My friend Julien from high school just got married yesterday. Also yesterday, while chatting with someone about her upcoming wedding, I learned that two of my other friends had gotten engaged (to each other) that very afternoon. That’s probably a cue for me to write something wedding-related, such as my former “career” in the wedding business. Few people know that after doing so many weddings, I started an official program to become a certified wedding planner, until I realized that my clients would no longer be my friends, but crazy stressed-out brides fighting with their moms and bridesmaids. That aside, weddings are fun!
As a wedding videographer
One of my first jobs was to be a wedding videographer. My team and I showed up at the groom’s place in Dorchester one Saturday morning. After ringing the doorbell a few times, the groom finally opened the door. He was still in his boxers, trying to hide the sun from his sleepy face. Behind him, three or four guys were lying on the living room floor, passed out. We decided to leave the guys and cross the street to the bride’s place, where mayhem was taking place. Women were running all over the house, yelling orders among laughing children who were excited by the unusual chaos.
Soon enough, the guys got their act together and marched over with gifts to the bride’s house to begin the Vietnamese ceremony. This was my first day on the job, and I had never been to a wedding before, except when I was a little kid. With my face against the camera eyepiece, I tried not to cry… before I got distracted by loud disruptive voices outside the living room window. The rest of the family was enthusiastically chitchatting out in the yard without a care in the world. When I later asked why they weren’t inside for the ceremony, someone explained that they had already seen so many weddings that all this display had become old. They were just waiting for lunch.
I won’t go in the details of the reception. For all the fifteen-or-so Vietnamese weddings that I’ve either attended or worked at, the menu consistently comprised of the same ten courses. I’ve seen heated arguments, I’ve seen the groom flirt with a bridesmaid, I’ve seen the best man rejoin the festivities with blood on his shirt after a fistfight, I’ve seen the groom throw up alone in the hallway… But there were mostly laughs and good times, including one groom who was so happy that he reminded me of a little boy on Christmas morning. He was jumping everywhere, hugging everyone. The one thing I won’t miss, though, is drunk guests singing “My Heart Will Go On” in a Vietnamese accent over the karaoke machine.
As a wedding planner and hair stylist
In grad school, I got the incredible opportunity to plan my first wedding. The location, the invitations, the vows, the dresses, the flowers, the food, the music (including the first dance song), the photography, the cake, the hair and makeup for the bride and bridesmaids… This couple had given me complete freedom over their big day! (Photo credit: Celeste Chudyk)
That first wedding launched my reputation within the Brandeis Chemistry Department as the go-to person for all wedding matters. In total, not counting my responsibilities as a bridesmaid, I think I’ve helped plan or prepare eight to ten weddings for friends at Brandeis, MIT, and Harvard. (Photo credit: 1-4 by Celeste Chudyk, 6-9 by X. Sean Liu)
As a bridesmaid
Being a bridesmaid means you’ll get to try on a lot of dresses, not all of which will be flattering, but it’s fun if you have the right attitude and remember that it’s all about the couple’s vision. (Thanks to Danielle for going to this appointment with me and for taking pictures.)
You might also experience overzealous makeup artists. One (non-Asian) woman in particular was very excited to be working on “someone exotic,” and went a bit overboard with it. I know your makeup should stand out in pictures, but I’ve always managed to wipe layers off my face when no one was looking. I just flee the makeup artist after I’ve violated her work.
Now would also be a good time to point out that Kate Middleton did her own wedding makeup, which I think is awesome!
A few last words about weddings
(Photo credit for the first four pictures: Tingting Ju, X. Sean Liu, Celeste Chudyk, Sondy)