During four out of the six years that I have been photographing weddings, I have captured amazing couples unite together on the date of May 5th. This day seems to be one of the most ideal wedding dates to decide on! For Katie and Tuan, May 5th was one day they were preparing for with every effort they had!
Katie and Tuan will prove all the nay sayers of long distance relationships to be wrong. How wrong? Well- 7, 194 miles worth! Katie was at home close to Philadelphia for most of their engagement as Tuan was away on business…..in China! Tuan returned home with just two months of time to spare before the big day.
The majestic Great Wall of China was where Tuan asked Katie to become his wife and build a wonderful future together, but their story started in High School! The pair had been together ten years before this special time in their lives. Both of their families were overjoyed for this stage in their relationship. The amount of love and support they received on their wedding day was truly touching.
This memorable wedding day started with Katie getting ready at her parents home, and Tuan nearby at his parent’s home. When I arrived, Katie was dressed in her traditional and stunning red dress (Ao Dai) for their Vietnamese Tea Ceremony which happens prior to the day’s events. Once Tuan and his family members arrived to Katie’s family home in procession, the traditional Tea Ceremony’s blessings and feast began! The men in Tuan’s family and bridal party presented the gifts and food (roasted Pig included!) covered in traditional fabric to Katie’s family and bridal party. Katie’s mother escorted her downstairs to the Tea Ceremony as a symbol of giving the bride away. The parents and matriarchs from each side sat down as Katie and Tuan poured them Tea to celebrate two families becoming one.
As a wedding photographer, such unique traditions such as a Tea Ceremony give me a natural high. There are endless opportunities to capture really special moments and raw emotions in real time with just one chance to get it “right”. This is a time to approach my job in a hands-off, documentary style. I do not interject. I only capture the truth and story of what is happening.
The beauty of a cultural tradition and symbolically joining two different families is very rewarding. I enjoyed listening to the happiness in everyone’s voices as they presented gifts to the couple and blessed them with prayers for health, and children. I am always honored to be invited to such private moments on wedding days, and this day was no different. Celebrating a union of any and all cultures is simply beautiful and special.
After the Tea Ceremony, we traveled to Fishtown in Philadelphia where Katie got dressed into her American wedding gown. Having two amazing looks on your wedding day is extra fun! Tuan and Katie set aside a few moments to have private First Look once Katie did her bridal transformation. When planning their timeline together, Katie and Tuan let me know this moment would be very special and important to them. They were fans of my ability to capture moments with creative angles. They loved the photojournalism in wedding photography, and I knew with a city wedding that we would really be able to achieve the desired vibe with gorgeous texture to support it.
Why not add in pouring rain to your wedding day as your taking your photos outdoors? Katie and Tuan were so brave and happy to be together that even rain didn’t stop them from completely rocking their portraits!
The bridal party, bride and groom and two very soaking wet photographers dried off in time for the ceremony, officiated by Katie’s brother. Their ceremony was held at The Trinity Center for Urban Life – a truly stunning location with history of its original design dating back to 1874. Following the ceremony, everyone continued to La Colombe, where these two coffee lovers held their beautiful, intimate wedding reception.
Excitement, a romantic first dance, a few touching words during toasts and fun moments on the dance floor added to Katie and Tuan’s magical night!
Make up: Robin Lynette Top Flight Studios
Hair: Happily Ever After Hair
Bride’s Bouquet: RusticSweethearts
Rings: Marche’s Jewelers
Wedding Dress: The Sample Rack (Justin Alexander)
Bridesmaid dresses: Christina Wu
DJ: DJ Biggie Q
Photo Booth: Klass Act Photo Booths