By Rebekah Lowe / Photography by Modern Wed
After eight whirlwind months of tastings, fittings, meetings and then a quick rehearsal to set it all in motion, Northern Virginia Magazine’s Dream Wedding Giveaway winners, Carol Nguyen and Nhi Tran, finally take the walk down the aisle to married life.
The couple opted to have a small Friday-night, American ceremony and banquet in lieu of their rehearsal dinner, followed by a traditional Vietnamese ceremony and extravagant reception on Saturday evening. We have all the details on the elegant weekend right here.
4:15 p.m., Friday
Oct. 12, 2012
Nine bright yellow balloons—one for each year Nguyen and Tran have spent together—billow in the breeze on the River Creek Country Club balcony overlooking the peaceful Potomac River. It’s finally time to tie the knot.
As Nguyen and the ladies primp and pose for photos in the bridal suite, the gentlemen of the wedding party sip some wine and straighten Tran’s tux near the bar. He can’t stop smiling.
With just 15 minutes to go before walking down the aisle, Nguyen opens her wedding gift from Tran: beautiful, strappy, metallic-nude Burberry stilettos. She hurriedly throws off her wedding shoes and replaces them with the gift, while re-reading her favorite part of Tran’s letter to her: “I will walk with you until the universe stops moving.”
Outside, about 20 guests file into a few long rows of chairs for the intimate affair. The bridesmaids, in their cheery yellow, one-shoulder dresses from Annalee’s Formals, take their strolls down the aisle, each with a groomsman arm-in-arm.
“Canon in D” plays softly in the background. The bride appears at the balcony’s French doors in a white, fit-and-flare gown with a shimmering, lacey bodice and sweetheart neckline from Leesburg Bridal. Nguyen is smiling as she walks down the aisle to meet her soon-to-be husband.
Nguyen and Tran read their sincere and personalized vows to each other, and both let a few tears of happiness fall as they do. Tran lightens the mood with a line that propels his wife-to-be—and their guests—into laughter: “You’re my spring roll, because you have brought spring into my life.”
The ceremony concludes with a white dove release at the altar. Each holding a dove to the sky, Nguyen and Tran let go and the birds fly away, symbolizing the joy their marriage will bring.
After a relaxed cocktail hour, guests gather around the U-shaped table in the River Creek Clubhouse. Toasts by close friends and family are interspersed throughout the three-course dinner of a spinach salad with dried fruit and pecan-encrusted goat cheese, a selection of juicy steak or moist salmon and a custard and berry tartlet to top off the night.
5:45 p.m., Saturday
Oct. 13, 2012
It’s time for round two of Nguyen and Tran’s wedding extravaganza.
A couple hundred white chairs flood the covered, open-air veranda at Harbour View. Behind an arched trellis, lined with autumnal red, yellow, peach and white flowers, is a picturesque setting of sailboats and fall foliage. The omitted wall allows a delicate breeze to gently float through the venue. A few stairs lead right onto the marina alongside the quiet Occoquan River. This truly is a wedding on the water’s edge.
Nguyen and Tran’s families take their places along the cobblestone walkway to prepare for their grand entry onto the veranda. They are dressed in brightly colored, traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai—long, flowing tunic-like gowns.
Tran and his family lead the way in, carrying 10 gift trays for the bride’s family and placing them on the table beside the trellis. The first gift is a roasted pig, followed by items such as fruit and jewelry. Nguyen’s family follows them onto the veranda, also bearing gifts for the groom’s family.
Both Nguyen and Tran’s fathers introduce their families, and then the bride and her bridesmaids come down the aisle to join the ceremony.
Nguyen is donning a red and gold elongated Ao Dai. Her long hair is in curls, loosely collected to one side, cascading over her shoulder and dotted with a few sparkling jewels. The bride and groom’s mothers place diamond earrings and a necklace on Nguyen, adding to her sparkle.
Guests watch as the couple’s parents take seats in front of the gift table. The bride and groom kneel down before them to hear their advice for a happy married life, and then they finish the tradition by sharing tea.
After the ceremony, Nguyen and Tran pose for photos under the trellis while cocktail hour gets underway upstairs.
The Gallery on Harbour View’s second floor displays an elaborate bar with an impressive pyramid of glasses on either side. Guests enjoy fruity cocktails and a never-ending collection of flavorful passed hors d’oeuvres from R&R Catering. There is plenty to go around. The spoonfuls of lobster with diced mango and avocado are a winner, and some guests take more than one as the experienced staff explains what’s in the delicious, bite-sized dish.
A short hallway leads to an extended cocktail hour area. In the Hutchinson Room, guests cluster around high-top tables, sipping their selections from the spreads of pre-poured margaritas and fine wines. In the center of the room sits a table overflowing with seasoned pita bread and creamy artichoke dip, as well as spears of veggies and platters of fruit.
As the chef puts the final touches on the night’s plated meals, over 300 guests spill into the Sewell’s Point Ballroom to take their seats. Nearly 40 round tables showcase delicately arranged centerpieces of yellow roses, white hydrangeas and peachy orchids. Elegant, gold draperies frame the wall of windows overlooking the river and complement the richly colored dishes and decor, right down to the red raspberry in each champagne glass.
After the guests settle in, Nguyen and Tran join the reception and the party can officially begin.
Guests delve into their first course of hearth-baked rolls with rosette butter and field greens tossed with baby shrimp, fresh raspberries and mango with a cilantro mint vinaigrette. The catering staff seamlessly flows around the tables, collecting dishes and quickly leaving the main course in their places. The duo entrée—tender London broil glazed with Teriyaki and grilled Atlantic salmon topped with a delectable charred tomato salsa—arrives hot, accompanied by sides of superbly cooked orzo with mushrooms and leeks, as well as asparagus with caramelized onions and roasted red peppers. The guests eat it right up.
Next, the couple’s family members make a few toasts before everyone dives into the cupcake tower, hosting an assortment of undeniable flavors like red velvet and apple cinnamon.
Nguyen and Tran cut a small cake planted at the peak of the cupcake tower. White fondant is draped over the cake and cinched on either side, and fresh white roses and a few yellow flowers dance on top. Big white beads of fondant outline the base of the cake. Tran pulls one bead off and throws it at an unsuspecting guest. Nguyen grabs a cupcake and smashes frosting in Tran’s face. The whole room is laughing.
Now all that’s left to do is dance the night away.
The Monster Band brings a classy-cool vibe to the party with popular covers like Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” The lead singer lets the guests have a little fun. She passes the mic off to a couple people on the dance floor to sing a few quick bars.
After the band’s set, the DJ takes over and finishes out the evening with some of-the-moment hits so Nguyen and Tran can celebrate the new chapter of their life with friends and family on the dance floor.