Exactly eight years after they first met at a Secret Santa gift-exchange party, Johnny Van planned another Secret Santa gift exchange at the very same location. “Johnny made a book and inside it stated, ‘Tonight I hope you say yes, to give me the opportunity to be your one and only,’” shares Anina Pham. He also posed the question, “Will you marry me?” with a yes, no, and maybe for his beloved to circle. Of course, she said yes!
Wanting to exchange vows on 10.10.2020, Anina and Johnny worked with their wedding planner, Angela Smith, to choose a venue and vendors who were available on their dream wedding date. Thankfully, despite some setbacks due to wedding planning during the pandemic, they secured a gorgeous venue with a view of the bay for their reception, which would follow the ceremony at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. “Being South Tampa natives, we felt at home at Tampa Garden Club along Bayshore Boulevard,” adds Anina.
Attendees were first introduced to the fête’s romantic color scheme of white, blush, gold, and greenery by way of invitations from Minted and Zazzle – who also provided the paper goods for the event, including signage that adorned a sanitizing station, instructed guests to wear a mask when leaving the ballroom, and other highlights of the necessary Covid procedures at the time.
Anina and her bridesmaids got ready for the big day at Le Méridien Tampa, with hair and makeup provided by Destiny and Light Salon. When it came time to travel to the church for a traditional Catholic ceremony, the bride impressed attendees in an ethereal off-the-shoulder gown by Miss Stella York from White Closet Bridal; she made her way down the aisle in chic Jimmy Choo heels and carried a full bouquet of blooms in blush and ivory. Bridesmaids were elegant in floor-length gowns with ruffle straps from Azazie, and Johnny and his groomsmen were handsome in Perry Ellis tuxedos for the nuptials.
Following the vow exchange, friends and family made their way to the reception venue for dinner and dancing. They found their seats at round tables decorated with high and low centerpieces composed of lush white and blush roses accented with greenery by Blooming Flower & Art. Golden stands and vessels displayed the blooms, which complemented the gold-backed guest chairs topped with vanilla-toned cushions. The couple’s sweetheart table was decorated with a garland of greenery that fell gracefully down to the floor, where floating candles in hurricane vases created a romantic ambience.
To create an experience for friends and family different from many weddings they had likely attended, loved ones were served a family-style dinner featuring an eight-course Vietnamese menu from Hao Wah. With their palates more than satisfied, the newlyweds and their guests celebrated into the night as Bay Kings Band, a nine-piece live band, entertained everyone. A photo booth was also provided and served as take-home favors, and slices of the three-tier vanilla buttercream Publix cake filled with strawberry and cannoli flavorings, which was adorned with fresh florals in ivory, peach, and pink, was enjoyed.
To end the special night, Johnny requested to have the band play “Here Tonight” by Brett Young as the last song played. An ode to the romantic lyrics, he wanted to “stay here in this minute” with his new wife and have her feel like they were “underneath the stars” beneath the string lights. With happy memories from their incredible day, the couple and their loved ones were filled with heartwarming joy from such a beautiful celebration. “Everyone is still talking about the amazing food and how fun the band was!” adds the bride of their dream wedding.