I JUST CAME TO SAY HELLO
In Vietnamese wedding culture, the bride and groom–with entourage in tow–greets every table of guests at their reception to toast and thank them for attending. This gesture is called chào bàn and can involve lots of drinking for the groom. Chào bàn literally translates to, “hello, table.” Before this tradition commences, the bride does a wardrobe change from her wedding gown to her áo chào bàn, an áo dài worn specifically for this purpose.
Brides have the option of either repeating the same áo dài from her morning đón dâu ceremony or opt for an additional one. Thinking back to the engagement, then fast forwarding to the wedding day, this could potentially be a Vietnamese bride’s third áo dài. Add in her wedding gown and that’s four wardrobe changes! And honey, we haven’t even talked about the cake cutting or dancing dresses yet! On my wedding day, I opted to not have a đón dâu ceremony (gasp!) so my áo chào bàn was exactly just that–to say hello and toast my guests.
In a previous post, I mentioned I did not have Pinterest at the time of planning my 2012 nuptials. So I relied on good ol Google Images to inspire my áo dài design. And inspire it did indeed as I discovered my muse:
I fell in love with how contemporary and stunning Nini Nguyen‘s áo dài was! It was far from the expected red, gold and dragon or phoenix motif. The sheer fabric was fresh, the sweetheart neck femme, and the necklace a statement. Her lip color was bold, her gaze soft and her stance graceful.
With image saved to my phone and about six months from the wedding day, I shopped for my ao chào bàn and áo lễ hỏi simultaneously. At a fabric shop named Lua Dao, in Westminster, CA, I spied with my little Asian eyes a beautiful textile with appliqués of ivory and cream and knew instantly it was the one.
Though it was not exactly like Nini Nguyen’s, I loved that it fit my wedding theme and color story. I still borrowed the sweetheart neck design from her, though. My áo chào bàn and matching khăn đống (turban) was made to measure with all the same materials. The tailoress sketched out my design and took pre measurements. I returned four weeks before wedding day for final measurements and sewing. Two weeks before wedding day I returned a third time for the final fitting and any last minute tweaks. Then came the big day….and I rocked the hell out of it! Or as the cool kids say nowadays…I SLAYED IT….or is it slew? #grammargeek
Photos: The Coco Gallery (c) 2012