Love: Phuong Nguyen & Linh Lam

April 1

8, 2009, in Newark, Del.

By Kellie Patrick Gates

Inquirer Love Columnist

Hello there

In 2005, Phuong was studying chemical engineering at the University of Delaware and working at a Newark nail salon to pay the bills. She and coworker Trish were talking about men one day when Phuong said, "Why don't you hook me up?"

Trish called her cousin, Linh. Phuong didn't expect Trish to take her seriously. But then the phone was in her hand. Phuong talked to Linh for as long as she could while at work. And then when she got home, they talked more. Trish was having a birthday party that weekend, so she invited her cousin - and set up a date for Linh and Phuong the night before.

Linh, an IT guy, was working in Florida at the time, but he regularly took weekend trips to far-away places such as Los Angeles and Amsterdam. The day after the long phone calls, he flew to Delaware. Phuong and Linh had dinner and drinks. The next day, they attended Trish's birthday dinner together. That night, Mr. Jet Set was supposed to have a date in New York, but he canceled to spend more time with Phuong.

How does forever sound?

By the end of 2005, Phuong, who is now 25, and Linh, 31, were planning a life together. The plan was this: Buy a house. Get engaged and married. After that, Phuong agreed that Linh could indulge his "extravagant taste in cars."

The couple bought their Newark home in January 2006. And then Linh surprised Phuong with tickets for a three-week trip to Japan. She had always wanted to go there. And surely, he would propose there! Every morning, Phuong asked herself, "Is today the day?" But it never was.

A month after the trip, Linh called Phuong at work. "Babe," he told her. "I bought a car!" Not just any car, but a BMW 335i coupe. Linh was not sticking to the plan. The more Phuong thought about it, the angrier she got.

That evening, Linh insisted Phuong and her parents join his family at his nephew's birthday party. Phuong was not in the mood. "During the whole dinner, he kept showing off his car to his brothers, his cousin, everyone," Phuong said. She stewed in the corner. As dinner was ending, Linh said, "I have to show you something," and led Phuong outside.

He told her to stand next to the car and close her eyes. When she opened them, "He was on his knee, with the goofiest look on his face. 'Will you marry me?' he asked me. I couldn't help but ask him, 'Are you asking me, or are you asking the car?' "

Her snarky comment rid Phuong of her annoyance, and the couple went back inside to celebrate.

It was so them

Legally, Phuong and Linh have been married since last summer, when the two eloped to Key West on a most auspicious date: 8/8/08. They wanted to take advantage of the good fortune that was supposed to surround brides and grooms that day, and they wanted more time to save up for a big reception with friends and family. But most important, they wanted to get the legal stuff done to clear an entire day for the cultural traditions that would marry them in the eyes of their families and in their own hearts. Both Phuong, a research scientist/engineer at the Army Research Lab at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., and Linh, an IT consultant at Bertex Inc. in Berwyn, were born in Vietnam. Linh is ethnically Chinese, as was Phuong's grandmother. The couple decided to honor their heritages by holding tea ceremonies that mixed elements of both cultures. To pull it off as authentically as possible, Phuong and her wedding planner, Christina D. Mitchell, spent a lot of time in the ethnic shops on South Philadelphia's Washington Avenue.

The first ceremony began at 8 a.m. at Phuong's parents' home. Phuong dressed in a traditional Vietnamese wedding gown, covered with animals and flowers embroidered in silk thread. Phuong was waiting with her bridesmaids when Linh and his entourage - his groomsmen and family members - had arrived downstairs. They had brought a symbolic dowry of traditional items: tea, wine, fruit, cake, jewelry, and a whole roast pig.

Phuong's mom, Thin Nguyen, welcomed the group inside, and placed their offerings on a table. Linh bounded up the stairs, where he met the bride's man - Phuong's friend, Aaron - who was guarding her door. Aaron demanded money, and, as custom dictates, he and Linh haggled. Aaron settled for $99.99. But Aaron was not satisfied with just money. He demanded that the groom perform tasks to show his worthiness - he made Linh do jumping jacks and sing.

Linh finally got to see his bride and escort her downstairs, where he presented her with a wedding ring. They prayed, asking the bride's ancestors for blessings, and then began the tea ceremony.

The couple served tea to Phuong's parents, Thin and Hong. After they drank, the Nguyens gave the couple their blessings, and a red envelope of money (red symbolizes good luck). The ceremony was repeated with Phuong's aunt and uncle, and then everyone celebrated with food Thin prepared.

