We got married! Well, sort of.

Well, sort of in a Vietnamese traditional tea ceremony kind of way.

It’s true, as of Saturday, December 14, 2013, Gerard and I are married. Technically. At least in our family eyes. That’s because last Saturday, Gerard and I had our Vietnamese engagement/tea ceremony.

Normally if you’re Vietnamese, you would have your tea ceremony on the morning of your wedding day. You can imagine how long and hectic that day would be so Gerard and I decided to pull forward our tea ceremony and combined it with our dam hoi (engagement ceremony). Neither family has done one before, so don’t quote me on the rules and the ways – we just wing’d it for the most part.

The day started off early for me with hair and makeup. Kudos to my HMU, Sinde Torres. She made me pretty.. hehe

G-prep

The dowry.

On the other side of town, Gerard got dressed while the family prepped all the red gift trays and offerings to bring to the Bride’s house – a dowry in a sense. And on this day, let’s see.. I was worth a total of 6 red trays filled with traditional offerings like tea and cookies, fresh fruit, sweet rice, Vietnamese jello and liquor, Hennessy XO to be exact. Oh, and let’s not forget the roasted suckling pig!

gifts-in-trays

Gerard’s family arrived at the Bride’s house at exactly 1pm. Here they are gathered outside the house. Aww, look at Gerard. Doesn’t he look dashing in his traditional ao dai man-dress? LOL

gifts-outside

Here they are at the front door, lined up in order of: The representatives (the couple to speak on behalf of the groom’s family), Gerard’s parents, his two older brothers carrying the roast pig, his cousin Son and the groomsmen carrying red trays, and finally, Gerard with the rest of his family and friends in tow.

gifts-outside2

The Bride’s family is suppose to grant permission for the groom’s family to enter. Once granted, my side came out to accept the gifts. The picture below shows the hand-off, with my two younger brothers accepting the roasted pig, my cousin and bridesmaids accepting the red trays.

There’s Gerard in the back, waiting patiently with a bouquet of flowers in hand for me.

mam-transfer

Once inside, it’s pretty straight forward. My father spoke for my side, welcoming our guests on this wonderful day and joyous occasion. Introductions all around before the representative for the groom ask permission to present the gifts in exchange for me, the Bride.

G-parents-setting

Meanwhile, I have been purposely stashed away upstairs, under the watchful eyes of six toddlers, while I impatiently wait for my mother to retrieve me. That is if my father accepts the all gifts.

Time flew by and not long after I hear my mother come up the stairs. She was just as nervous as I was motioning me to come forward.

“Ready?”

I nodded as she quickly warned me NOT to trip her on the way down. In fact, her exact words were,

“Every woman for themselves, don’t hold my hand until we get down the stairs. I don’t want to trip.” My mother everybody.. *applause*

I know what she means though, it’s really hard to walk in those traditional ao dai dress and not trip over the long MC Hammer trousers.

Here comes the Bride!

Q-stairs

My mother escorts me straight to my father.

I try not to look around – I knew my emotions would get the best of me. But then my father threw everyone for a loop and delivers a tear jerking speech. His hand nervously gripping mine as he spoke only to Gerard,

“I only have but one daughter. Only one. On this day, I pass her on to you. Take care of her, cherish her and love her as I do.”

q-daddy

My eyes begin to water as I look up and noticed, Gerard was too. Behind me, my bridesmaids, were all in tears. It was unexpected.

bouquet-handoff

Once my father handed me off, Gerard presented me a bouquet of flowers, which I must add, was put together the morning of by my beautiful bridesmaid Diep!

Candle ceremony & exchanging of the rings.

We begin the ceremony with the blessing and lighting of candles and incense as we pray to our ancestors.

g-dad-candle  incense bow

After the lighting of the incense, Gerard and I exchanged wedding rings.

ring-exchange

Jewelry for the Bride.

Next came jewelry for Bride. Mother wrapped the gold chain around my neck to complete my ao dai outfit and gave me a pair of earrings. My mother-in-law gave me a matching bracelet to go with my earrings.

Q-earings

Serving of tea.

Lastly, the ceremony concludes with the serving of tea to the parents, starting with the Brides. As we serve tea to our parents, red envelopes are usually given to the Bride and Groom, a small token to wish us a prosperous marriage.

tea-pour

tea-handoff  Q-tea-parents

My aunt whom my siblings and I also called mom, or Mami, is in every essence a mother to us. She gave the last speech. But in true Mami fashion, she burst into tears before she could even get a word out.

mummy

My father ended the ceremony by inviting our guests to help themselves to the feast which Mami labored over the last two days. She’s the chef of the family and her chicken coconut curry is the best!

