Russell + Carol

A Fusion (Vietnamese + American)

A Touch of Culture

The Bride and Groom: American-born Russell Clifton served in the US Military as part of the United States Air Force and his family is from the Midwest Kansas area. The beautiful bride Carol Thuy Bui (American Vietnamese) is a successful entrepreneur and a massage therapist who practices the beautiful and sensual art of belly dancing. Carol’s family were originally from Vietnam but settled in Virginia, US.

This lovely wedding was a harmonious blend of Vietnamese culture including the traditional Vietnamese Tea Ceremony and cultural dress and the timeless American dream of pride in family, home, and country, as well as a unique reflection of the couple’s own personality and tastes.

Seven Ivory Brides Vietnamese Wedding Reception

The Celebration

Ceremony : The Wedding Gardens:  This moving ceremony took place in River Farm, Alexandria. With 25 acres of landscaped lawns and glorious gardens, River Farm is one of the premier gardening destinations in the Washington DC Area. The wedding ceremony was held near a serene meadow in a splendid River Farm garden. This gorgeous location was the perfect spot for many beautiful post-ceremony photos with family and friends. The weather cooperated perfectly for this outdoor event.

Seven Ivory Brides Vietnamese Wedding Ceremony


  • Fantasy Theme: Seven Ivory Brides thinks that every fantastic wedding we work on has an element of fantasy. With a Game of Thrones theme for the ceremony, this wedding in particular was an extremely exciting and intriguing event. Cello players played the Game of Thrones music as the wedding party walked through the aisle. The wedding recitation and vows were done in a fun Game of Thrones style.
  • Ring Bearers: Ring bearers are always cute but this wedding took that cuteness to an entirely different level. Russell and Carol’s two treasured dogs acted as their ring bearers. Dressed to impress, the male ring bearer sported a fashionable bow tie around his neck. The female ring bearer opted for a tiny and very sexy flowery band.
  • Exotic Style – Rich Color : The marvelous wedding ceremony décor was in Moroccan style. Russell wanted to surprise Carol with plenty of color – and he did not disappoint – neither did Seven Ivory Brides. Carol was thrilled with Russell’s colorful idea as well as our part in bringing the colors to life for their spectacular ceremony. Seven Ivory Brides organized all the arrangements and decorations for this awesome wedding.

Seven Ivory Brides wedding decoration fusion wedding


The memorable reception took place at the China Garden restaurant banquet hall in Rosslyn, Arlington.

  • Vietnamese Tea Ceremony : Reception started with a traditional tea ceremony, a formal tea party is a traditional feature of a Vietnamese wedding. In modern times, couples might choose variations of this age-old practice. Yet the basic principles and beliefs behind this ancient ceremony are still present at contemporary events. The Vietnamese tea ceremony follows the “Asking of Permission” to receive the bride. The purpose of the tea giving is to bring two families together with the union of the new couple.
  • With the traditional Vietnamese wedding, the bride and groom in the presence of all their family and friends serve tea to their parents. Their parents then take turns to give their blessing and advice about marriage and family to the couple as well as newlywed gifts in a red gift box. Red, the dominant color in a traditional Vietnamese wedding, is believed to bring good luck and a rosy future to the happy couple.
  • The pouring of tea is repeated to the other family members starting with the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and finally, siblings. The females involved in the tea ceremony were wearing Ao dais or dresses. An Ao dai is a traditional long-sleeved tunic worn over silk pants.
  • Reception Speeches : Following Vietnamese tradition, after the tea ceremony there were well-thought-out and well-executed speeches from family members. Russell’s darling father gave a most emotional and touching speech.
  • Reception Party: After the speeches, the mingling at the reception was most enjoyable for all. Seven Ivory Brides had the privilege of spending some time with Russell’s family. Definitely, new-found friends!

Two sensual highlights stood out at the reception party – and Seven Ivory Brides enjoyed both.

wedding dance performance vietnamese bride belly dancing

Naked Wedding Cake - Seven Ivory BridesFirst, Carol’s outstanding wedding belly dance performance captured everyone’s attention and admiration. The dance was a super surprise for the guests. They were just mesmerized by her extraordinary skillful performance. She danced like an Egyptian queen – a beautiful and graceful vision.

The second highlight of the reception was the luscious Naked Cake. The lack of frosting is easily made up for in this cake’s awesomeness. A delicious chocolate dream layered-creation filled with fresh raspberry and fragrant vanilla sauce! The stunning flower decoration turned this wedding cake into a towering masterpiece. Our team thought this beauty was the most gorgeous Naked Cake we had ever seen – and we can confirm that its taste equaled its appearance.

Fabulous Fun

One of the most fun elements of this wedding also had an emotional angle to it. Seven Ivory Brides thought that choosing a Game of Thrones theme was an exceptionally fun approach. Of course, since “Game of Thrones” was connected to the ceremony, it also reflected the most touching moments of this wedding.

Meeting The Challenge

Seven Ivory Brides planned and coordinated this special wedding over a nine-month period and our planning team was handling the planning details – long-distance style with regular online meetings. And this was no ordinary “long distance” – we are talking Afghanistan/United States in this instance. When we started talking with this amazing couple, Russell was deployed to Afghanistan. Seven Ivory Brides communicated with him through Skype.

Our team is well-equipped for this type of wedding planning as Seven Ivory Brides is always thinking and acting “outside the box.” The bottom line is that our clients are our top priority and we always pull out all the stops to make our clients’ dreams come true in reality.

Our team was proud of how we were able to help Russell and Carol despite the unusual circumstances. This wedding planning event was a very positive and encouraging episode in our company. Seven Ivory Brides is inspired to know that our team proved how we can overcome all types of challenges and provide the ultimate experience for our clients.

Russell got back to the US six months before the wedding; the couple was still living in Seattle – and  Seven Ivory Brides was here in the Washington area. Yet that distance was a “piece of cake” for our wedding planners who had already been handling the details with Russell in far away Afghanistan. The bride and groom came to the Washington DC area in the week before the wedding.

Clients’ feedback -We worked with Sever Ivory Brides for 9 months of planning. We did not live in the city where we held our wedding so having them there helped us so much. They worked perfectly to help us still well under budget and still make our wedding and reception beautiful and run smoothly. They were so much fun to work with and easy to talk with. Thank you so much for a wonderful wedding.”

Behind The Scenes

We had a little last-minute change the morning of this wedding. Until an hour before the ceremony, the plan was to hold the rituals at the Arch in the garden. With just 60 minutes left to the ceremony, the couple requested a change of ceremony location to near the meadow area.

Seven Ivory Brides’ answer – just our usual – “No problem! Let’s do this for our client!

Our team did all the arranging and re-arranging resulting in an error-free and smooth transition. The couple was very pleased with the new location and look of the ceremony. That’s just what our company vision is all about – our clients.

Favorite Moments

OK, two of our favorite moments…Carol’s hypnotic and flawless dance performance…and our Seven Ivory Brides team just can’t forget that magnificent and mouthwatering Naked Cake.

Lasting Inspiration

Seven Ivory Brides would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the tremendous significance in this fusion American/Vietnamese wedding as well as the amazing couple who inspired us over the nine months we worked with them – and beyond. Our team was honored to be part of the coming together of two different cultures and families into one lovely fusion of beauty, grace, and love.

“Be thankful for the beautiful moment.  

Be thankful for the gift of today.  

Be thankful for how far you have reached.” 

― Lailah Gifty Akita