About an hour after the groom's arrival, everyone traveled to Linh's parents' home, where they prayed to his ancestors and served tea to his grandmother, Quyen Huynh, then his mother and father, My-y and Hong, and then his aunts, uncles and brother. After the second round of prayers, tea, blessings, and gifts, the couple prepared for their reception.

The reception for 120 was held at Camden's Adventure Aquarium. "One side of our ballroom was the wall of the shark tank!"

Awestruck

Phuong describes her husband as a tough guy who never cries. But when the newlyweds began dancing to the version of "Endless Love" by Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross, "he started bawling," she said. "We were both crying tears of joy."


Discretionary spending

A bargain: Rather than purchase pomanders, corsages, and boutonnieres for the wedding party and family, Phuong bought wire and beads and made flowers that would last forever. She spent less than $300.

The splurge: Phuong's wedding attire. The traditional Vietnamese dress cost about $1,000. Her two American-style dresses - the ball gown she wore at the beginning of the reception and the simpler dress she wore when she eloped and during the second part of the reception - each cost about $5,000. "When it comes to fashion, I can't really say 'No,' " she said.

The getaway

The couple honeymooned for a few days in Miami after their Key West wedding.

Behind the Scenes

Venues The bride's parents' home, the groom's parents' home, both in Newark; and Adventure Aquarium in Camden. CatererAramark Catering, Philadelphia
Photography Tom Smith Photography, Newark, Del.

Videographer Tangerine Media Group of Conshohocken DressesThe traditional dress was designed by Lan Huong of Hanoi, Vietnam. The two American-style dresses were designed by Reem Acra and purchased at Betsy Robinson Bridal Boutique in Baltimore.

Invitations Made by the bride

Planner Christina D. Mitchell of Heaven Sent Wedding Consultants, Philadelphia

 

Love

By Jennifer Dorazio

Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted on Sun, Sep. 9, 2007

Married

July 21 at Holy Cross Church in Springfield, Delaware County, with Msgr. Joseph Duncan presiding. Springfield Country Club hosted the reception for 165.

They met

In June 2002 at a picnic. Karri was dating a groomsman in Peter's cousin's wedding (Peter was the best man). About a month later, their paths crossed at Ocean Drive in Sea Isle City, N.J. Her romance had fallen apart; he was getting out of his relationship as well. "Things didn't exactly end nicely for either of us," Karri says. "We were friends first. We supported each other." By the end of July, a spark had developed, and Karri invited Peter over for dinner. Too nervous to cook, she made a reservation at Iron Hill Brewery in West Chester instead.

He asked

On Sept. 11, 2005, at her home in Gibbstown. It was Karri's family birthday party (she was born Sept. 12), and Peter placed candles on the cake. After a round of "Happy Birthday" with relatives, Peter asked Karri to make a wish. When she blew out the candles, he was kneeling next to her asking, "Did you wish for this?" "I'm like, oh my goodness. I thought it was a bracelet at first."

9 to 5

Karri, 28, of Perkiomenville, is a nuclear medicine technologist at South Jersey Radiology in Voorhees. Peter, 32, of Washington Township, is an electrician at Gateway Electric in Philadelphia.

Making a home

The newlyweds live in Gibbstown.


First steps

To a combination of two popular songs: "At Last" by Etta James and "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" by Barry White.

Doing it their way

Christina D. Mitchell of Heaven Sent Wedding Consultants helped Karri and Peter pull off a stunning rainbow/monogram-themed day. Karri's maid and matron of honor and her four bridesmaids wore the dress color of their choosing. The bride wanted them to wear shades that flattered their skin tone, and gave them 12 color options. The choices: Dessy gowns in light pink, aqua, champagne, cantaloupe, mint green and iris purple. They carried all-white bouquets of a single flower of their choosing: calla lilies, gerbera daisies, peonies, roses and other blooms. Karri's bouquet combined them all. She wore a V-neck dress with beaded bodice and pick-up skirt by Anne Barge, from Marlton's Bridal Garden.

The monogram theme emerged on Karri's shoes: KMP in blue crystals (her "something blue") on the soles. Additional monogramming could be found on the dance floor, the cake, the invitations, and a giant "M" ice sculpture. The maids added the only punch of color: Baby's breath and white hydrangea centerpieces, with hurricane globes and creamy linens, gave the tables an all-white flair. Cocktail hour boasted a Sinatra-style crooner, and guests sneaked away to a rented antique photo booth, which churned out four images, three to keep, one for the guestbook.

