Vietnam wedding stories: Polystyrene and spray paint don't mix.
Why do I know this? Because I thought I’d be a little creative. I sprayed spray paint on polystyrene and nearly burnt the house down!
You may recall from my last post, Tram persuaded me to help her pull her western wedding together. They chose a gorgeous venue on An Bang Beach, Vietnam and wanted a blue and white themed wedding. Their budget was tight and I agreed to help.
The wedding was on the famous Hoi An beach. The beach is stunning and stretches for miles. It is typically full of shells. As an avid walker, I decided to take a basket and collect shells each day for the wedding. Alas, last year, there were NO SHELLS. I looked for weeks. Can you have a beach wedding with no shells? We thought outside the box and came up with other ideas.
Apart from the almost daily sessions on messenger with James and Tram to actually create their amazing wedding ceremony, I spent many hours scouring the local markets looking for lanterns, decorations, fabric for table runners, florists and working with the graphic designer for the table placements and welcome board.
In fact, the small fee for the extra preparation was largely spent on food and drink at the venue, scoping the lighting for the time of the ceremony and how we could string lanterns over a 40 metre span without support in the middle (OK, I will admit, I don’t mind a cold beer and the setting was stunning). The polystyrene was a small creative aside - hastily abandoned!
The weeks leading to the wedding were a lot of fun. James and Tram were extremely accommodating, allowing me to work with freedom: – mantra, being, the wedding must be fun!
The biggest challenge was getting a huge arch and decorations, nearly 60 jars for flowers and table tops, 150 lanterns and lights and more candles than you could imagine to the venue.
In An Bang, instead of vans we have xe bo. A wooden trailer towed behind an old scooter. The man came and went from my house about 15 times to load up and he literally sat on the trailer to stop it all falling off. It is definitely a sight to see.
The wedding was spectacular. With the help of many friends the day before to hang the lights and help on the day to set up, it was amazing to see if all come together. I then had to rush home and get ready to put my celebrant hat on and wed the couple.
The ceremony was western, the speeches in line with western etiquette. There was the obligatory cake and registry book. The Vietnamese guests stayed until the end, which is very unusual as Vietnamese weddings are typically a two-hour affair with everyone leaving after the last course.
The next day was spent pulling everything down and calling on my trusted xe bo man again. We all forget about the time it takes to set up and pull down.
James and Tram, and the chicken had a ball.
For me? It was one of the most challenging, fun and rewarding experiences of my life (yes, I cried).
Again a tip for people getting married: pay for good help! There are experts here who can do everything for you so you can enjoy your holiday. Don’t question what they are doing, because they are spending more time than you can possibly imagine making your special day unique and as perfect as you.
PS: The shells are back this year.
The photo was taken this morning on An Bang Beach, Hoi An. Come and see them for yourself.