It was love at first hola. Amber and Ricardo met on Bumble in February 2020 and had their first date hiking a cave in Taiwan. “Although I was skeptical that Ricardo didn’t have a single photo without sunglasses, I swiped right and it was a match.” Amber remembers.
Three years into their relationship, the couple took a lavish vacation to Vietnam for Chinese New Year where they fell in love with the friendly staff, dreamy villas, and upscale dining. “Vietnam won our hearts for being one of the budget-friendly wedding destinations, and it’s a dreamy blend of beauty and culture,” Amber says. “The moment we stepped into Amaya Retreat, we instantly knew that this was the place we wanted to say ‘I do’. Hiking together on our first date sparked our love for the outdoors, and this enchanted forest delivered flawlessly.”
In October 2023, love bloomed at this exotic dreamy backdrop of a destination with Wed in Style‘s special touch as Amber and Ricardo hosted their grand 6-day wedding, inviting just 42 guests for this exclusive, luxurious celebration.
Day 1: Chillin’ and Grillin’ at the BBQ Pool Bash
Amber and Ricardo kicked off their wedding weekend with a sensational BBQ dinner that left all of their international guests seriously spoilt for choice. “Our guests came from every corner of the globe, and we wanted a grand welcome that was both fun and friendly.” The couple shares. “So, we fired up the barbecue and dove headfirst into a pool party. It was the ultimate icebreaker.” Beef fuji skewers, Phu Quoc green peppers, oysters, mango & shrimp salad, salted egg fried rice, and a dazzling array of exotic sauces were just the beginning.
From start to finish, the welcome party was everything the duo could have asked for: “As soon as you arrive at the pool, you’re instantly taken aback by the perfect view of the vibrant tropical green colors from the natural background. That coupled with the string lights the exotic food setup looked so dreamy the moment we stepped into the party,” Amber says.
As the party continued, it only got better: The night was still young, and a heated infinity pool awaited, along with a cash bar serving up delectable cocktails.
Day 2: Enchanting Wedding Day Bliss Among the Trees
The most anticipated day had finally arrived. Amber and her bridesmaids prepared for the big day at the Dreamy Earth Villa as Lili’s team glammed everyone up with gorgeous hairdos and makeup. From a breathtaking villa with an infinity pool, bridesmaids adorned in pink robes, and glasses brimming with unlimited champagne, it was as picture-perfect as Amber had envisioned.
“Hollywood glam – 40s and 50s style particularly, inspired my hair and makeup. Curls, golden eyes, and red lips with a short veil was my vision,” Amber says. “This also influenced my choice for the party dress with my second look, a practical tea-length design for easy movement. I wanted that Marvelous Mrs. Maisel vibe, elegant and dance-friendly.”
As the guests entered the venue, they were greeted by tropical green trees and retro antique-style decor, surrounded by regal dark red colors to accent the beauty of the forest. “I initially envisioned rustic burnt orange and gold decor but fell in love with the forest’s elegance.” Amber says. Antique picture frames, candles, feathers, and chandeliers beautifully complemented the dark red and sage green theme.
The duo created a delightful corner at their wedding, equipped with an Instax camera for guests to snap joyful memories. This spot was charmingly decorated with their portraits and traditional Vietnamese fans, offering a cool respite from the warmth of Vietnam and adding a touch of cultural elegance to their special day.
Amber chose to walk down the aisle solo to a soft acoustic cover of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”. She dazzled in an exquisite white dress, intricately adorned with lace flowers, captivating everyone’s gaze with its elegant charm. Love filled the air as the groom’s favourite part unfolded: the match made in heaven enchanted their vows, which they wrote on their own and incorporated inside jokes, promises, and some intimate memories that had their loved ones in tears.
The bridesmaids were asked to wear burgundy-colored dresses to match the forest theme. Amber shares, “Burgandy is such a bold color and I thought it would beautifully complement the greenery of our wedding venue.”
As the sun dipped below the horizon, the magical celebration continued with a cocktail hour brimming with exotic dried fruit and free-flowing cocktails as guests gathered around the enchanted forest bar. From Saigon Beer and daiquiris to exotic non-alcoholic options like guava juice, there was something for everyone. Every guest was also treated to a complimentary margarita.
Amber opted for a chic tea-length wedding dress for her second look of the evening, perfect for twirling and dancing the night away with ease. She made her grand entrance with Ricardo at the reception to The Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody” to set the vibe. Then, Ricardo led Amber to the dance floor for their first dance, set to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” This was the bride’s favorite part since they had practiced for countless hours and could finally show it to everyone.
“I was inspired by Bridgerton, watching all those beautiful dances with classical music.”
The wedding entertainment had a little something for everyone: a quiz to test how well guests knew the couple, a laughter-inducing ‘Mad Libs’ story, and the entertaining ‘Shoe Game’ that had everyone laughing so hard that they cried.
Dinner was an exquisite blend of Western and Vietnamese cuisine, featuring snow mushroom seafood soup, crispy Vietnamese crepes with shrimp, papaya salad, braised eggplant tofu, and many more tantalizing dishes. “Food was a big deal for us. We had to cater to different dietary needs, including vegetarians, gluten-free, my pescatarian preference, and Ricardo’s shrimp allergy.” The bride says. “Plus, we couldn’t resist adding a signature dessert that’s a must in Vietnamese weddings– coconut jelly!”
The cake-cutting ceremony with a rustic cake perfectly suited the enchanted forest theme. Their cake from Something Sweet was a blend of Western style with a rustic touch. “Ricardo loves chocolate, so we went for a Nutella layer,” Amber tells us. “And I’m a sucker for a good salted caramel cake with vanilla buttercream, so it was just a match made in dessert heaven.” The cake adventure had its twists – their original bakery bailed on the couple just a week before the wedding, but Amber’s planner worked her magic and found them a fantastic replacement at the last minute.
