.

Song choices we took great care in choosing. Tweena played the piano and most the songs were sung in English, but there were a few that mixed both languages so beautifully. The youth choir for St. Callistus did an awesome job incorporating modern music in their own way to make our ceremony great. You can witness their talent at Sunday mass held at 5:30pm. You can also experience some clips on Youtube.

Processional was “Canon in D” instrumental.
My paternal grandparents and our mothers walk down the aisle.

I walked down the aisle to “I’m Your Angel” by Celine Dion.

Me and my dad embrace.

Our mothers light up the 2 candles as a symbol of how they gave us life.

Other songs sung at mass were:

  • Responsorial Psalm: “On Eagle’s Wings”
  • Offertory/Presentation of Gifts: “Only Hope” by Mandy Moore
  • Communion: “How Beautiful” (this is a great mix of Vietnamese and English–I highly recommend it!)
  • Recessional: “Wedding March” instrumental

Note that you also have the option to hire on a violinist to play with the pianist. We opted out of it.

We also chose our readings and the respective readers thoughtfully.

The first reading was read by my cousin, Sister Bernadette Huong. She read in Vietnamese: Tobit 8:4b-8. The second reading was read in English by our friend, Laura. It was Corinthians 12:31-13:8a. It was a classic reading of “love is patient, love is kind…”.

Our wedding party sat in the 2nd rows right behind us.

Father Tuyen read Mark 10:6-9 in both languages.
“…they are no longer two but one flesh.”

We were both pleasantly surprised with how much we loved Father Tuyen’s homily. He made it laugh out loud funny, thoughtful, interesting AND recited it in both languages in a very efficient manner.

We were even more happy with how he had us recite our vows. He knew every line by heart and was very attentive throughout our vows. Nothing distracted us from each other: there were no awkward pauses since he did not have to reference a book and he himself held out the mic for us to speak into instead of having a young altar server fumbling around up there.

Of course I couldn’t hold back my emotions and tears. We had to stop several times for me to carefully wipe away tears and snot.

Father handing me the ring to place on Robert’s finger.

We take the unity candles our mothers lit for us and light our single one together as a symbol of 2 becoming 1.

Father Tuyen was hilarious when he shot off a slew of apologies to my grandparents, my sister cousin, and our parents before allowing Robert to “kiss his wife”. And kiss we did!

Our friend, Judy, read the prayers of the faithful in both languages. Our mothers brought up the offertory gifts.

We continue on with regular mass proceedings.

Robert and I both receive the bread and blood of Christ. We drank out of the fancy goblet for the first time!

We close off the ceremony mass with Father giving us his blessings and our special prayer to Mother Mary to bless our marriage.


Hugs all around.

And of course, you can’t forget the family portrait at the end with both priests.

Photos courtesy of Kim Le Photography.

the tea ceremony

October 19th, 2010

Year in, year out; month in, month out I get to experience so many tea ceremonies and believe it or not they are all so different!! As generations pass every family has their own take on how it should go and what is included. From what I can tell, we should do away with calling it a ‘tea ceremony’ altogether b/c these days, most don’t even revolve around serving tea. Yeah, I didn’t serve any tea at mine but my parents were prepared to in case it came up. All we did was do family introductions, open gifts, give hugs, pray, eat, and go thru the motions. So glad it was nice and short, but also glad we did it for the sake of tradition.

The bride’s parents’ home has the VU QUY sign.

We decorated my parents’ vaulted ceilings with these paper lanterns all in our wedding colors. They were fairly cheap from

Rob’s family and groomsmen lined up across the street.

Apparently everything in these red packages (from the groom’s parents) are supposed to be enough to buy me from my family. There had better be some good stuff in there! j/k!

While planning out the tea ceremony we were super confused as to what goes into these red canisters. Tradition has it that if you did not have an engagement ceremony, you have to have 8 canisters the day of the wedding. If you did then only 6 is needed. We didn’t have an engagement ceremony so there had to be 8 canisters. Everything has to be given in even numbers since the families split the items in the end. To help you guys out, here’s a list of what went into each canister:

  1. Fruits (apples, oranges, mango, plums, pears and lychee)
  2. Cognac (2 bottles of Remy 1738 wrapped in red cellophane)
  3. A rented tea set
  4. Fake batch of a green fruit (symbolic)
  5. Wedding cakes (banh xu xe & cuoi) special ordered from Van’s Bakery.
  6. Rice cake (orange in color) also from Van’s Bakery.
  7. Jewelry, money & other gifts
  8. Jasmine tea (2  cans wrapped in red cellophane)

The hanging signs VU QUY and TAN HON, the red canisters, tea set, and fake green fruit were all rented from Thai Bridal & Florist. Cheapest prices in town! The lady there was very nice and helpful.

Roasted pig is a must. We got ours from Hao Vi BBQ. Just tell them the # of people you’re serving and they’ll suggest the size pig you need.

While everyone’s getting ready to parade in I’m busy gettin’ ready.

My family lined up out front. Do you spot baby Chloe and her Dora pillow? So cute!

The procession starts! Greetings at the door.

Family introductions are made.

Rob waits patiently for me.

I’m finally presented to the family.

Exchange of flowers from the groomsmen to the bridesmaids.
Usually the bridesmaids would also wear ao dai’s, but I opted out of that.

Gifts from Robert’s mother.

