Getting married with BT
My wedding day, June 7th 2008, has been definitelty the most beautiful day of my life so far. Many people say that the most beautiful day of a person’s life is the day that you have your child born into this world. Well, I’m hoping that this second ‘most beautfil day of my life’ will not keep me waiting too long. Both my wife and I take this wish seriously, as we take any chance to enjoy the romantic surroundings of the beautiful resorts on our dream honeymoon. My ‘Sifu’ uncle told me that it makes you a real man, when you can take care of your family. Well, that’s one challenge I will not hide away from. So for me June 7th 2008 was a very beautiful the beginning of the next phase of my life where I will take care of my family.
Finding time to write on Orpheus Island
Although already 2,5 weeks have passed, it is only now that I have found time to write about my wedding day. Here on the secluded shores of Orpheus Island I find myself in front the calm waters of the bay, with the different Palm Islands in the horizon. There is a light breeze which makes the 25 C degrees feel like a fine early Summer Day. The Netherlands could only wish to have such weather as the average of our Summers. And right in front of me, about 1 km away in the sea I can see the pontoon on which BT and I disembarked upon today. Never have I imagined that the landing with a waterplan could be so much smoother than a normal landing. I wish I could always combine such relaxing surroundings while I’m writing my blogs. The pictures beneath will show you the view I have when writing this blog page.
Yes, I have dedicated a page to it as I want to often rethink the most beautiful day of my life.
A calm morning of preparations
The day itself started in all calmness around 07:15. My brother Hai had already woken up earlier as he had to get back to my parent’s home to be part of the preparations there. I showed no sign of nervosity, as I had been ready a long time to finally become BT’s husband. The morning started off on 4 locations: both our parents homes, Thu Ha’s appartment (BT’s sister) and my own appartment where I spent the night and would await my best men in the morning. Both BT and I chose not to spent the night at our parents place because there was just too much going with too many relatives from afar. I’m quite sure that BT and I were the most relaxed people that day, as all the stress was taken up by our friends and relatives who would ensure a smooth sailing throughout the whole day. The following thumbnails show parts of the morning and will lead you to different albums on Picasa and Facebook that have pictures of the presentations.
Getting my bride
My Rolls Royce Silver Cloud was ready to go, our treasures were packed, my Audi ‘Monster’ was washed and my people were dressed up and ready to go. It was time to go to BT’s home in Mijdrecht where I would meet my people and get the corsages from BT’s Uncle Xuyen. And while we were standing on the parking sapce of ‘De Meijert’, getting ready and checking if the receiving party was ready to receive us, we would see BT’s sister rush by in my Volkswagen Passat. Later we would learn that BT was in the car and ducked as she of course didn’t want to show herself yet. And upon the OK signal from the brides home we all took our cars and parked in the Patrijs street, as BT’s family had carefully already cleared out some parking spaces. From there my parents would lead me, my best men and my family into BT’s home where the ceremony of ‘getting the bride’ would take place.
Traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony at her home
The ‘tradtional’ ceremony is carried out in different ways by Vietnamese from different regions. But the common aspects of introducing both families, paying respects to ancestors, presenting ceremonial gifts (cookies, a rice dish, wine, and dowry), giving the bride away and some drinks. In the old days the dowry amount had to be a considerable sum, because the bride would be taken as a labor asset into the grooms home. Nowadays it’s more as symbolical amount that in our case was donated to the church that BT’s parents visit. And as for the drinks part, I think I’ve never started of Champaign that early as BT’s family broke out a couple of bottles of Piper Heidscheck.
When my mother accepts her new daughter
The more special part around the traditional ceremonies is the part where the mother of the groom would give her new daughter jewelry as welcoming presents. The jewelry usually includes a necklace and a pair of earings setted with diamonds. And it is also the grooms mother who would place and set the jewelry on her new daughter. This is commonly a very emotional moment as from that moment the bride is really part of the grooms family.
Off to my parents home to have the other ceremony
Now that I had successfully retrieved my bride, it was time to get her to my parental home. There another similar ceremony would take place to accept her into our family before our ancestors and relatives. At our family we chose to also have my father wear the traditional dress, in which he would also to perform the ceremony with a light influence of Buddhist traditions. Here we would spend more time in formally offering tea to relatives of both my mothers and fathers side.
Photoshoot on the grounds of Castle Heeswijk
At around noon BT and I had already passed the Vietnamese tradtional ceremonies and we would have already received many ‘big’ envelopes from our families. Then we were the first ones to head for the castle where we would have our photoshoot. The other guests would remain for lunch at my parents home, while many of BT’s younger relatives would be already present at Castle Heeswijk to help with decorational preparations. And my two best men Eduard and Koen would head off to the hotel to get a small nap, probably to make sure they would last till the end of the party (at least Eduard was man enough :p ). For the photoshoot BT and I would switch into our formal wedding outfits.
We’re ready to get married!
Around 1:15 PM I had slipped into my jacquet to make the jacquets complete as every man related to our direct families wore one that day. It was at the Castle where I would become speechless for over 10 minutes where I saw BT coming out in her wedding dress for the first time. No sensible words could leave my words as I was astonished by the beauty of my wife to be. Once recovered from my temporary parralisys the Castle proved to be a great surrounding for our wedding pictures. And while we were taking our pictures the first guests would arrive on the Castle grounds, having cut short their lunch at my parents home. Honestly we were actually a little bit annoyed by it, as no one was supposed to see us yet. To avoid the crowd our photographer Jeroen, who just was really great that day, navigated us away from the people towards the surrounding grounds of the Castle.
