Cecelia Nguyen & Nhan Bui

Cecelia Nguyen & Nhan Bui

Some women never think about what their wedding will look like until they have a ring on their finger.
Cece Nguyen was not one of those women.

“I’ve been planning my wedding since I was 12,” she laughs, confessing in the same breath to filling her Pinterest page with more than one million wedding-related pins. Having read bridal magazines since she was young, she had long ago determined exactly what her nuptials would look like, down to the getaway car. All that was missing was the groom.

Enter Nhan Bui—and some conspiring friends who set them up in January 2013. At the time, both Cece, a pharmacist, and Nhan, an entrepreneur, were in their late 20s and ready to settle down. Instantly drawn in by his smile, Cece also appreciated how much she and Nhan had in common: Both have Vietnamese roots, they attended the same Arlington high school and college, and had lots of mutual friends. They were talking marriage within six months.

In November 2014, Nhan proposed to Cece in front of their families in a traditional Vietnamese engagement ceremony. With the final piece of the puzzle in place, Cece could finally make her wedding-day dreams a reality. Nhan was happy to play a supporting role, letting Cece take the lead. “He knows how I am,” she says. “I’m very particular.”

That level of meticulousness could be a problem for someone who has to rely on other people to execute her vision. Fortunately for Cece, she was able to take matters into her own hands. “I’m pretty crafty,” she says. “And I’d rather do things myself, because I don’t trust anyone to do them as well.”

To that end, Cece produced her own invitations using a template she found online, created all the day-of signage, made the flower girl dresses, and assembled bottles of herb-infused olive oil for favors. On the afternoon of October 10, 2015, as she and Nhan said “I do” before a flower-arched altar at Aristide, she and her bridesmaids even bore bouquets and flower crowns they made themselves.

After the ceremony, the 300 guests noshed on a selection of desserts, including a hand-painted cake, cookies, macarons, cake balls, cupcakes, and green-tea tiramisu. Throughout the course of the evening, they saw Cece don not one but two gorgeous frocks: a ruffled, full-skirted gown and a strapless, fit-and-flare dress she bought just a month before the big day, having always envisioned herself in a mermaid-style gown. (She wore a third, traditional Vietnamese dress during a traditional ceremony at home the day prior.)

But even for a bride as detail-oriented as Cece, her favorite moment of the day was one she didn’t plan. “My favorite part was our ceremony, when we exchanged vows,” she says. “I was really touched by what Nhan wrote, because he’s normally not a romantic guy.”

With sparklers ablaze, the new husband and wife exited and slid into the backseat of a white Rolls-Royce—the very car Cece had envisioned driving away in since she was a girl. “I wish I could do it over again,” she says. “I actually really missed the planning.” –Jessica Otte

Ceremony/Reception Site: Aristide  Event & Conference Center
Photographer/Studio: Ben Q. Photography
Bridal Gown Retailer: Classy Concepts Bridal, Mansfield; David’s Bridal
Hair & Makeup: Mary B. Makeup
Groom’s Attire: Kenneth Cole
Bridesmaids’ Dresses Designer: Custom
Flower Girl Dress Designer: The bride
Flowers: Angelina’s Wedding Center & Florist
Stationery: Zazzle.com
Cake & Desserts: La Belle Vie Bakery
Caterer: ABC Seafood & Dim Sum, Arlington
Band: The Heat
Videographer: Spinning Leaf Films
Wedding Planner: Brittany Robbins