Aimy Tran and Henry Chou Jr.
May 25, of 2019 in Camden, N.J.
Because his friends from Camden Catholic were her friends from working at Hollister & Co., Henry and Aimy saw glimpses of each other’s lives on Facebook. Henry liked what he saw.
“I messaged her, but she never responded,” he said.
About four years later, in spring 2013, Henry was working in New York City as a model, but came home to celebrate his little brother Luke’s confirmation. He walked into the Cherry Hill Capital Grille, and saw his mother, Anne, talking to Aimy, who was the hostess.
Anne didn’t know that Henry once had eyes for Aimy, but Aimy had already impressed Anne, who told her she really needed to meet her handsome, successful son, who would be arriving any minute.
Henry walked up about then. Usually sharp, he was suddenly shy. “Oh, hey!” he told Aimy.
“Hey!” said Aimy, who was blown away by how handsome he had become.
After his brother’s fete, Henry got Aimy’s number. He reached out a few times, but he was in New York and she was in Camden and reluctant to meet a man she didn’t really know alone, so nothing happened. Not until Christmas Eve, when he was at his mother’s home in Moorestown and invited some people to hang out, including Aimy and several of their mutual friends.
“No one came…” said Henry.
“Except me…” said Aimy.
It was awkward for a few moments, and then it was wonderful. They talked all night and parted with a kiss. Then he had to leave for three months’ work in L.A.
They talked much and about so many things that it felt as if they were a couple.
For Valentine’s Day, “She sent me a gift, and it was the sweetest thing in the world,” Henry said.
“It was just a card,” Aimy noted.
“But it smelled nice,” Henry said.
She had sprayed it with her perfume.
Once Henry returned to New York, they took things at Henry’s slow pace. “My parents were divorced, and their parents were divorced. I had never seen a healthy relationship,” he said. “And from my past experiences dating, I didn’t trust.”
Their relationship continued to evolve, though.
Henry’s mother and the rest of his family loved Aimy, and as he watched her interacting with them and his other family and friends at a Labor Day party in 2014, Henry couldn’t deny that he loved her, too. “She is just so genuine, and someone who is so loving, so honest, and the best listener in the world,” he said.
Henry’s father, Henry Sr., lives in Brigantine, and Aimy met him for the first time at the party. Henry introduced her as his girlfriend.
“Oh, wait, I’m your girlfriend?!” she said, mildly poking fun of him. She knew they were an item, and embraced the new label.
“He is such a great person. So intelligent, so funny, entrepreneurial, creative. Everyone who speaks to him falls in love with him,” she said.
Soon after, Henry met Aimy’s father, Vien, and mother, Lien. He holds up their relationship as a model of how good a marriage can be.
Vien had been in a refugee camp in Vietnam before immigrating to the U.S. Later, friends he made here asked him whether he would sponsor a friend of theirs, who was still in a camp. He agreed. They met, fell in love, and got married in the early 1980s.
Neither Vien nor Lien, who is Vietnamese and Chinese, spoke English. So Aimy and her sister Thao Tran were their interpreters. And from a young age, Aimy, who is now 28, worked to help support her family.
For three years, Henry, now 30, continued to work in New York, and Aimy commuted between Weehawken, N.J., and her job in Cherry Hill. Then, her father was diagnosed with liver disease.
The couple moved back to South Jersey to spend more time with family. They lived with Aimy’s parents and were looking for a place of their own when Vien decided to give them the house across the street, which he had rented out for years. “We spent much of the last year of his life fixing it up together, and we bonded,” Henry said.
Vien died in August 2017.
Henry began working for a solar energy company. In March 2018, he founded his own: Next Century Solar, which focuses on commercial applications. Aimy now works for the company, too.
The same month Henry founded his company, he and Aimy traveled to Sarasota, Fla., to visit Henry’s father’s snowbird nest. On the last day, Henry rented a little boat, and the couple packed a picnic. But once on the choppy water, Henry’s sweet plan went sour, as did his poor stomach.
Aimy got the boat to shore. Henry got himself to land and lay on a park bench. “As I’m laying there, I see a photographer, and so I get myself upright and go ask for her help.”
Henry rushed back to Aimy, and knelt before her, opening a ring box. Nervous, he said nothing.
“Do you want to ask me something?” Aimy prompted.
“Will you marry me?” asked Henry.
“Yes!” said Aimy. Henry didn’t move.
“Do you want to put that on my finger?” Aimy asked. They broke into laughter, and the photographer continued to snap shots as they re-boarded the boat to head for the marina.
The couple were wed at the bride’s family home in Camden, just across the street from the place they share with their red-nosed pit bull, Oliver.
Aimy was raised Buddhist. Henry, whose father is Chinese and whose mother is American of Italian decent, was raised Catholic, but is now also Buddhist. They chose to marry with a traditional tea ceremony.
While Aimy stayed hidden upstairs, her family and close friends stood outside waiting for the groom. When Henry and his entourage arrived, the bridesmaids required them to perform tasks to earn their way inside, including forming the word love with their bodies.
Eventually, all 60 people went inside and Aimy’s mother escorted her down the stairs. She and Henry symbolically served tea to their ancestors , including Aimy’s father, and then literally served their parents and the rest of the guests.
Interfaith Rev. Christine Schmieder led them through the vows they wrote for each other.
The couple and their families then hosted a 10-course Chinese wedding banquet for 300 guests at the Sheraton Philadelphia University City, catered by Aimy’s favorite Chinese restaurant, Sang Kee Noodle House.
Because the Lion Dance brings good luck, Henry and Aimy hired Cheung Hung Ga Kung Fu Academy to perform.
“I’ll never forget seeing my dad’s face, and how much fun he was having,” Henry said.
Henry shows his love, but doesn’t normally say mushy things, so hearing him say the vows he wrote to her was especially powerful, Aimy said. “I just felt so proud to be marrying this man.”
The couple’s first dance was to their song, “Music to My Eyes,” from A Star Is Born. “We didn’t practice, and yet, it felt so natural, like we were meant to be there together,” Henry said.
A bargain: The white wedding dress Aimy loved cost about $5,000. She took photos and asked a Vietnamese seamstress to use them as her inspiration. Cost: $400.
The splurge: In hindsight, the couple say they could have pared down their flower budget. The big floral centerpieces were so lovely, but Aimy’s family put them on the floor to make more room for the food.
Most of Aimy’s late father’s family still lives in Vietnam and couldn’t make it to the Philadelphia wedding. So this fall, the couple will travel to Ho Chi Minh City for a second wedding ceremony with them, in honor of Vien. They will also vacation and relax at Mia resort.
Officiant: The Rev. Christine Schmieder, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, Toms River, N.J.
Venues: The bride’s mother’s house and Sheraton Philadelphia University City.
Food: Sang Kee, Philadelphia.
Photography: Amanda Jaffe, Love Me Do Photography, Philadelphia.
Videography: Jeff Ashe, Ashe Productions, Medford, N.J.
Flowers: Ten Pennies, Philadelphia.
Dress: Custom made at Meow Wedding in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Makeup: Emily Hedicke and Ashley Bohl, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
Groom’s attire: Custom made by J. Peditto Apparel; Mt. Laurel, NJ, and Meow Wedding