Around 2:45 PM we were finished with our photoshoot and smoothly slipped into our Rolls Royce to be taken away from the Castle. We would then take a small brake, before the big second part of the day would commence. At around 3:25 PM our Rolls Royce would re-enter Castle Heeswijk grounds through the Castle gate, driving around the circular square. It was here that everyone would see us get out and move towards the Knights Hall where the official marriage ceremony would take place. While I was going passed the bridge I could see that many new guests had arrived, our friends, my Componence crew and other (more distant) family. I was happy to see the joy and amazement in their eyes as they were clearly impressed by the whole setting of our wedding.
Where East meets West
As BT and I are very aware of the beauty in different cultures, we chose to combine the beauties of the elegant and rich Vietnamese culture with the sophisticated and distinguished aspects of the Western cultures. We had visualized the combination of traditional, slim, sexy Vietnamese ‘Ao dai’ for all the women with the classic and very distinguished jacquets for the men. And of course our choice for Castle Heeswijk, a choice we had made over a year before the wedding, put all the dresses and garments in a beautiful and impressing surrounding. The combination of the ancient Castle Heeswijk, the elegant and classic Rolls Royce, the modern and distinguised jacquets and BT’s wonderful designed italian wedding dress showed how beautiful and rich these combinations can work out. Even in the Vietnamese ‘Ao dai’ (pronounced as Aau yai) showed classic and modern variations in the chosen designs worn by BT’s sisters Thu Ha and Than Thuy.
The final ceremony
After our grand entrance it was time to move ourselves to the Knights Hall, where BT and I would get married. We had chosen to just have 1 ceremony, the official one for the law, to simply save time. Adding both a Christian and a Buddhist ceremony to that day would just have been impossible, as both ceremonies would take about 2 hours each. It was also a way to avoid issues between our backgrounds, that had caused problems in the early years of our relation. The ceremony was held in Dutch, while translations of the proceedings were handed out in English and Vietnamese. Our witnesses Yuk-Chi, Eduard and Koen gave 3 amazing speeches, causing my eyes to produce tears many times. The speeches showed our guests a good image of our persons and how BT and I were just meant to be together after these 11,5 years.
BT and I were treated really that day to some great words of our best friends. Many tears came from my eyes as great words of compassion, pride and reflection passed by. Along with it great laughs as different annekdotes of BT’s doubtful character and my naive attitude towards life in the early years of my study. BT and I were even treated with a surprise appearance of our dear friend Mykhaylo Lazor from Ukraine, allowing him to give a 20 second speech in Ukrainian. And at last Koen gave me my pair of Nikes that I had been waiting for 12 years now. I guess it took my karma these 12 years to get me what I had lost to that conman in my first year in Amsterdam.
At last the time came to exchange our vows and say ‘Ja’, which means ‘Yes’, to each other. Both BT and I didn’t really have the time in the last days to prepare decen vows. So we both kind of improvised with the snippets we already had in our minds. For me it was a very emotional moment as I vowed to always be there for her, as she is the most important in my life along with the still to have children. It was really our moment as it looked like no one else mattered at that moment. Of course there was the kiss after saying yes, but it was the ending that made the moment memorable.
Beautiful bubbles for the newly weds
After that it was time for some family greetings and the reception to start. A planning of all necessary pictures was made to ensure a efficient procedure, as we were afraid this part might produce some chaos and time delay. But luckily everything went fine, everyone was in place to take the necessary pictures and Jeroen our photographer was really marvelous in managing the people into the right positions. But before this all we were greeted with an amazing bubble show as we came out of Knight Hall.
Time for a break
While the photo shoot lasted, everyone was just having a good time. Drinks and snacks were all around. The taken pictures showed us that our guests were enjoying themselves. For me it was nice to see far friends again like Kumar from India and my favorite Kiev couple Slash & Julja. In the meanwhile the sun was shining and I could feel that the evening would just be great.
Around dinner time we had about 160 guests, 120 would go down to the ‘dungeons’ and 40 mates and spouses of Componence would get their own room. In the meanwhile I had already slipped into my third outfit of the evening, a modern custom suit.
It’s dinner time
For dinner we combined Asian and European dishes to ensure a nice blend of tastes and surprises. The whole setting was just amazing, you could just feel the warmth of Castle Heeswijk. The low, arched ceilings of the ‘dungeons’ just made everything cozier. The dinner spaces were divided into different spaces for young and old, making it possible for us to treat, speech and toast each group more appropriately.
And again, according to tradition, we would visit all our guests in our traditional garments to receive wishes and envelops 🙂
And the dinner ended on the Castle grounds again, where more guests arrived to have a piece of our wedding cake. And again BT and I had to change, for me it was the 5th and final time of that day. Usually it’s the bride that has to change dresses more often, in our case I had more outfits than BT.
Time to end the most beautiful day of my life
In the meanwhile the ‘dungeons’ were cleared and prepared for the party. Around 23:00 the party would start off with our first dance on ‘7 Seas’ of Babyface. The music and our Componence mates made sure that the atmosphere was great as they kept the dance floor occupied until the end …
And finally the party ended of with us rowing away in the love boat, a very fine ending of the most beautiful day of my life …