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Meaningful ways to honor family and cultural traditions at your wedding 

March 26, 2024



A couple rest their foreheads together with closed eyes while wearing traditional red ao gam and ao dai (Vietnamese wedding attire)

My favorite weddings to document are those that have meaning woven into the fabric and intention at their core. Read on to learn how Adam and Angela decided to honor their family’s religious and cultural traditions for their spring wedding with a traditional Catholic ceremony, a Vietnamese tea ceremony and American reception.

The wedding took place at the Cathedral of the Assumption, arguably one of the most stunning cathedrals in the city, located in the heart of Downtown Louisville. The church was more vibrant than usual, with red streamers hanging from the ornate ceiling for Pentecost – a lucky coincidence, because red is also the color that symbolizes love, luck and passion in Vietnamese culture.

Angela shared a quiet first look with her father before the ceremony. It was apparent how moving this moment was for both of them, how proud Angela’s father is of her, and how much he loves her. Sharing this memorable time together was the first of many meaningful traditions on this wedding day.

The bride's father shakes his new son-in-law's hand as he leaves his daughter to her new husband

After much anticipation, Angela beamed as she and her father walked down the aisle towards Adam. The bride was a vision in her simple, yet elegant crepe gown and long veil. The couple smiled and sneaked glances at each other as the priest shared stories of their journey together as a couple. Participating in a traditional Catholic wedding was important for both the couple and their families, so they chose relatives to give readings, play the piano, and sing during their ceremony.

A golden tea kettle sits in a tray with gifts wrapped in red cellophane

After their ceremony, guests traveled to 3rd Turn Oldham Gardens, which was beautifully covered in green vines in the peak of spring. Angela and Adam made time for an outfit change, because next up was another time-honored tradition for Angela’s family: a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony.

A table filled with framed images of Adam and Angela’s ancestors formed the backdrop for their second ceremony. Relatives approached the table to see the faces of their loved ones in photographs before taking their seats.

Adam wore a traditional red ao gam with a gold dragon across the front, as he carried a tray with a tea set for this special tradition. His parents led the way, followed by Adam and his siblings until they reached the altar.

Angela looked radiant in her traditional red ao dai (dress) and khan dong (hat), and her mother accompanied her to the altar smiling from ear to ear.

The newlyweds lit two candles that represent the unity of both families in front of the photos of the ancestors.

The bride and groom laugh

They then exchanged handwritten vows with each other and both were visibly emotional as they expressed their deep love and gratitude for having found each other.

Next, the Vietnamese tea ceremony – the couple approached each set of parents and poured them a cup of tea. In this tradition, the oldest family member is served first out of respect. They each gave a speech to thank their parents for their love and the ways they have cared for them throughout their lives. 

It’s beautiful how two very distinct traditions both reflect a common value: love and respect for family, a value Adam and Angela both clearly share. 

Now that both families have become one, it’s time to celebrate! We took wedding party photos with Angela and Adam’s friends in the open field behind 3rd Turn – this group was so fun!

3rd Turn Oldham Gardens is a wonderful reception venue – the weather was perfect and all the guests enjoyed being outdoors together. A live band played bluegrass music while guests enjoyed cocktail hour.

A three piece band plays guitar, banjo and cello at a cocktail hour outdoors under string lights

The couple thought of every guest – they had an Instax camera so guests could take photos for their wedding book, bubbles for the young kids (and older ones, too), and there was a photo booth for later!

The newlyweds stand with their parents as they give a thank you speech

After thank you speeches, cake cutting, and the traditional father-daughter and mother-son dances, the guests danced the night away under the open air and string lights.

I hope you enjoyed seeing more of this beautiful union of two families, filled with meaningful cultural traditions and lots of love.

Planning and coordination | Big Day Events

Ceremony | Cathedral of the Assumption

Reception | 3rd Turn Oldham Gardens

A photo of Johanna (owner of Frames and Letters Photography)

Johanna Hribal is a wedding photographer based in Louisville, Kentucky. She enjoys traveling to other states and countries for weddings and elopements whenever possible! People love her colorful and vibrant edits and the way she captures their love in a natural and non-intrusive way. Click here to visit her website to learn more about current wedding collections. Follow me on Instagram to see more engagement sessions, weddings I’ve been photographing!

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