Wow, I am still on a high from the wedding and the last weekend of celebrating again with friends and family. I was talking to a friend the week before, and he told me that only two times in life do all your friends and family come together to celebrate you – your wedding and your funeral, and you don’t even get to witness the latter. It may sound a bit morbid, but it’s true. Andy and I are both forever grateful for all of you who took the time to send us notes, texts, cards, gifts, etc. and especially to those who made the effort to come to Austin to celebrate us. We hope you enjoyed the entire weekend because we sure did!
In the past two weeks, I’ve had the chance to sit quietly, meditate, and recall events from that incredible weekend. I was so present, I remember every aspect of the entire weekend, and so does Andy! I’ve also gotten to hear from many of our close friends on their take of the wedding, and it sheds a different point of view from mine, which is even more incredible to see it through the eyes of those who love us. The best part is that our wedding party has an email thread of all our favorite moments, and I read it on my first day back to work and laughed and cried to myself at my desk. In the few days before my 30th birthday, I have nothing but gratitude for exactly how my life has unfolded. Everything has happened at the exact time it should, and I am enjoying the ride. So before taking the next steps on life’s journey, here are my reflections from this past year of wedding bliss:
Andy and I set very clear intentions for our wedding: create a destination wedding to showcase Austin, be great hosts, let things flow organically, and make it feel like a big party. From welcome dinner/cocktails at the Park and Dirty 6th on Thursday; to the Greenbelt, Top Golf, and rehearsal dinner at Uncle Billy’s, then partying at J Black’s and Pop on Friday; to the wedding then the after party at the Market then the after-after party at the Groomsmen/Cousin house on Saturday; to breakfast tacos at Maria’s Taco Xpress on Sunday, we had a fulfilling and fun weekend. It was a whirlwind tour of Austin in just 3 days, but Andy’s dad later told me that he had never been part of a “destination wedding”, and this setting (at his alma mater!) was truly amazing because it enabled everyone to spend ample time together. He even told me that my parents and their friends stayed up late chatting and laughing with all of his friends at the hotel bar Friday night The best part is that we just put a few casual events out there, and people took it upon themselves to connect with new friends and explore the city together. It was our dream come true!
As for the wedding itself, we wanted to start off with the right tone, so we took a page out of Tung and Debbie’s wedding and decided to have everyone dance down the aisle; it was SO fun to see! Andy told me he had the chance to have a drink with and speak to all of his friends, and I got the chance to say hi to nearly every person. It was like hosting a Room to Read gala on steroids, and we cherished every minute of it. The venue flowed well, people were relaxed and hanging out in every nook, and they explored fun stations we placed throughout like the Love bench, the baby photos ladder, the dessert buffet, and the candy bar. Lastly, I’ve never seen so many people on the dance floor of a wedding. I loved our first dances, and the fact that none of them were planned. My dad first listened to the song 2 months before and we practiced for 20 minutes, and Andy heard the song for the first time that night! I couldn’t have asked for it to go better, we just fed off each other’s energy and never lost connection. It was amazing to see it all come together!
One thing I’ll touch on is that the wedding wasn’t perfect. There were several little moments that didn’t go as planned, but we relished all these moments of imperfection because we realize life doesn’t ever go as planned. Life isn’t perfect. You can either get hung up on it, or you can laugh it off and keep dancing! A few of those moments: my dog Terri biting my finger and it getting infected the weekend before; rehearsal dinner moving inside for possible rain; my veil falling off as I left the suite and catching a ride on the train of my dress down the aisle; thunder during the ceremony; David dropping the ring…”oh nooooo!” (granted, it sprang out of the box when he opened it); Andy’s tie arriving in the mail at 2pm on the day of the wedding via next day air only to have him lose it after tearing off his shirt during Ginuwine’s Pony; only getting to greet the 6 tables of our relatives and parents’ friends during dinner; our groomsmen in full suits almost passing out during the ceremony – fashion over function; crazy family portraits trying to herd 50+ people on each side; oh yeah and my wedding dress almost not zipping up – can’t wait to see those pictures! In the end, those things were nothing. The love and enthusiasm of the day overshadowed it all.
The main thing Andy and I discussed for months leading up to the wedding was presence, and we both actively planned ways to achieve this. For me, thai massage and yoga with the bridesmaids rooted me. Jonny and Mark patiently and gently maneuvered us and worked through our tension. My session was so thoughtful and that it moved me to tears. Emma led such a calming, playful, and inspiring class the morning of the wedding. She spoke to each of the bridesmaids’ traits individually and what they represent to me. It was incredibly touching and set the tone for the day. For Andy, all the groomsmen stepped up to run errands so he could sleep in and rest up for the big day; he has some incredible guys by his side. The most notable thing was that Andy and I got to share a private, raw moment before he saw me. We delivered notes to each other which we read a few hours before the wedding. Seeing Andy’s free-form thoughts and emotions come to life through his words moved me deeply. It was this loving energy and vibration that connected me to him before I ever physically saw him, and it kept us fully connected through the night. You can see it in the video of our first dance
The most surprising thing about our wedding was the impact it had on our friends and family. I knew it would be a highly emotional and deeply moving day for both Andy and I, but I couldn’t even fathom what it would mean to those closest to us. Afterwards, I received incredibly humbling feedback that I’ll share here anonymously:
“thank you for…the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than [myself]…This weekend has been life changing…and I saw a spark I haven’t seen in a long time. To be able to put forth [a ton of] heart and energy into celebrating you both…has meant the world…”
“Hi. You don’t know me but we have mutual friends who have liked your wedding videos and have showed up on my [Facebook] feed. Anyhow I happened to watch them and I couldn’t stop smiling watching you guys dance together- it truly is magical. I hope to continue to have the love that you two share- it just resonates so profoundly.”
