We haven’t even decided on the flowers.
Let’s face it, weddings are a daunting business. Women, in particular, are often raised to expect their wedding day to be like a fairy tale: the bride marrying her Prince, with all the trimmings. Wedding planners and other marketers supply an endless array of “must haves” for the big day. With the barrage of ideas and social media espousing the “perfect wedding”, couples are often stressed about how much to spend and what to spend it on.
As a result, arguably the most intimate part of the day: their ceremony, is almost an afterthought.
Does it have to be that way?
The answer is no.
Many couples I meet decide to marry in Vietnam because they have travelled here before and fell in love with the country and the Vietnamese people. They want to incorporate their wedding with an awesome holiday experience. Others decide on Vietnam because of its geographic location and ease of travel for friends and family. Some simply love the beaches. Some want to avoid the family politics knowing the people they really want at their wedding will make the effort to come. Some are marrying a second time and want a more relaxed and more stress-free day.
Others are renewing vows on a special milestone. One lucky couple had always dreamed of a beach wedding. They wed in Africa, though their best friends bought them a beach wedding in Vietnam for their honeymoon and 6 people enjoyed one of the funniest weddings I’ve been involved with. Every couple I meet has a different reason and each one complete unique to them.
There is one similarity, however. They all have wanderlust.
Just as each couple has a unique reason for celebrating their wedding in Vietnam, each ceremony I design with a couple starts as a blank page. The ceremony is arguably the most intimate part of the day. I take the responsibility of making it ”perfect” for the couple very seriously.
For couples located overseas, we take the time to chat so we can get to know each other, and I can get a feel for their story and the “flavour” of the ceremony. Some ceremonies take weeks to perfect and others take months. Many couples book destination weddings a year in advance and are often very focused on the event, so we craft the ceremony as time permits for the couple. We then meet on arrival and go through the final planning and a short run through at the venue.
I like to explore all available options, as opposed to offering a cookie cutter approach. Just as some couples have some fantastic ideas about their wedding, the planner should always offer alternatives the couple may not have considered, and I do the same.
There are no rules when it comes to the ceremony – length, vows, procession, poems, readings and all the stuff traditional ceremonies are typically like.
The couple can meet and mingle with guests when they arrive for the wedding. What? I hear you ask! No grand entrance?
If you don’t want to walk the aisle, no worries. Or you can walk hand in hand? In fact, you don’t even need an aisle. If it is a small gathering, we can all stand and enjoy the ceremony without the long processional.
Or get married on a boat!
If you’d like your friends or family to perform all or parts of the final ceremony, after it is finalised, go for it!
Five minute ceremony – no problems.
A ceremony incorporating cultural traditions is great fun where the couple has different heritages. It’s a great opportunity a traditional infusion with modern ideas (and a great way to keep all the relatives happy!). A ceremony I am working on at the moment incorporates some traditional Vietnamese traditions, with Indian traditions, including a bright and colourful garland ceremony.
Some couples do find the “outside the box” approach a little daunting, and in cases like that, I am also very happy to design a ceremony I think they might like, as a start, and build on it from there.
Your ceremony is not a competition to see who can have the most outrageous or unique. It is about you and what you want. Just as there is no pressure to have the most original ceremony in the world, it is nice to capture the essence of the couple as well as individuals. For some, it’s easier for me to guide them through a more typical ceremony and work with them to decide what works.
So my job is to help each couple get comfortable with the look and feel of their ceremony and be sure they are absolutely happy with it, whatever that may be.
It’s your day! Enjoy it! Do it the way you want to.
PS: Don’t forget to bring your swim-suit!
Photographer: Aaron Joel Santos.
Wedding Planner: Hoi An Events