Going the Distance on Their First Date

Beverly Bảo Ngọc Pham and Brett Andrew Lynch did not expect their engagement to go viral on social media. Alas, that’s what happened when they posted their traditional Vietnamese engagement ceremony, which included a procession of their families, an exchange of gifts, permission from their families and an ancestral prayer.

Also following tradition, Ms. Pham’s mother, Lan Phuong Pham, and future mother-in-law, Gwendolyn Lynch, showered the bride with jewelry for her upcoming nuptials and Mr. Lynch gave Ms. Pham her engagement ring. The couple then served ceremonial tea to their parents.

“I come from a family of Vietnamese refugees who immigrated to America after the Vietnam War,” said Ms. Pham, 26, whose middle name means “precious gem” in Vietnamese.

The couple met in March 2021 in Palm Springs, Calif., where Ms. Pham was on vacation with a friend. Mr. Lynch, 30, is a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was on assignment in Twentynine Palms, Calif., when his brother, who knew Ms. Pham’s friend, was invited to meet them for a night on the town.

“I’m pretty sure the first thing I said was, ‘I don’t date Marines,’” Ms. Pham recalled, laughing.

Ms. Pham graduated with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism from the University of Southern California and now works as an editorial designer for Fox Sports. She grew up in Westminster, Calif.

Mr. Lynch graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in economics. He began his career in television before deciding to join the Marine Corps at age 27, inspired by his father who served in the Navy. He grew up in New Bern, N.C.

Mr. Lynch recalled being quickly enamored with Ms. Pham.

“Just talking with her that first night, everything was so effortless,” he said. “I knew I wanted to at least take her on a date.”

It was on that night that Mr. Lynch suggested that he make the nearly four-hour drive the following weekend to Los Angeles, where Ms. Pham lived, to take her out on a proper first date.

“I couldn’t believe he wanted to make that drive,” she said.

He said he would be there at 5 p.m. “And like a good Marine, I was there at 5.”

Mr. Lynch said that “as any Marine would tell you,” leaving the base for the weekend is a treat. Even if it was for an eight-hour round-trip drive.

That night, they dined on sushi at Sugarfish in Manhattan Beach. “We talked the whole time, and made it clear that we were looking for something serious,” Mr. Lynch said. “It was nice that we were on the same page,” Ms. Pham said.

As they grew closer over the next month, Mr. Lynch shared that he was only stationed in California until April. He would soon be headed back to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, N.C.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

They spent a week in what Ms. Pham described as “relationship purgatory.” And then during his final week in California, she surprised him with an outdoor dining experience at 71Above at the top of U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles.

“We had a great final date, and together we decided to go for it,” she said.

“We were really able to start building our lives together,” Mr. Lynch said. He closed on a home in North Carolina around when he met Ms. Pham, so they had a comfortable place to get to know each other. “We were seriously dating from the beginning and knew we wanted to be married eventually.”

After a year of dating, Mr. Lynch flew to California in March 2022 after secretly asking Ms. Pham’s parents for their blessing.

“When she makes comments about things she likes, I write it down in my phone,” Mr. Lynch said. “I reserved an Airbnb sailboat experience she talked about in Newport Beach for the occasion.”

“I maybe got my nails done, just in case,” Ms. Pham recalled.

Mr. Lynch surprised Ms. Pham by instead taking her out to a marina where they embarked on a sunset sailboat cruise featuring champagne and sushi. Mr. Lynch popped the question.

The couple were married on Feb. 19 by the Rev. Randy Craft, the campus pastor at the Newport Mesa campus of the Saddleback Church, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Calif.

“I always knew I wanted to incorporate my culture into my marriage journey,” said Ms. Pham, who wore a pair of custom-embroidered ivory tulle gloves that featured script font across the top that read “Trăm Năm Hạnh Phúc,” a traditional Vietnamese wedding greeting that means “100 years of happiness.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com