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Botum Bou & Andrew Bennett
August 15, 2008
Easton's Beach, Newport, R.I.

ABOUT THE COUPLE

How they met:
Andrew and Botum met at graduate school, Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English in 2005.

How he proposed:
Andrew proposed on a September Sunday morning in 2009. Andrew and Botum had spent that summer living in a cabin in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Andrew was finishing his master's degree in English at Middlebury at the time. Botum knew that if she could survive a few months living in the woods, with a composting outhouse and outdoor shower, she could live and be with him forever.

Bride's education and occupation: Botum is a graduate of Attleboro High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in English/communications from Salve Regina University in Newport in 2000, and a master's degree in English from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English in 2007. She works for the Watertown Public School System.

Groom's education and occupation: The groom graduated from Friend's Central in Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor's degree in English from Vassar College in New York in 2002, and a master's degree in English from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English in 2009. He is currently enrolled in the Writer's Program for a master of fine arts degree in poetry from Pacific Lutheran University-Rainier, with an expected graduation date of 2013. He works an English teacher in Wellesley.

THE CEREMONY

The ceremony:
Botum was driven to the ceremony site at Easton's Beach with her dad in a classic 1930's beautifully restored Model A Ford convertible on a beautiful sunny and windy Sunday afternoon. For the music, a string quartet played during the ceremony with the ocean and the waves accompanying them. Both Botum's mom and dad walked her down the aisle, which was strewn with white rose petals that blew in the wind. Andrew walked down the aisle with both of his parents as well. Andrew's aunt, Rainya Dann, from Santa Cruz, Calif., performed the ceremony.

The gown:
Botum wore the silk chiffon Whitney gown from J Crew's wedding line. The gown featured a delicate crinkled texture, had a fitted bodice and a slight sweetheart neckline. A sash detail cascaded down the center of the dress. The lightweight nature of the fabric make it look simply breathtaking when blowing in the wind. For the headpiece, Botum wore a veil borrowed from sister, Botin, and simple white gold pearl earrings from Mikimoto borrowed from college roommate and bridesmaid, Hikari Tamura, who flew in from Japan for the long weekend in Newport.

The bridesmaids all wore a strapless navy- or champagne-colored silk taffeta Gracen dresses from J Crew.

The bouquet:
Deb Romano, from the Groden Center in Providence, R.I., incorporated and captured both Botum and Andrew's cultures in all of the flowers of their wedding - from the bouquets to the centerpieces. She used a very eclectic mix of flora including lemongrass, jasmine, hydrangea, tulips and orchids to represent the Cambodian/Asian side of Botum's family blended in with the Pennsylvania Dutch side of Andrew's family. Botum and Andrew pinned purple Dendrobium Orchids on each of their guests to welcome them.

The theme: Andrew was very against the idea of a theme or concept for the wedding. The event was truly a melding of the Cambodian and American culture. We had prayers in both Khmer and English during the ceremony and before the reception. We practiced a somewhat traditional Khmer receiving line, which was actually two lines - one with Botum and her parents and another with andrew and his parents. In the line, guests would come to see the couple before entering the reception area and they would bow then pin purple Dendrodium Orchids on each guest and thank them. During the reception, guests danced traditional Khmer line dances with American style dances. To show the couple's love for natural elements, birch trees were brought in from Truelove Farms in Bethlehem, Conn., and prominently displayed in Easton's Beach Rotunda, and guest place cards were displayed on a table with beds of wheatgrass. The couple's wedding favors even included packets of various vegetable and flower seeds in clay pots.

Family, culture and food was something that Botum and Andrew wanted to showcase and thus they figured giving it a theme would hinder them from what they were really about.

THE WEDDING PARTY

Maid of honor/Best man:
Botum and Andrew chose not to give these titles to any one person in the wedding party. They thought about what it really meant to ask someone to be the maid of honor or best man and realized that it could be a burden for just one person and that others might feel slighted. Instead, they decided to make everyone their maids of honor and best men, and it worked out great. Different people stepped up to plan such events as the bachelor or bachelorette gatherings. The idea was to try to make it stress free for those in the wedding party.

Bridesmaids:
The bridesmaids were Botin Bou-James, sister of the bride; Joleen Bou, sister of the bride; Caroline Dupont Boulay, college friend of the bride; Hikari Tamura, college roommate of the bride; Sarah Calderone, friend of the bride and Deborah Bennett, cousin of the groom.

Junior bridesmaids: The junior bridesmaids were Olivia Bou and Veronica Bou, both cousins of the bride.

Groomsmen:
Ian Bennett, brother of the groom; Kaivon Paroo, high school friend of the groom; Nathan Johnson, graduate school friend of the groom; and Joe Passoni, college friend of the groom.

Flower girl:
The flower girl was Avery James, niece of the bride.

Flower girl escort: Elijah Swerdloff, cousin of the groom.

Ring Bearer: The ring bearer was Dillon James, nephew of the bride.