GQ-shots

While guests helped themselves to a buffet of lobster, shrimp and fried rice, we took this opportunity to take lots and lots of photos.

Here we are with my family.

Q-family-shot

Here we are with Gerard’s family.

G-family

Gerard’s handsome groomsmen.

G-groomsmen

My beautiful bridesmaids!!

Q-girls

The day was every bit of a wedding – from my getting up at the butt crack of dawn for hair and makeup to my mother walking me down the aisle, I mean the stairs – it was a full on production.

Looking back, everyone asks why we would want to go through this. Our parents did not ask us to do it. No one in our family has done one before. It was a lot of work to pull off something we knew so little about. Imagine us flying blind, trying to rewrite the tradition. We were lost. I was stressed.

But to see our family come together, my girls in ao dai, Gerard in his ao dai, to see the looks on my parents face, made it all worth it.

We had a moment to ourselves to reflect on us. Needless to say my emotions got the best of me. This was nine years in the making..

G-Q-moment

As I watch the next generations grow right before our eyes, I hope that one day they can look back and ask, why did Auntie Q and Uncle Gerard wear those goofy dress and hat? To which I would proudly reply, it’s tradition, our culture. It’s who we are.

I wanted this for me, for us. And for our family and parents and the future generations to come.

looking-at-you

We’re married, b*tches!

To everyone who helped us put all this together, thank you! We couldn’t have done it without your tremendous love and support. A special shout out goes out to Andre for the fabulous fotos. You truly captured the essence of us and our special day. We couldn’t ask for more.

If photos aren’t enough for you, Q’s cousin recapped this event on video. Great effort since it was his first time ever recording video with his digicam, you’ll see what we’re talking about.

Watch this in HD.

Having done a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony got us thinking,

What’s a cultural wedding tradition of yours?

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  • Trangster The Gangster

    Beautiful!! Can’t wait to see more pics!

  • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

    Such a great story, thanks for sharing it! You both look great and it’s so neat to learn about your tradition! My family is Uruguayan but there is no big difference with western-style weddings, though they’re simpler. Will you also have a North American ceremony?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yup, a western wedding in March. Eeeek!! And so the planning continues.. lol.

  • RTWgirl.com

    Thank you for sharing this personal and beautiful day. Congrats!

  • Anglo Italian

    Congratulations to you both, you look absolutely stunning! A very different tradition and wedding we’re used to, thanks for sharing :)

  • SnarkyNomad

    I really like when people make use of their tradition outfits from ages and ages ago. Western styles are so universal that it’s nice to see people do something else. I think most of Asia does this, including south Asian countries like India, where they wear incredibly colorful outfits too. Seems more fun than a sterile, overly-planned Western wedding.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Definitely was fun playing dress up and seeing my girls all in ao dai. I do enjoy reading about weddings in Asia especially when you get to see the traditional outfits they wear. Wouldn’t minding wearing an Indian sari or a Japanese kimono myself. LOL.. thanks for the comment, cheers!

  • Shirlene & Jeremy from Idelish

    Beautiful tea ceremony guys! Absolutely love your outfits! Congratulations again and here’s to years of wonderful marriage between the two of ya!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks you guys! Do you have a similar tradition in Malaysia? And how’s life with baby Liam? Cheers to your good lookin’ family! :)

  • Lauren Nicholl ?

    Great photos! Thanks for sharing your experience – and traditions – with us. Congrats you too!

  • Beth

    Congratulations you guys! I think it’s great that you had a traditional ceremony. Even though I’m not Chinese, I still want to do their version of serving the tea at our wedding, since it’s Johnny’s culture. I think it’s important to embrace your culture :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yes, ours is very similar to the Chinese version. You should wear the dress – you’d look amazing in it!

  • Natalie Purbrick

    Y’all, I’m tearing up over here, congratulations! Kieu you look so beautiful. It would be a crime not to have these photos to share with generations of GQ babies to come!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Aww thanks Natalie. I teared up writing it, LOL. It was a fun day – can’t wait to share it with the future babies to come. ;)

  • http://www.solowayfarer.com/ Jules

    This is amazing! Thanks for sharing your culture. Congrats to you both. :)

  • Lazy Travelers

    congratulations, lovelies! the ceremony looks wonderful and kieu, you look so beautiful!! you too, gerard, in your ao dai :) LOVE YOU BOTH!

  • Nate @ HouseOfAnnie

    Beautiful! Reminds me of our own tea ceremony so many years ago…

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.thefitworldtraveler.com/ Mike

    Congratulations, It’s an interesting how different cultures have different customs. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen L K

    Very nice! I enjoyed reading about it!