After dinner, guests moved to the outdoor patio where they took in views of the stars as the party kicked into high gear from 8 pm onwards, with a rave-style dance party under a starlit sky filled with glowing LED lights.
Day 3: Embracing Authenticity on a Thrilling Vespa Tour in Hanoi
As an adventure couple, Amber and Ricardo couldn’t resist having a destination wedding without a bit of adventure. “We wanted to make the most of our time with the guests, so we decided on the Vespa tour instead of the typical bus or van because it was an opportunity for our guests to experience vibrant Hanoi in an authentic and adventurous way.” The bride expresses. “Plus the tour company, Lily’s Travel Agency, helped some guests with their visas – a win-win.”
Vespas are the iconic heartbeat of Hanoi’s streets, and the wedding party joined the locals for a ride through the bustling city. Amidst the French-style architecture and vibrant culture, the tour showcased the beauty and authenticity of Hanoi. Famous spots like Train Street, Banana Island, and St. Joseph Cathedral were just some of the sights that left the guests in awe.
The Vespa tour wrapped up with a mouthwatering feast at a nearby restaurant, where they served up delectable local dishes that left everyone craving for more.
Day 4: Kickstarting The Luxurious Cruise Journey
If there’s one thing Amber and Ricardo love, it’s a good boat party. And they thought, what better way to kickstart their honeymoon in Vietnam? “It started with Ricardo’s family and a friend wanting to join, and we thought, ‘Why not open it up to everyone and make it a fun group party cruise for the entire wedding party?”
“With friends and family flying in from faraway places like the States and El Salvador, we didn’t want the celebration to end after just a few wedding days, knowing that it could be years before we could see some of our friends again.”
From the moment the guests boarded Peony Cruises, they were welcomed with fresh watermelon juice and warm towels, setting the tone for a lavish experience in the emerald-green waters of the bay. The accommodations were nothing short of breathtaking, with private balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and even a bathtub with a view of Ha Long Bay from each luxury ensuite cabin. As the guests set sail for Ha Long Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful bays, the breathtaking scenery unfolded. “It was magical, to say the least.” Amber shares.
The ship’s first stop was at Tra Bau, known for its unspoiled, picture-perfect natural charm and the kind of seascape that Instagram dreams are made of. The guests channeled their inner adventurers, jumping into kayaks and navigating through the breathtaking limestone islands. It was all about getting up close and personal with the emerald-green waters of the bay.
In a spectacular twist, given it was Amber and Ricardo’s honeymoon for the destination wedding crew, the cruise staff rolled out the red carpet and cranked up the enchantment factor during the multiple-course dinner. Lights dimmed as pure fairytale charm filled the air, combined with a little dance number by the staff, and voilà, cocktails were presented for the lovebirds. It ended up being one of the most special moments of the trip for the couple.
Day 5: A Day of Adventure Unfolds on the Cruise
Day five began with Tai Chi, an internal Chinese martial art, as the guests welcomed the sunrise over the bay. A hearty breakfast buffet fueled the guests up for another day of adventure.
“Some guests opted for a day trip boat to explore the tranquil Lan Hong Bay, while others chose to soak in the beauty from the comfort of the cruise. Our day’s highlight was definitely the visit to Viet Hai Village, where some of us cycled and others rode an e-cart through the lush rainforest canopy and towering limestone mountains, immersing ourselves in the local culture.” Amber shares. Following lunch, it was time for a splash of adventure as the guests set sail on kayaks to uncover the hidden treasures of the tranquil lagoon or took a refreshing dip right off the boat.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, a culinary adventure awaited the guests as they dove into a lively cooking class, discovering the secrets behind crafting the beloved Vietnamese delicacy: spring rolls.
When night fell, the guests lived the high life in a rooftop Jacuzzi under a star-studded sky, cocktails in hand. It was pure magic, just like a scene from a Hollywood movie.
Day 6: An Epic Grand Finale on the Cruise
Early in the morning, many guests embarked on a tour of Cat Ba Island, exploring the impressive Trung Trang Cave with its thousands of stalactites. Amber jokes,
“Naturally, the itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a dash of cave exploring, which just so happened to be the cherry on top, recalling our very first date.”
The evening brought everyone back to Hanoi’s city centre, where the wedding party immersed themselves in local culture with a traditional water puppet show. As the night descended, Amber and Ricardo booked a private room for a lively karaoke session with the wedding party, ending the event with a harmonious and spirited note.
Conclusion: An Unforgettable Adventure of a Lifetime
To couples planning their destination wedding, Amber and Ricardo say, “Every choice you make for your destination wedding is like adding a special touch to your love story, so make it shout out yours loud and clear,” They say. “Seize the opportunity to make it a genuine reflection of your journey together.”
Vietnam Destination Wedding Vendors
- Planner: WedinStyle – The Stylish Wedding Planner of Vietnam
- MUA: Lili
- Wedding Cake: Something Sweet
- Wedding Day Photographer: Craig
- Pre and Post Photographer: Friends and Family
- Videographer: Vũ
- Ceremony Venue: Amaya Retreat
- Decoration: WedinStyle – The Stylish Wedding Planner of Vietnam
- Guest Accommodations: Ulesa Resort
- Cruise: Peony Cruises
- Visas: Lily’s travel agency
- Catering: Amaya Retreat
- Florals: Primavera Flower Decor
- Vespa Company: Vietnam Vintage Vespa Tours
- Water Puppet Show: Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
- Karaoke: Sunny Royal