Ally and Adam’s Vietnamese Tea Ceremony and Backyard Wedding in Utah
Allyson Nguyen, a relationship manager at an investment firm, met Adam Lyle, a medical student, in 2007 on a night out with coworkers. They became fast friends and stayed in touch, even after Ally moved to Boston for work and school three years later. However, once Ally took the lead and invited Adam to visit her in Massachusetts, the pair found the “friends zone” a tricky status to maintain and decided to give love a chance—albeit, the long-distance kind.
Ally and Adam dated for the next three years, and while on vacation to Kauai, Hawaii, in April 2013 with their friends, the group took a walk along the beach after a long day exploring. Ally sensed something was off when Adam ran ahead instead of strolling beside her to take in the ocean views. Suspicious, Ally then picked up on other unusual clues, like one pal’s abnormally large backpack, and his too-perfect, paparazzi-styled shooting as she and Adam approached a picturesque scene.
Ally posed for a shot but couldn’t get Adam to stop and smile for the camera. Instead, he was whispering, “I love you more than anything in the world,” and then created the truly picture-perfect moment by dropping to one knee. Not knowing he was about to propose, Ally dropped down, too. Then, the jig was up! Their friends pulled out glasses and Champagne, and according to Ally, “the celebrations have continued ever since.”
The duo married in Holladay, Utah, on May 24, 2014, at Adam’s parents’ home where he grew up, a place where “no other wedding venues could compare,” Ally says. Their day had an earthy theme, with rock and fern accents, mimicking the state’s landscape and the terrain of the nearby Rocky Mountains.
The Tea Ceremony
Six months before the wedding, on Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013, the pair joined their families for a traditional tea ceremony to honor the Vietnamese custom of formally asking one’s parents to grant permission and blessings to marry.
Along with Ally, both mothers wore traditional silk dresses called áo dài, while Adam sported the male version, all custom-made in Vietnam for the occasion.
During the tea ceremony, it is traditional for the mother-in-law to gift her future daughter-in-law something special. Adam’s mother gave Ally a keepsake necklace.
Ally chose to color the tea ceremony (and her two-tier fondant cake) in red and gold because those shades represent good luck, wealth, and happiness in Vietnamese culture.
The couple served their parents and future in-laws tea to show thanks for raising and loving the two of them. The families then lit candles in remembrance of lost relatives.
Antiquaria, an online design studio, created the wedding invitations. The suite featured ink in earthy colors and a floral motif that complemented the wedding’s décor.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
The ceremony was held at Adam’s parents’ home. “It was intimate,” says the bride. “No one else has married here before, and there are so many memories built in this beautiful place.”
The bride wore a Monique Lhuillier gown (from Alta Moda bridal salon) and Jimmy Choo heels. “I procrastinated, but it was the first dress I tried on,” Ally admits. “I love shoes and would spend all the money I had on them if I could. I chose a pair that I could walk in on grass and wear post-wedding.”
The bride accessorized with an Erin Cole belt and her mother’s earrings.
The Bridal Bouquet
Ally wanted a large bouquet with lots of greenery, which she got thanks to Sarah Winward’s grouping of peonies, various roses, ferns, and trailing clematis recta vines, wrapped together with pieces of textured silk ribbon in a Champagne hue.
Veiled in Nature
Sarah Winward also made a flower comb of baby roses and ferns for the bride’s hair and attached it to her floor-length veil. The accessory was a gift from Ally’s best friend.
The guys sported boutonnieres made of mock orange blossoms and fern leaves, wrapped with silk trim.
The bridal party consisted of Ally’s two sisters and best friends, all in Jenny Yoo dresses in a variety of shades. Ally’s sisters wore pale pink gowns, while her best friends wore deep lavender. Each of the bridesmaids held smaller versions of Ally’s bouquet.
The groomsmen, all grade-school pals of the groom, wore their own suits with matching Hugo Boss gray silk ties.
The Flower Girls
True Rock Star
The ring bearer, a nephew, carried the bands tied together with a silk ribbon around one of the many rocks used throughout the wedding.
“We wanted our ceremony to be short and sweet and for our friends to have fun in a relaxing environment,” Ally says. The couple recited self-penned vows and asked Professor Jeff Metcalf, a family friend, to officiate. Despite a microphone malfunction during the ceremony, Ally still calls it a perfect day. “We felt so elated and grateful,” she says.
The ceremony aisle was loaded with garden-like long arrangements filled with ferns, cosmos, delphinium, and foxglove. The altar was low and simple, so as not to compete with the beautiful backdrop of trees. Low arrangements surrounded Ally and Adam in a semicircle for the front of the aisle, with clustered tall potted foxglove plants around them.
The Guest Book
Partygoers wrote kind words for the bride and groom and hung them from a wishing tree with a rock base and gold wiring designed by Ken Phillips.
Rocks, Rocks, Everywhere
Ally and Adam forewent the traditional escort “card” and instead opted to use rocks with each guest’s name and seating assignment calligraphed on top by Juliette Lanvers. Flat stones had been gathered by the couple’s floral designer, who set them on the table in rows, among delphinium, ferns, and cosmos. The guests took the stones home at the end of the night as a keepsake.
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails and tapas on the back patio, taking in views of the koi pond and garden while the couple took pictures nearby. A “Cucumber Smash,” the signature drink made by the bartenders at Pago, the couple’s favorite restaurant, kept invitees refreshed.
With the help of Scott Evans, the owner of Pago, food at the reception was served family-style. The meal began with a watermelon salad, followed by gnocchi, chicken roulade, and steak. “We love the farm-to-table concept,” Ally says. “Adam and I are obsessed with food and chose dishes with a Spanish influence,” like the country’s sparkling wine, Cava, a bottle of which was on each table.
Half of the tables featured natural linen runners with bud vases of ferns flanking centerpieces with a variety of roses, spirea, trailing clematis vines, and astilbe.
The other tables were adorned with slabs of flagstone holding platters of food and garlands of ferns extending down the middle. Each place setting was also topped with a fern. Overall, the reception setup was intended to feel as natural as possible to suit the surroundings.
The couple danced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. to “At Last,” originally by Etta James.
The simple three-tiered vanilla bean-, lemon-, and mocha-flavored cake was a creation brought to life by the Pago restaurant pastry chef. A combination of blooming rose vines and ferns decorated the cake and carried the theme to the very end of the night.
Photography: Leo Patrone Photography
Event Design and Planning: Michelle Leo Events
Catering and Cake: Pago
Flowers: Sarah Winward of Sarah Winward Floral
Videography: Nate Pickett Films
Calligrapher: Juliette Lanvers of Chickpea Sewing Studio
Entertainment: Joe Muscolino Band
Rentals: Diamond Rental
Hair: Kali Chris Hair & Makeup
Makeup: Kristen Packard Makeup Artist