VYVYJANE PHUONG & REED SENGEL
Vyvyjane and Reed were both born and raised in Fort Smith, but they didn’t cross paths until their senior year of high school when Vyvy was randomly placed in the same math class as Reed.
“That summer before school I had briefly moved to Oregon with my mom, but quickly realized I wanted to graduate with the peers I've always known,” Vyvy said. “Because I moved back after the semester had already started, I was scheduled where there was availability. Lo and behold, that is where mine and Reed's story began!”
Vyvy realized early on in their relationship that Reed was the one because he made her feel safe, comfortable and seen. However, witnessing his interactions with her family sealed the deal.
“As a first-generation Vietnamese-American, respect for elders is something that has always been deeply ingrained in our overall culture, but more so emphasized due to growing up in a different country than my ancestors,” Vyvy said. “Reed's patience with the obvious language barrier amongst my great uncles and aunties, his commitment towards respectful gestures and his interest in our different foods and customs truly showed me how genuine our love is.”
In Fall 2020, the couple took an impromptu trip to their family’s cabin in Colorado. After spending the day kayaking and exploring the outdoors, they had dinner reservations at a nice restaurant in Boulder. On the drive there, Reed suggested stopping at an overlook to enjoy the scenery. She remembers being irritated that she was wearing heels and Reed kept insisting they continue further up the mountain. While taking in the view, Reed stopped a passerby to take a photo of them with Vyvy’s phone. However, she suggested using his phone because of the better camera.
“We posed for a few shots on my phone, but as he reached into his jacket to grab his phone I quickly realized he wasn't pulling out a phone, but a small little box. Needless to say, I was shocked and overwhelmed with all of the emotions!” Vyvy said. “The random passerby happened to be a professional photographer that Reed hired and her partner was near the area taking pictures of the entire exchange. When we arrived at our dinner reservation I noticed all of the small details Reed arranged. A bottle of champagne was waiting on us along with a customized menu with a congratulatory message. It was the perfect evening!”
WEDDING VENDORS WE LOVE
Emma Farr Photography
Design, Planning and Coordination
Rentals: Party Pro Rentals; Ceremony venue: First United Methodist Church of Fort Smith; Reception venue: U.S. Marshals Museum; Catering and wait staff: Chef Brooks Catering; DJ: DJ Ty Walker; Paper and signage: Dayflower Designs; Phone guest book: Spark Weddings & Events
Q & A
Q: What was your favorite moment of the day?
A: “It’s so hard to choose a favorite moment from the day, but I would say our first look is my favorite memory hands down. Given that we had been together for an entire decade at the time of the wedding, I was not used to not being able to see him nor communicating much with him to start my day. He is the person I share literally everything with, big or small. I just couldn’t wait to see him and show him my dress, hair and makeup, basically, I just couldn’t wait to tell him how much I missed him. The minute we laid eyes on each other I was completely taken over by feelings of joy and excitement. Reed’s lip quivered and he began sobbing, and that truly did it for me.”
Q: What traditions from your cultures did you incorporate into your wedding day?
A: “We prioritized time into the reception schedule to incorporate an important Vietnamese wedding custom called chào bàn, which translates into table greeting. This includes the bride and groom making rounds to each table to show respect and gratitude. A guest from each table typically offers words of wisdom and cheers along with a shot of liquor. Reed and I were able to change into traditional Vietnamese wear called áo dài, which extended an extra nod towards my culture. I loved that we were able to do this as it ensured us an opportunity to speak to every single guest in attendance. Our non-Vietnamese guests embraced this notion and it surprised me to hear how many really enjoyed getting to be a part of a custom from a different culture.”
Q: What do you wish you had known before starting the planning process?
A: “It was honestly shocking to me the amount of details that go into wedding planning. Beforehand, I knew there would be things I wouldn't typically think of such as type of flatware, design and texture of table linens, so on and so forth, but I had no idea that there was such a variety of shades for font color on invitations or the different types of candles and vases. The list goes on! Realizing the amount of planning it takes made me even more grateful towards JLK Weddings and the collaboration with our amazing vendors.”
Q: Tell us about your wedding dress!
A: “Seriously, the dress of my dreams! It's an Allure bridal gown and the sweet girls from Tesori in Fayetteville, AR helped me pick it out and style it. I had a screenshot of this gown prior to my appointment but went in with an open mind as I was advised by many friends that you often go with the dress you least expect. I tried on so many beautiful dresses that day and truly loved little aspects from each and every one, but I did not want to take off the Allure gown once I had it on. The style was soft and romantic, the layers of tulle had a shimmer that was stunning, but the detailed lace all over the dress and all down/around the hem of the train left me speechless. The waistline was flattering and the off the shoulders corset top added to it all. Wearing the gown was magical and I'm so grateful I was able to preserve it and keep it forever!”
Q: Why did you pick your venue?
A: “We ultimately decided on the U.S. Marshals Museum due to the combination of its location and unique exterior,” Vyvy said. “The building was beautifully designed with large windows that allowed for beautiful views and natural light. With it being located on the riverfront of downtown Fort Smith it just made perfect sense. Fort Smith is home and always has been home for us. Fort Smith holds a huge significance for both sides of our families and even generations before them.”
SECRET TO WEDDING PLANNING SUCCESS
“Two words: JLK Weddings! I am not exaggerating when I say Jessica Kersey and her team were phenomenal. They made everything seamless and stress-free. They were also so accommodating and kind, not just to us as the bride and groom, but to our families, wedding party, and guests.”
“I am not ashamed to say the florals were inspired [by] Bridgerton. I was obsessed with the series when it first came out and I just loved the entire aesthetic. Dale from Silks-A-Bloom is a complete visionary. He revisited the project multiple times to adjust it according to our budget and preferences. His team spent hours creating the most gorgeous installments. Our guests still talk about our florals to this day.”