There’s nothing better than an enthusiastic, excited bride! With all of the planning and detail work, it can be easy to lose sight of the light. The wedding day is supposed to be about love, laughter, and all of those once-in-a-lifetime feelings. Tina & Jonathan have always had an infectious joy about them. If you haven’t seen their engagement session, NOW is the time! We’ve been looking forward to their wedding day ever since we saw those smiles and their chic style. We were expecting fabulous details, breathtaking views (come on, it’s The Art Institute), and swoon-worthy moments. Get ready for all of the above! We asked bride Tina all about the wedding day. Enjoy, and join us in congratulating these two lovelies!
We both wanted something that, when looking back at our wedding day years from now, would be timeless, classic, but with a modern twist. Once we decided on the Art Institute, we knew that all the details needed to reflect our love for art, the beauty of the building, and the beginning of Spring. This included details such as Jonathan wearing a navy tuxedo with cufflinks matching the AIC lions and Starry Night socks (all of the groomsmen wore socks of different paintings), a string quartet playing modern songs before/during the ceremony & cocktail hour, and Tina’s hand-made art/Chicago specific photobooth props.
For Tina, it was stepping outside of the typical white wedding dress and choosing to wear a traditional Vietnamese ao dai. An ao dai is a long, flowing tunic over trousers, most commonly worn by Vietnamese women for special occasions. Both Tina’s mom and grandmother wore one when they got married; the choice to wear one would be a surprise to her family and also a nod to her heritage.
Tina sought out a designer she had found online after spending some time looking up custom ao dai’s; unbeknownst to her, it turns out that he is very well known throughout the Vietnamese community due to his association as the head designer for a popular Vietnamese variety show. From there, Tina booked a trip with her parents to Orange County to meet with Thai Nguyen. Thai and Tina quickly bonded over their love for fashion and design, and he created custom, hand-beaded ao dais for Tina and her mom.
Any favorite moments from the day?
Our first look was perfect. It was raining all morning but the weather cleared up just in time for the wedding party to walk from the Chicago Athletic Association to the Art Institute front steps. Jonathan was waiting in front of one of the lions and as Tina approached him, the bucket boys started drumming, which made it feel like a dramatic, grand entrance.
So tell us about this fabulous venue….
The Art Institute is our favorite place in the city. We love spending hours walking through the museum exploring new exhibits as well as visiting some of our favorite museum staples. Regardless of how many times we’ve been to the museum, there is always something new and exciting to discover. The lions on the front steps is our city meeting spot, whether it is meeting up for dinner after work, or getting lost in the shuffle of a parade or concert–we can always find each other in front of the lions. To be able to share our love for this place and for each other with our closest friends and family meant a lot to us.
It also has special significance because it’s where Jonathan proposed, in front of Renoir’s Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando. This is a detail that our officiant worked into her script, as a metaphor for our marriage; we also gave out chocolate oranges as our wedding favor.
One unique moment from our ceremony was the tea ceremony. In the Vietnamese culture, serving tea to one’s parents is a devout way to express their gratitude for being raised. But also the tea ceremony is meaningful in other ways; it is a symbol of purity, stability, and sweetness. The purity of the tea signifies that their love is pure and noble; the stability of the tea stands for faithful love; and the sweetness of the tea is believed to bring a sweet and satisfying life.
Any wisdom for other couples?
We created a separate email address to handle everything related to the wedding. It’s such a simple thing but it was really helpful in every step of planning. Consider things that are not just visually appealing, but also appeal to the other senses to enhance your guests’ experience. E.g we had a string quartet playing “Kashmir” by Led Zepplin as they entered the museum. The crescendo in the music got our guests excited and set the tone for the evening.
If you’re debating between writing personal vows versus reciting the generic, go for writing your own. It’s very confronting to figure how to convey your feelings for someone you love in a mere few sentences, but to declare your love to one another in your own words and in front of everyone you love allows you to have such a sweet moment. It also gives your family and friends a glimpse of how in love you are with each other.
The Wedding Day Team
Venue: Art Institute of Chicago | Event Coordinator: Lionhearted Events | Bridal Gown: Thai Nguyen Atelier | Cake: Molly’s Cupcakes | Caterer: Bon Appetit | Celebrant: The Rev for Whatev | Ceremony Musicians: Quartet Parapluie | Custom Printing: Minted | Floral: Edwards Florist | Lighting Design: Magic Uplighting | Hair/Make-Up: Tera Weeks & Becky Luckmann | Groom’s Clothing: Avant for Men | DJ: Style Matters DJs