Like most couples, Chao and David had a busy, full wedding day. But unlike other couples, their most memorable part of the day was the nap they took. “Our favorite part of the day was our nap at 3 p.m. in the afternoon,” says Chao, explaining the couple was up all night making flower arrangements. Then the girls woke up at 3 a.m. for hair and makeup. “It was such a fully packed morning we were exhausted, and the nap really helped us power through the rest of the evening.”

The couple, who first met at a bar in San Jose, dated three years before getting engaged. They had a short engagement; just seven months, and made plans to marry at The Firehouse. “In my [Vietnamese] culture it is bad luck for two sisters to get married in the same year, so right after my older sister got married, we announced our engagement. It was our turn, and we started planning.”

They knew they wanted a summer wedding but planning that vision got stressful. “We started to feel frantic and overwhelmed in our first month of planning so we reached out to family members for help,” says Chao, crediting her brother-in-law for helping them find a venue. He suggested The Firehouse, which Chao had already liked. When they did a walk through, “We knew we had to book with them right away,” says Chao. “This is where we wanted to say our vows to each other.”

Family and tradition played a large role in the nuptials. Friday evening, the night before the wedding, the couple had a traditional tea ceremony with both their families at the bride’s parents’ home. Additionally, Chao’s mother handmade the bride’s and groom’s attire.

On Saturday, the ceremony was perfect. “As the doors opened up for me to walk down the aisle it was like stepping into a dream,” says Chao. David remembers watching his bride in that moment. “I knew the day would someday come, and I would be excited, happy and nervous,” he says, “That moment when the doors swung open, everything else just froze in time; it was like seeing her for the first time all over again.”

The reception was held at Happy Garden Restaurant. The large venue was able to comfortably accommodate the 500-plus wedding guests. The menu included many traditional dishes including crab meat soup, roasted duck and salt and pepper crab, with a five-tier white Asian sponge cake for dessert.

Drafting and finalizing that large guest list was a challenge but the couple made sure all those guests felt welcome. It’s a Vietnamese tradition to greet every table. “We made sure to dedicate three hours of our reception schedule to greet the tables,” says Chao, who changed into a second dress, a traditional Vietnamese dress that David’s mother had custom made for her.

Overall, the couple recommends planning ahead because you’ll be kicking yourself later for not doing so, unless, that is, you plan to take a nap a few hours prior to saying “I do.” 

— Kristen Castillo