Chris & James: Married in a Vietnamese paradise
Chris and James chose Vietnam for their magical tropical soirée. A wedding boasting bold colour, vivacious laughter, and most of all… true love.
Location Vietnam | Photographer It’s Beautiful Here
How and when did you meet? We met on St Patrick’s Day, 17th March 2015, at the Dancing Dog pub in Footscray. James was living in Footscray and Chris was passing through Melbourne on his way back to Canada after a year travelling in New Zealand – Chris’ sister was living in Footscray at the time. James had been out for dinner with a couple of friends who were emigrating to Canada, they stopped in for a drink afterwards. After some overheard conversations the Canadians joined James and friends for a drink and numbers were then exchanged; there may have also been some kissing.
So who then proposed? Chris proposed. We were both visiting Chris’ family in British Columbia in Canada in August 2016 - they live on a stunning 100-acre property on the edge of a lake. We headed up to a hill overlooking the lake and the property on our last morning to see the sunrise. James was armed with coffee and a bear horn… Chris, with a ring and a surprise.
When was the wedding? 1st August 2018.
Why Vietnam? As we’re both expats (Canada and Ireland), our primary driver was to find a suitable destination where we could bring our friends and family together to celebrate with us.
Chris and James’ story continues below >
During the planning process, where did you find the bulk of your inspiration? Probably Pinterest – our wedding planner helped with ideas on what would work once we had selected the venue. Our location was stunning in itself, so we kept things relatively simple – native flowers and plants, Hoi An lanterns, etc.
How did you choose your suppliers? This was probably the easiest part once we had decided on a destination – we researched online for a wedding planner – we found Hoi An Events online when researching and saw a picture of our friend’s wedding on their website – they got married in Hoi An a few years previously and highly recommended Hoi An Events, so that confirmed our choice. Our wedding planner was fantastic, and so we were happy to go with their recommended suppliers.
One key exception was our photographers – we met Kat and Scout (It’s Beautiful Here) when they shot our friend’s wedding. They did such an incredible job for our friends and are just great people, it was an easy choice.
Similarly, our rings were made by an old friend of James’ from the UK, now based in New Zealand.
Did you find it difficult to translate more common traditions into a ‘same-sex’ wedding? We had a little to think about, but overall, it wasn’t too difficult. For our wedding party we chose the people most important to us – Chris had a best woman, and his 4 sisters, James had a best man and a mixed male/female wedding party. We discussed a few options on walking down the aisle and decided to enter together – we were fortunate that our venue had a great red bridge (after which it’s named) for us to walk across.
We are not religious and so wanted a personal feel to the ceremony. As we were getting married overseas, we had to do the legal side of things in Melbourne, so we had the freedom to ask a mutual friend to conduct the ceremony, something that worked out really well.
What was the most difficult thing about planning your wedding?
1. Finalising the guest list
2. Choosing the destination
3. Helping the guests organise their trip…flight/accommodation advice, reminders on visas, vaccinations, etc.
Where did you spend your honeymoon? We spent 9 days in Vietnam for the wedding, then went onto Borneo and Penang in Malaysia for 3 weeks – a combination of lazing at a beach resort, a week’s diving, visiting an orangutan sanctuary and eating all the amazing street food we could manage in Penang.
And finally, any advice for other same-sex couples planning their wedding and finding it difficult to navigate the journey? Give yourself as much time as you can to plan, it will give you plenty of time to research, work out what you want and what you don’t. We had specific considerations around our guest list from multiple countries and so our hardest part was the initial selection of destination and venue. Our planner took a lot of the pain out of it for us – if manageable in your budget, we would 100% recommend a planner (and one you like). Talk to married friends – we got lots of good advice and tips from recently married friends.