  • camorose

    I love reading about Vietnamese traditions on your blog! I grew up in a community with a lot of Vietnamese families and I’ve traveled to Vietnam–and, of course, I love the food!!!–so it’s so cool to learn more about your background and traditions as a Vietnamese-American couple. Congratulations–you both looked so wonderful and so happy!!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Christine! We’ll work on throwing a couple of Viet posts out there just for you ;) Hopefully, you’ve found some good Vietnamese food out there in NYC — I know we had a hard time finding pho. LOL

  • Celeste

    Wow, you two sure have been busy! What a beautiful ceremony. It’s so much fun living vicariously through your adventures. Congratulations to a very special couple and Happy New Year too.

  • Nellie Huang

    Aww I love how you guys embraced traditions and chose to have this tea ceremony! Now I’m kinda regretting not having a traditional Chinese one.. Dang! Have a wonderful life together you two. ;) Congrats!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Nellie! It’s never too late to play dress up. ;) Do it as a vow renewal? Hehe

  • http://www.wanderingeducators.com/marketplace/apparel/do-mbt-shoes-really-work.html jessiev

    LOVE this! congrats!

  • http://www.travelfreak.net/ Jeremy Foster

    Guys, what a beautiful ceremony! CONGRATULATIONS! I’m so happy for the both of you, and I wish you a prosperous life together.

    I’ve just left Vietnam, which I fell deeply in love with, and I give a lot of credit to you two for reconnecting with your heritage and organizing the tea ceremony.

    And so many congratulations again! I hope to cross paths with you again in the future. xx

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Jeremy! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed Vietnam — hope you ate well too. Let us know if you’re headed to California! ;)

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  • Lace & Jurell

    we’re not on FB anymore, so gotta say it here.. but major CONGRATS! it looked like a fun celebration. so happy for you two! hope to see you around soon! -Lace & Jurell

  • http://www.adventurouskate.com Adventurous Kate

    This looks so cool! And you both look beautiful/handsome. It’s so special that you brought this tradition into your families and everyone was game. Congratulations!

  • BakoymaTravels

    Those are some gorgeous dresses, guys, especially Gerard’s ;-)

    Kidding aside, I particulalry love how you’ve made this your own. It’s tradition, and probably and ancient one, but looking at the picture it’s clear that this is all Gerard and Kieu. Looks amazing. Congratulations :-)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      I think my butt looked a little too big in my dress. =P

      • BakoymaTravels

        *lol*

        Seriously though, the whole ceremony looked awesome. Keep rockin’, guys ;-)

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    OMG this is so amazing! many congratulations to both of you! Love how unique our ceremony was

  • Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    Congratulations!!!! I hope the generations after you understand and appreciate the value of the traditions you followed on this great day! You guys looked great!!! Your father’s words were very moving. I once was one of the bearers of offerings at a Vietnamese wedding in Philly and every step of the “process” was fascinating even if at the moment I did not fully understand them.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Yeah. There were girls who didn’t understand Vietnamese that still got emotional at the ceremony.

  • Leah Travels

    LOVE this! It’s so wonderful seeing all of what happened on the Charles Bridge in Prague come to fruition. If your tea ceremony is this elaborate, I can’t wait to see the actual wedding.

  • TripsByLance

    I’m in awe of this story. You’ve opened my eyes to a special tradition that I had no clue about. What a beautiful bride and groom. Congrats to you both.

  • http://travelingted.com/ Traveling Ted

    You look so gorgeous Kieu and Gerard is styling too. Too bad you were not wearing these outfits on the street in Toronto, but it did not matter as I picked you out of a crowd anyway. Congratulations and what an amazing cool tradition.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Best random spotting in Canada ever!

  • Mary Anne Been

    congratulations. I love traditional ceremonies like this. Absolutely gorgeous.

  • http://www.theworldofdeej.com The World of Deej

    The only word I can think to describe this is simply…beautiful. The ceremony, the two of you, the tradition. All of it…just incredibly beautiful. Thanks for sharing…best part of my day so far.

  • lola

    I’m teary reading this! You both look amazing!! Congrats & I love you. Lola

  • Francesca

    I love these kinds of traditions! I think it’s important to carry them on, as well. Thanks for sharing your day with us; I definitely learned something new. Also, you look gorgeous!

  • The World Wanderer

    First and foremost, great choice as far as the day is concerned! (it’s my bday, haha) Second, this looks fantastic! I love traditions like this and learning about them. I had no idea that this existed, and I loved learning all about it and following along. Love the photos (and love you both!) xx Congrats!

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  • Paula

    Thank you so much for sharing this !

  • http://www.seriouslyspain.com/ Seriously Spain

    Wow, you both look amazing and look how awesome your families look :)

    Congratulations – (yes, I’m a bit late :)

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