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A Summertime Vietnamese Tea Ceremony and Western Wedding in Dallas

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Nela Kekic with Christian Oth Studio

|Planning by 

Keestone Events

Thuy Nguyen and Joseph Lembo initially met during their medical training in New Hampshire. She was the supervising resident for the team that Joe joined as an intern. They began a friendship that eventually grew into something more. After Joe left the state, the two kept their long-distance relationship a secret for years—one of their friends only found out that the pair had been together for five years at another friend’s wedding in New Delhi. The pair was finally able to date locally in St. Louis in 2019 before moving to San Francisco together.

One night, Joe invited Thuy to try a new pizza place, hoping that she would not suspect what was to come and trying to throw her off the scent. The restaurant, of course, was a front for an intimate five-course tasting menu. On their romantic walk home, he got down on one knee.

At the onset of wedding planning, the couple decided to host their weekend close to her family in northern Texas. The events kicked off with an Italian summer-themed welcome party—a nod to Joe’s family heritage—followed by a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony. On July 31, 2021, the two exchanged vows in a Western service. To help bring their vision to life, the two hired Keestone Events. Nela Kekic with Christian Oth Studio documented the festivities, along with Alycia Kravtiz.

On the morning of the wedding ceremony, Thuy got ready with LB Rosser, who gave the bride a bold beauty look, in a white Natori silk robe. Thuy then put on her custom áo dài, made in her hometown of Huế, Vietnam, for the tea ceremony. She chose a vibrant red fabric with gold accents, while Joe wore a similar design in navy. Bridesmaids were outfitted in similar red áo dàis—the same looks that Thuy’s mother’s own bridesmaids’ wore years prior. Thuy’s family also surprised her with a gold áo dài to wear during her grand reception entrance and the lion dance.

Vim and Venture built a custom red and gold fan display that served as background for the prayer and offering table. Thuy’s brother, My, served as the master of ceremonies and led guests and family through the proceedings. The wedding party placed gifts on the table, and then gold bands passed down from the couple’s grandparents were exchanged. Finally, Thuy and Joe offered prayers to their ancestors and served their parents tea to celebrate the union. A light sushi lunch followed, prepared by Kent Rathbun Catering.

For the Western ceremony, the bride fell in love with a Monique Lhuillier A-line illusion sleeve gown, paired with a royal-length veil and Christian Louboutin heels. Bridesmaids complemented Thuy in all white. Joe looked handsome in a classic black Tom Ford Atticus tuxedo with Salvatore Ferragamo Oxfords and a Cartier watch, gifted by Thuy’s family at the tea ceremony.

Harpist Sarah Copus performed a rendition of “How Long Will I Love You” by Ellie Goulding, as Thuy walked down the aisle with her father. One of Joe’s best friends, Nick, officiated the ceremony, concluding with Thuy and Joe exchanging vows and Van Cleef & Arpels bands. Singer Jeremiah Brinkley then led the recessional with a live rendition of Tim Halperin’s “The Best Is Yet To Come.”

When it came time for dinner, guests picked up welcome bags with artisan chocolates curated by Cacao and Cardamom Chocolatier that also had their table assignments. In the ballroom, Bows & Arrows Flowers hung greenery from the floor-to-ceiling windows and Bread’n’Butter Plant Design put trees throughout the dining hall for an overgrown garden experience. Crystal candelabras were dispersed on tables with forest green taper candles, matching the majestic chandeliers.

Once everyone was seated, the couple made their entrance to Liam Payne and Rita Ora’s song, “For You.” Then, Rising Pheonix’s Vietnamese lion dance performers led guests back into the main atrium for their show.

At the end of the delicious dinner, loved ones gathered to watch Thuy and Joe cut their cake. “Fancy Cakes by Lauren and Bows & Arrows outdid themselves creating our vision of an exuberant flower garden with a central towering wedding cake and train of white butterflies escaping over the cake,” Thuy says. “We made our first cut to an instrumental version of ‘Far Longer Than Forever’ from The Swan Princess, as this was the first song we had ever danced to when we were initially dating.”

After heart-warming speeches, the wind section of Manhattan of Jordan Kahn Orchestra marched outside to the dance floor, where the 10-piece band was ready to get the party started. The bride and groom began the night with a first dance to “All For You” by The Light The Heat with choreography by Jasmine Worrell.

To conclude the festivities, the band led revelers to the grand entranceway, where they were handed paper lanterns to hold over the happy couple as they made their grand exit and hopped into a white Porsche 911 Carrera.