A Vietnamese-American Wedding at Grand 1858 Space at Minnesota Event Centers in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sally Hopper (34 and a college professor) and Danny Ngo (32 and an HR analyst) met online when Sally was intrigued by Danny’s profile photos. “I thoug

Sally Hopper (34 and a college professor) and Danny Ngo (32 and an HR analyst) met online when Sally was intrigued by Danny’s profile photos. “I thought Danny was cute enough on his own, but the fact that he included a picture of frolicking corgis with his photos made me think he could be amazing,” Sally says. They exchanged messages for a month before meeting in person at the Herkimer in Uptown Minneapolis. “I scheduled our first date after my Minnesota Roller Girls practice, so I had an excuse in case my face got too hot from nervousness,” she says. Their meet-up was a smashing success, leading to dating, a proposal, a two-year engagement and a wedding at Grand 1858 Space at Minneapolis Event Centers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They picked the space—with its rustic wooden beams and brick walls—for its raw beauty, its location on St. Anthony Main near the Mississippi River and its versatility (including the venue’s willingness to work with an outside caterer). Sally, the ultimate planner, took charge of the wedding details, joking that their theme was “romantic and thrifty.” She created the artwork for the invitation suite, personalized her wedding heels with comics, altered her Goodwill gown, and crafted a custom card box. Her biggest achievement, though, was folding 2,300 paper cranes—over the course of two years—for the ceremony backdrop “to be surrounded in color for the ceremony,” Sally says, adding that one of Danny's happiest childhood memories was folding paper cranes with his mom. The couple had a separate ceremony at Danny’s parents’ home in honor of his Vietnamese heritage earlier in the day, then celebrated at the venue later, complete with a traditional 10-course Vietnamese course, an abundance of colorful paper cranes, a live Vietnamese band, a DJ, a string quartet, New York-style cheesecake and cookies depicting the couple holding their beloved corgi (Bumi) as favors. They even planned an “almost happened” willow tree unity ceremony, collecting soil (in jars) from important places in their lives so they could add it to a willow tree seedling. Unfortunately, Danny forgot to bring the jars to the altar, so they skipped it. Sally and Danny effectively blended two cultures and wedding traditions while keeping their celebration lighthearted. “We drew a lot of inspiration from Wes Anderson’s 'The Royal Tenenbaums,' one of our favorite movies,” Sally says. Not a lot of pomp and circumstance but plenty of personalization, whimsy and quirky and wonderful details. —Chrissy Sorenson

Sally drew the cartoon of the couple on the invitations. She also created the invitations, direction cards, RSVPs, menu cards, programs and seating chart. The couple saved money by printing the invitations and contents themselves. They also die-cut their own pocket envelopes and embossed them at Anchor Paper in Roseville, Minnesota.
Sally’s original engagement ring is a delicate vintage floral filigree with a small diamond in the center of a dahlia. “The ring is over 100 years old and beautiful,” she says. Her other ring came from Danny’s side of the family, a cultural tradition. During the Vietnamese wedding ceremony, Danny's mother gifted Sally a five-diamond engagement ring and wedding band that goes back multiple generations. “I feel extremely honored to be able to wear it the rest of my life,” Sally says.
Sally made her unique shoes with Mod Podge, glitter and Bat Girl comics. “With my dress being so traditional, I thought I’d have a little piece of my nerdiness shine through with my shoes,” she says. (She practiced walking in them for weeks to avoid tripping down the aisle.)
Sally wanted to cover her sleeve-length tattoos but disliked the wedding jackets and boleros she found. “I thought, ‘What about a cardigan?’ Pinupgirlclothing.com had a perfect cropped cardigan for less than $30,” she says. She bought her designer gown secondhand and sewed a piece of blue ribbon into her dress in honor of her grandmother, who became ill before the wedding and couldn't attend.
A fan of classic vintage style, Sally thought victory curls or pompadour bangs might be too much for her wedding day, so she went with her hairdresser’s suggestion of marcel waves, popular in the roaring twenties. “I felt like a thick Ava Gardner, and I loved it,” she says.
Danny wore a classic suit with a red bow tie and pocket square to match Sally's bright red cardigan and the bridesmaid gowns.
“I got seven incredibly beautiful bouquets for less than some women pay for one,” Sally says.
The six bridesmaids wore vintage A-line red dresses from Pinupgirlclothing.com. “I wanted them to be comfortable, spend less than $100 and have a beautiful dress that they could wear again,” Sally says.
It took Sally two years to fold 2,300 paper cranes, resulting in a colorful, affordable backdrop for the celebration.
Sally made the seating chart by painting flowers on a large canvas, then attaching rows of table numbers and table assignments with clothes line and mini clothespins.
More than 2,300 paper cranes were strung onto twine and hung from a homemade birch arch.
Sally decorated a card box with photos of the couple and a colorful "Cards" sign.
Vietnamese silk lanterns were hung from the ceiling and paper cranes were added to the tables for splashes of color in the large venue, Grand 1858 Space at Minnesota Event Centers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tablescape decor included votive candles hand-painted in rose gold glitter and rose petals submerged in hurricane vases.
Sally and Danny's meal included appetizers, a 10-course Asian meal, cheesecake and pizza served during the dance.
Cookies depicting the couple and their pet corgi were the only wedding items Danny expressed genuine excitement about, so “we had to get them,” Sally says.
Sally and Danny showed their fun-loving personalities with a superhero cake topper of Batman's and Catwoman's silhouettes.
“Create an overall budget, then pick three things that are must-haves. For us, it was a great photographer, live music and cheesecake,” Sally says. “There are so many cool things you can incorporate into your ceremony and reception, but if you try to do it all, you might go insane just before you go bankrupt. Keep it as simple as you can, and focus on your top three.”