Not a dry eye

"We got a little choked up," the bride says, during the best man and maid and matron of honor speeches. "They were really heartfelt. They told stories that we had forgotten."

Bloopers

At the cake-cutting, Karri begged Peter not to smash cake in her face. But her younger brother Ryan was egging them on - so Peter turned and gave him a noseful instead, to everyone's delight.

Karri says

"Try to relax. We were late for the church due to traffic and I got upset. I needed to realize that some things don't go off on time. Roll with the punches."

The honeymoon

Ten days in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

 

Lucky Day for Love? Couples are Banking on 07/07/07 

WPVI By Lisa Thomas Laury June 29, 2007 -

It is understandable that next Saturday, July 7th (the 7th day of the 7th month of the year 2007) is generating a great deal of excitement. Many are calling it the luckiest day of the century.
There are Seven Wonders of the World, seven continents and seven seas. Next Saturday, the new 7 Wonders of the World will be announced in Portugal, and Live Earth Concerts will be held on the 7 continents to promote action against global warming. And, with the lucky connotation of this special date, the 7th day of the 7th month of 2007 is shaping up to be the most popular wedding day of the century. "I need all the luck I can get and I know he'll never forget the anniversary date," said Donna Burns, who is trying her luck at 7-7-07.

Although her "luck" with planning the ceremony almost ran out. She had a hard time booking an officiant to marry her and her fiance Mark! "I ended up going online and getting a reverend online. I call him rent-a-rev," she said. In fact, wedding planner Christina Mitchell said her phone was ringing off the hook well over a year ago with brides eager to snag the so-called "luckiest date of the century" to say their I do's.

Mitchell said Donna wasn't the only bride having "bad luck" with the planning. "A lot of venues where booked up, and a lot of vendors and videographers were booked so it was really tough," said Mitchell. David's Bridal estimates about 65,000 weddings will be held in the United States next Saturday, which happens to fall on 4th of July holiday weekend. "It's at least double of what you would have on the busiest weekend of the year," said Cindi Freeburn. Triple 7's signify a jackpot, but are couples just rolling the dice on love? No, according to clairvoyant "Monica" who read the numbers for us. "It's a strong time with religion, astrology, marriages, commitment," she said. "It represents a very strong unity of energy," she said. University of Pennsylvania Professor of Folklore Dan Ben-Amos said culture has a lot to do with the luck. "This is a phenomenon involves long deep-rooted tradition in the western world and in the Christian world," he said. "Every culture has a set of good numbers and bad numbers and its culture related." Donna says she knows the number 7 is the number that will bring her luck.
So, it appears marrying your sweetheart next Saturday may guarantee happiness 24-7 for the rest of your life. At minimum, it should ensure your spouse will never forget your anniversary!

 

In Seven Heaven
The number seven reappears throughout human history in a myriad of forms and almost every culture finds some significance in it. If the number 666 is universally considered to be an "evil" number, then 777 could be its opposite as the universally "good" number. Perhaps it's just a number or perhaps it's magical; maybe it's plain or maybe it's lucky. One thing is for sure: July 7th, 2007‚" or 07-07-07" will be the biggest date for couples getting married.
Saturday is so popular that TheKnot.com reports that 38,000 of its registered couples chose it for their nuptials -- three times more than an average Saturday in July. Philadelphia-based wedding planner Christina D. Mitchell was overwhelmed with requests for her services on 7-7-07 and had to turn down several couples. "So many vendors and venues were booked up a year out," said Mitchell, owner of Heaven Sent Wedding Consultants. "When I was calling venues for the date, they were almost laughing saying 'We've been booked a year and a half for that date.' It was really tough to put on a wedding for that particular date." Karri Miller and Peter Melnychuck, luckily, secured Mitchell early last year for their July nuptials.
"One of the reasons my clients decided to pick that day is because of the significance of the number seven," explained Mitchell. "It's the number of completion, (which includes): seven days, seven seas, seven continents, the Seven Wonders of the World."