Gifts from my parents.

After a quick and light lunch we head back to Rob’s mother’s home where the sign says TAN HON.

We get to walk in together since we’re now ‘married’ in a sense. He’s bringing me to my new home and to my new family.

We say our prayers.

We give respect to our elders.

We’re super stoked to be married!

Can we be any happier?

What sort of gifts did I get exactly? Pictuerd below is a diamond bracelet from my parents (the square one). Diamond earrings from Robert’s mom.

Robert’s mom also got me this oval linked diamond bracelet which matches the earrings above and goes so well with my engagement ring diamond. Traditionally the groom’s mother would buy her new daughter-in-law earrings and a necklace but I opted for a bracelet. Not too big a fan of necklaces as I am of bracelets.

I’d say all those diamonds was enough to buy me into Rob’s family, don’t cha agree? hehehe…I kid. It’s all for tradition.

Photos courtesy of Kim Le Photography.

my pre-wedding beauty regimen

October 15th, 2010

So…on the day that I will be most photographed in my life, what sort of beauty regimen did I have in store to prepare to look my very best?

  • Braces for 6 weeks to correct the shifting of my teeth due to the lack of wearing a retainer. My orthodontist was Dr. Christopher H. Nguyen.
  • Crest white strips – Rob and I started this in late June so that we can have huge pearly whites that day. Purchased at Costco.
  • Gym! Rob went 4x a week for about 6 months while I worked out twice weekly.
  • Eyelash extensions done by Cindy Newell – they are so awesome and so hot. My dad commented that I had bunny eyes. hahaha!!
  • Manicure – the 1st time in my life getting acrylic nails done. They were pretty blinged out done by Robin at the David Douglas Salon & Spa in Tustin.
  • Pedicure – The bridesmaids and myself all had the same toe nail color in OPI’s Privacy Please. Done a couple days before at my favorite spot: Super Nail Tek.
  • Eyebrows waxed at Super Nail Tek done a couple days before the wedding.
  • Haircut (just a trim) so the curls can hold better by Gwen Huyen. This was done a few days before the wedding.
  • Facial for my face and back at Advance Beauty College. Do this at least 2 weeks before the big day! Never know if you’ll have a reaction.

Meet the lovely Robin who did my awesome nails!

You can see my crazy lashes in this shot. Do I look like a bunny?

Close-up shot of my champagne tipped colored nails.

Another angle of the nails. I was hesitant to get them at first but am so glad I did! Uses my real nails and all she does is give it volume with gel and a touch of bling at the tips. Very classy and natural looking.

Gwen introduced me to Robin and I’ve gotten my nails filled 3x already! From champagne to pink to red and probably purple tips next for Hawaii!

OPI nail color Privacy Please for our toes.

Here’s a quick snap of my niece, sister, and mom at the nail salon.

My awesome lash extensions! I went in for 2 sessions and there’s ~160 lashes added on to each eye. Very full! Cindy did a FANTASTIC job!

Another angle of the lashes. Since they’re on my own lashes it looks more natural.

For the white strips we used Crest’s Advanced Vivid.

Are our smiles nice and bright?

My curls stayed put all day with the help of a trim. Gwen did a great job!

I thought this post would help future brides plan ahead for their big day. I know I did quite a lot in preparation for it and only hoped someone around my area could share with me what they did and where they went for services to look their very best. Are you a bride or future bride? Share with me what you did or plan on doing to prepare!

Wedding day photos courtesy of Kim Le Photography.

the groom’s attire

October 11th, 2010

We’ve talked about all my outfits so its time for my husband to shine. He wore 1 outfit the entire day versus my outrageous 5! He didn’t want to have to worry about changing at all so one outfit suited him perfectly so his attention can be on enjoying the day. Yes, with just 1 outfit that means he opted not to wear the traditional ao dai as we were hoping he would earlier this year. I didn’t mind too much–it was his day too and I wanted him to be happy with what he wore.

Initially we had purchased Rob the same exact suit as the groomsmen. After doing so we realized any of the groomsmen could easily be mistaken for the groom so we went on an immediate search for another suit color that would go well with our theme and with the guys outfits. With just less than 2 months away we finally were able to put it altogether perfectly.

Suit from the Alfani Red line at Macy’s. They didn’t make a vest in the same color so we had to purchase the largest pair of pants we can find and had the vest custom tailored at Van Quan Tailor in the Asian Mall. Doesn’t he look quite handsome? I had tears in my eyes the first time I saw him in the entire outfit. Totally didn’t expect that!

French cuff shirt from Nordstrom
Silk tie from Bloomingdales
Silk pocket square from Macy’s
Tie and pocket square were chosen to match my ivory/champagne gown.

He had his initial at the tip of his tie like the rest of the groomsmen.

Cuff links from weddingchannel store. Engraved with T&R.

Shoes from Nordstrom – Savona Silvano Sassetti.
Argyle socks on the left from Banana Republic to match the groomsmen.
Flask socks on the right from Urban Outfitters to match the groomsmen.

Groom’s gift of a Brietling Navitimer World watch from NQ Jewellers.

I surprised Rob the morning of the wedding with the watch to remember me and our wedding day. He rarely ever wears it, but you can prob catch a glimpse of it when he wears it on special occasions and events.

side note: today we have been together for 161 months!

Photos courtesy of Kim Le Photography.