Officially Engaged

12 Aug

Our Dam Hoi engagement ceremony and celebrations last weekend were a resounding success. It’s taken me a week to recover. What I thought was a slight hangover turned in to actual sickness – severe allergies apparently – but I am happily medicated and on the mend. We laughed, we cried, we danced. Our families came together around tradition, stories from our childhoods and, of course, alcohol.

Preparations continued until the day before, but we pulled it all together and I was able to get out to my parent’s house for an early bedtime. It seems like we’ve been waiting for ages to get to the dam hoi. We were engaged in July 2012, so it was just over a year getting to this point. Now we’re only three weeks away from the wedding.

The day started bright and early with a dear friend who agreed to beautify me at 6 AM. There was much coffee, indeed. My ao dai fit beautifully and – bonus – was almost as comfy as my pj’s. Unfortunately the khan dong (or circular hat – like a halo) didn’t fit. Either the fabric retracted and tightened or my head shrunk massively. Either way, I couldn’t get it to sit properly on my head and there was no pinning it in place. At least I got to have a fuller up-do as a result.

Wearing the Vietnamese hat

See? We tried. There’s tons of daylight on both sides of the hat.

The weather was overcast and drizzly throughout the morning, which makes for gorgeous photos and even, muted lighting. I hope to get our professional photos back this week, which I will of course share with you here.

In the interim, here’s one of my favorites thus far spending a little quality time with my nephew who was a trooper and spent the entire day with us.

Holding my nephew before the ceremony

The first part of the ceremony at my family’s home went well and our families were able to get to know each other in a more intimate setting before we left for his home where many more extended family members were gathered. I made a big batch of Banh Pate So/Pate Chaud (meat pastries) to nibble on and they were a hit with both sides of the family! I used the same recipe but handled the puff pastry sheets much better. Two packages Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheets made over 32 pastries – you can see how my pouch-making skills improved from last time.

Pate Chaud meat pastries fresh out of the oven

My only other direct contribution to the ceremonies was a flower arrangement session for the reception tables. The Safeway by our house has gorgeous blooms (they even do weddings!) so I bought a bunch of roses and other fillers and made my own arrangements. I think they turned out quite nice.

Flower arrangements with roses

I’ll write more about the ceremony at his parent’s home when I have the photos, but I will say that it was moving. We received wonderful advice and blessings from our elders and had tearful moments with our parents. It was a beautiful ceremony and it makes me even more thankful to be marrying a wonderful man and joining his family.

After the ceremony, we had an amazing buffet spread from Sampan Cafe. Everything was delicious and the roast pig from Eden Center was delicious. At some point, it was decided that we should toast our engagement with shots. Of Jim Beam. Lots and lots of Jim Beam. The toasts came in pairs and, naturally, linked arms. Here’s a gem of our Fathers. This one is a framer.

Our father's taking a celebratory shot of Jim Beam

We had a beautiful engagement cake with mocha filling that is to die for. If you’re in the Northern Virginia, DC or Maryland area, definitely check out Cakes by Long.  He does amazing work and the cakes are delicious. We’ve used him for several events. He does weddings too, but we went another route for our big day.

Blowing out candles on our engagement cake

You blow out candles on every cake, right?

After the cake, the drinks and stories kept flowing for hours, and we of course set up a table for Xập Xám (sap sahm).

Family playing 13 card poker

Even my family got in on the action.

It was an amazing day that I will never forget and we are so thankful to have such wonderful family and friends to help celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.

My father in law offering a toast during the engagement ceremony party

One Response to “Officially Engaged”

  1. Patty August 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Your Dad and I are so blessed to have such a wonderful and beautiful daughter who is bringing an equally wonderful son-in-law to our family! It was such pleasure for the two families to come together in each other’s homes and share in the beautiful Dam Hoi tradition for Amanda and Franky.

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