Other numeral seven customs include the seven candles are lit during Kwanzaa. Buddha is said to have walked seven steps upon his birth. The Islamic tradition believes in seven levels of heaven. In the Orthodox Jewish tradition, the bride circles the groom seven times to symbolize the seven days of creation.
The Big Dipper is formed from seven stars and a ladybug has seven spots. There are seven notes on a musical scale and soon, the seventh and final Harry Potter book will be released. The ancient city of Rome was said to be built on seven hills. There are seven deadly sins, as well as virtues, in some Christian traditions. And gamblers hit the jackpot with the slot machine combination 7-7-7. Tomorrow, the Pennsylvania Lottery Millionaire Raffle will offer 7,777 cash prizes worth more than $6.4 million when the game is drawn tomorrow at 7 p.m. "Seven has always been a popular number for lottery players, so we decided to celebrate July 7, 2007, with a raffle drawing," said Lottery Executive Director Ed Trees.

Celebrities tying the knot tomorrow include "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker at a French chateau and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and his longtime companion Gelila Assefa on the Italian island of Capri. Prince will reveal his new perfume line, 3121 (which, if added, equals seven" a number the Artist has traditionally been fixated on), with an unusual hometown performance at Macy's in downtown Minneapolis on July 7. In 1997, vocalist Erykah Badu and former boyfriend Andre 3000 of OutKast fame, produced a son they named Seven. It should be noted that Badu's career has been heavily influence by a childhood spent listening to '70s Soul music.

If Cupid happens to spear (and spur) your heart into the nuptial mood, you can try to book a quickie ceremony at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Although its seven separate chapels are booked for more than 450 couples, there are $77 specials still available for seven couples to get married at the same time. 14 ministers (that's seven times two) will officiate the package deals offered at 7 a.m., 1:07 p.m. and 7 p.m. While many couples will count their lucky stars as they celebrate the magic of the number seven, Mitchell notes it is also an easy date for grooms to memorize. "7-7-7‚ "they cannot forget that."

By Bobbi Booker Published: 7/11/2007


Expo Gives tips for hassle-free nuptials

Avoid becoming a 'Bridezilla' a new breed of soon-to-wed women who abuse the idea, by using tips from the experts on bridal etiquette and dazzling style for the ultra special day

By Bobbie Booker: Published: 12/15/06

Although most people are dashing about preparing for the upcoming holiday season, potential brides-to-be are dealing with a different calendar. According to Heaven Sent Wedding Consultants owner Christina D. Mitchell, the 2007 wedding season is almost half over. "Believe it or not even though it's December, you might as well say it's January or February in wedding season because things get booked up so rapidly in this industry."

In fact, Mitchell has had to turn down several potential clients because the most popular wedding date of the up coming year is July 7, or 07-07-07. Similarly, this year's big wedding date was June 6th as in the upcoming date August 8th, 2008.

Still for this Sunday future brides may glimpse emerging nuptials trends at the Mahogany Wedding Expo 2007 at the First District Plaza, 3801 Market St. The expo will be held from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. and feature couture designers, along with a dazzling bridal fashion show.

Mitchell, a certified wedding coordinator and event planner is a graduate of Temple University's wedding consulting program, and has honored her skill by getting hands on experience with nationally recognized wedding experts. She notes that as brides prepare for their upcoming nuptials, wedding trends have shifted, including the loss of the month of June as the favorite month to marry.

October is the new June because the weather is still warm and, for brides that want to go on their honeymoon, hurricane season is over," she said.

Another trend the newly engaged must handle is hot to avoid becoming a Bridezilla. Bridezilla are a new breed of soon-to-wed women who abuse the idea that wedding are their "day." They terrorize their bridal party and family members, make greedy demands and break all the rules of etiquette to insure that they are the single most important person on the planet from the time they are engaged to the time they are married. Mitchell offer sound wedding planning advice and peace of mind to these overly anxious brides.

"The self-centered control freak brides says, I can do this on my own' and then they get stressed out and getting on everybody's nerves" said Mitchell, who recalls her experience when she was hired by a client who was initially a Bridezilla. "I had to make sure I gained her confidence and let her know that I had her best interest at heart. And I say with any coordinator (who's_ dealing with a brides that's that way communication is the key. Let the bride know every tiny detail that is going on because they love that.

Mitchell's Christian beliefs set her apart form other coordinators. "And what makes Christina unique is here professional training, her dedication to her clients and her integrity. Mitchell employs an investigative approach when initially meeting her potential clients. I ask my brides what is the most important thing for them on their special day.

"Some says food because they want their guest to enjoy a great cuisine. Another bride may say dacor and want specialty linens, chair covers and sashes. Every bride is unique with her style.