Andy and his sister both burst into tears after we exited the ceremony, and it was the most beautiful image to witness them hold onto each other and let it all out.
Also both of our families kept telling us it was the best wedding they ever attended. These are the same people who were initially resistant to the idea and pushed for something completely different to take place in Houston. In the end, our mantra to “do what represents us” served us fully. We felt so validated in our long year of planning and effort when we saw the huge smiles on their faces that were still shining when we saw them again this past weekend.
To Emma, Mark, and Jonny, thank you for setting the tone of the weekend with your talents and gifts. Thank you to all my vendors who feel like family: The Peached Tortilla, Sweet Treets Bakery, Adore Make Up Boutique, Breathtaking Blooms, DJs EdgarJ and Mighty Mike of Sophisticated Funk, Openglass Studio, Tara Welch Photography, The Vista on Seward Hill, and our amazing coordinator, Sarah Randall. Special thanks to Vicky Dao and Mi Bui for their help setting up all the decor and to my dad and Maggie for your help in bringing my DIY ideas to life. To Liz for being my sounding board for the past year while we planned our weddings together. To Steven for walking my mom down the aisle, and to Christine for the truthful poem that moved me to tears. Big applause to Jon Le and Arnold Yzaguirre for your beautiful rendition of Ave Maria; you both melt hearts! Huge heartfelt thanks to Trandy for officiating our ceremony. Your words will be forever cherished by us both. Wow it really does take a village!
I wanted to send special thanks to the people that made this possible. To the Groomsmen: Andy is an incredible man, and he is a reflection of the men he chooses to surround himself with, each of you. Thanks for the huge smiles and eye contact throughout the ceremony, for dancing down the aisle with my girls, and for being great friends and brothers to me for over a decade. To the Bridesmaids: I can’t stop gushing about each of you. Thank you for standing for me always and for your laughter, tears, and prayers. I love how we held hands and spoke our hopes for the night before walking down the aisle and our harmonized singing of “shandy” to cap it all off. Thanks in advance for a lifetime of friendship. To the MOHs: With your powers combined, you really can do anything, and it’s incredible to watch. From the bridal shower to the bachelorette party to the amazing MOH(em) poem to being there for me for all of my life, I am who I am because of each of you. To my family: I’ll always be your little girl. Dad, you’re the first man I ever loved, and it’s no wonder I married a man of so few words but with such smooth moves on the dance floor. Mom, you’re my best friend and the cutest person I’ll ever know. Rich, you are my rock. Ong Ba (grandparents), I prayed for the past year that you’d make it to my wedding in Austin. You showed up with beautiful smiles and big hearts, walkers and all! To my new family: Dad, you now know what swagger means, and you have a ton of it. Mom, thank you for having faith and trust in us. Jennifer, you are the most amazing little sister that I’ve always wanted! Ba Noi, thank you being a part of our special day, it means the world to us. I am honored to be a part of your family. To my new cousins: After nearly 10 years, we finally pull of a complete reunion! Thank you for treating me like family from the start. I had gifts under the tree that first Christmas in 2002, and I knew I was in. Now it’s official, and sorry I belong to the non-drinking faction 😛 To all our friends and family from near and far (Pat from Singapore!), thank you for your presence and the time/effort/money it took for you to be there for us on our special day and all the days before that. The vibration of love was felt the entire weekend and long after and will always reside in our hearts. Thanks for getting turnt up every night, for inspiring Andy to rip his shirt off, for two-stepping, for attending all the events, for cheering us on, for nae nae-ing, and for being our constant support system.
Now that it’s over, I’ll admit, we’ve had withdrawals. Andy actually asked me, “What can we plan now, for fun?” The email thread of favorite moments helped. Re-reading our vows and the intention stones from our “guest book” helped. Celebrating again last weekend at Joe and Jessica’s wedding certainly helped. But now we get the opportunity to just be. I’ve never felt such joy sleeping in or sitting on the couch with my husband doing nothing – “il dolce far niente”. They say that marriage doesn’t really change anything, but now I know it does. Day to day, it’s the same, and we’ve gone back to the routines that ground us. But there’s this unspoken tenderness, this pulsating love, and this unwavering certainty in our purpose in life and our commitment to each other that is unmistakeable. Life is awe-inspiring; love is radiating.
What remains now are our vows. I was surprised and excited to see our opposite approaches. Whereas I’m obviously a writer and very verbose, I wrote 4 full drafts and opted for short, succinct bullet points that I could memorize and repeat daily as mantras. Andy on the other hand, wrote the most beautiful, eloquent words I have ever heard in my life. To Andy: 12 years in the making and still the rest of our lives lie ahead. Adventures await us! I love you more <3
- I vow to be speak truthfully and from the heart.
- I vow to be present and take in each moment.
- I vow to find gratitude daily and to live simply.
- I vow to respect you and to honor myself.
- I vow to always find ways to grow, mentally and spiritually.
- I vow to choose love over fear and to walk hand in hand as partners every day of our lives.
- I Andy Nguyen, take thee Sherrie Nguyen, to be my stunning and beautiful wife in front of God and all these witnesses.
- I vow to always put forth the effort to continuously grow and evolve our love for each other and for our family.
- I promise to connect every day. A hug, a kiss, or simply holding hands. Something to reaffirm our love every day.
- I vow to empower and support all your life goals and endeavors.
- I promise to hold you when you cry, and smile when you laugh. Be by your side when life doesn’t feel like life. And by your side when life feels like a dream.
- I vow to be the husband you need and deserve.
- Finally, adventures await us. I promise to live life with you to its fullest potential, free from fear and regret. Full of rich stories our children and grandchildren can pass on.
And the rest, is history <3