THE RECEPTION

Number of guests:
150.

The reception:
The Rotunda at Easton's Beach, Newport. Botum attended Salve Regina University, and lived and taught at St. George's School for a number of years, so in addition to loving the ocean and the Ocean State, they decided to have it there.

The cake:
The cake was a four-tiered chocolate cake. Botum and Andrew gave Pranzi Caterers, Andrew's mother's chocolate cake recipe that she uses for special occasions.

First song:
"You are The Best Thing" by Ray Lamontagne. Andrew and Botum took dance lessons in order to prepare for their big first dance together. They say this song was perfect because it not only went with the rhythm and beats of the Latin Sampler dance lessons they were taking, but it also symbolized how they both adore and love each other.

The menu:
Botum and Andrew had the evening's menu displayed on chalkboards near the entrance and bar, so that there would be limited paper waste, and Kathy Brown, the groom's aunt from Bonn, Germany, and Cynthia Bennett, the groom's mother, made seashell place settings for the reception.

The menu was created with love from trying to combine Cambodian wedding traditions and foods that everyone would enjoy. Typical Cambodian weddings include a 13-plus course meal! Because many of the Cambodian foods at traditional weddings are not everyday foods that a caterer would make, the couple gave Pranzi Caterers a Cambodian cookbook, "From Spiders to Water Lilies, Creative Cambodian Cooking with Friends," that they brought back from Cambodia. The proceeds of this cookbook goes to Friends International, a nonprofit organization working in Cambodia to provide education, vocational training and support to homeless children without families. When Andrew and Botum visited, they ate at one of the Friends Restaurants in Phnom Pehn, so they knew that the recipes they chose would be good.

During hors doeuvres, four selections were passed: Baby New Zealand lamb chops with pineapple dipping sauce, cajun shrimp skewers, assorted grilled pizzas, and scallops wrapped in bacon.

The couple wanted to have a family-style dinner because that is the style of Cambodian receptions, plus they wanted their guests to have even more conversations about the food. This was their menu: Marinated grilled steak salad with peanuts, mint, thai basil and green peppers served on a bed of mixed field greens; Cambodian farmer soup with jasmine rice; Fresh herb-marinated grilled chicken; Amok, which is a Cambodian dish of fresh cod fish baked in coconut milk in a banana leaf with fresh ginger and assorted spices with rice; and grilled garden vegetables.

What made the day unique:
Botum says, "The weather." The couple held the wedding outside despite a forecast of a 95 percent chance of showers and it didn't rain. "The wind was a main character in our wedding, for sure," Botum says. Andrew had to literally hold down the arch as the wind was trying to blow it out to sea. The couple also ad-libbed the ceremony despite a very structured, planned ceremony script because the officiant's plans blew away in the wind. Botum also says that the cross-cultural wedding with Cambodian/Khmer and American wedding traditions was very different. "We wanted to honor both sides of the family as well as maintaining our own identity as a couple," she says.

Most touching moment of the day:
There were many touching moments throughout the whole weekend. Nick, Andrew's uncle from Bonn, Germany, made the trip to Newport to sing a capella during the ceremony. Also, the various blessings during the ceremony from the guests was a true surprise! The winds were so intense it was difficult to really hear the string quartet in the beginning, but when Nick, and a few of our guests sang for us, it felt as though the wind subsided just for those moments for us to hear the words and song. Botum also says that the couple saying their own vows, seeing the couple's parents really happy and being surrounded with family and friends, and seeing how moved their families were as the couple expressed their gratitude for them during the rehearsal dinner was also touching.

Honeymoon destination:
Andrew was starting his writing residency during in the summer in Washington state, so they wanted to piggy back on that. They started their honeymoon with a weekend in Nantucket. The following weekend they did some rustic camping in Vermont and New Hampshire. A few days later, they flew to Seattle and drove along the Olympic Peninsula, staying in Port Townsend and Port Angeles, Wash., They visited Olympic and Port Defiance National Parks. They took a ferry to Victoria Island off of Vancouver, British Columbia, and spent the week hiking, kayaking in Tofino and exploring Pacific Rim National Park. We were very fortunate to spread out our honeymoon over the course of our summer.
















Ceremony location:
Easton's Beach, Newport, R.I.

Reception location:
The Rotunda at Easton's Beach, Newport, R.I.

Photographer:
Laura Kozlowski

Cake designer/bakery:
Pranzi Catering, Newport and Providence, R.I.

Caterer:
Pranzi Catering, Newport and Providence, R.I.

Florist/floral designer:
Deb Romano, Groden Center, Providence, R.I.

Hair stylist:
Sokunthea Huot-Rim

Bridal fashions:
J Crew Wedding

Ceremony music:
La Bella Musica String Quartet

DJ or band:
DJ Dana Collins

Officiant:
Rainya Dann, aunt of the groom

Tuxedo shop:
J Crew Wedding