On Sept. 9, the interior of Thai One On restaurant in downtown Anniston was transformed into a fairy-tale wonderland as owner Somboon “Sam” Sutchaleo and Supaphun “Su” Chanasopidanont were united in holy matrimony.
The couple met when Su dropped into the restaurant one day looking for work. Originally from Bangkok, she was in the United States on a student visa, attending classes at Jacksonville State University to earn her master’s in web development.
Even though there were no job openings at the restaurant, Su returned many times afterwards as a customer, to enjoy the authentic cuisine of her native land. In the process, she and Sam became better acquainted and started dating.
This past Valentine’s Day, Sam popped the question. Su said yes, and the wedding planning was underway.
The couple scouted different venues around town, but when a decision needed to be made about where to hold the ceremony, they chose familiar territory: Sam’s restaurant.
Sam wanted everything to be perfect, and as a result he was dubbed “Groomzilla” by his staff. No matter what last-minute, panicky questions he threw their way, they assured him they had everything under control. “We got this, Sam, we got this,” they would tell him, over and over.
Sam credits his manager, Allison Bryant, with tending to all the decorating details and his former executive chef and close friend, Micheal Hines, for handling the technical aspects as well as serving as the event’s DJ.
Once the ceremony began, the bride, escorted by her stepfather, walked down the makeshift aisle to the tune of Bobby Vinton’s “My Special Angel.” They followed along behind the bride’s mother, who guided them to the altar, a Thai wedding custom.
Emotions ran high, particularly for the groom, as the Rev. Brad Cox had the couple exchange vows. When the newly pronounced husband and wife shared a kiss, the restaurant was filled with cheers and applause.
Immediately following the ceremony, the wedding party walked across Noble Street to Avalon Studios, home to photographer David Walters and his wife, Rhonda. David spent the next hour shooting pictures of the bride and groom — alone, together and with all their family, friends and guests.
And then the partying began with an open bar that offered up a variety of cocktails followed by an incredible buffet of everyone’s favorite Thai dishes. From dumplings and eggrolls to drunken noodles, fried rice, shrimp, chicken, pork and a variety of vegetables, all was prepared to perfection.
Following a champagne toast, a beautiful three-tiered wedding cake was rolled out into the main dining room. The newlyweds used chopsticks to feed each other that first bite.
Tables were cleared away to make room for Sam and Su to take center stage, dancing their first dance to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” The rest of the night was filled with more dancing, lively music and wedding revelry.
For their honeymoon, the newlyweds intended to fly to Miami and take a motorcycle ride to Key West, but Hurricane Irma put the kibosh on that and the couple had to come up with a Plan B. They’ve decided to save up their money for a visit to Thailand next year.
In the meantime, Sam and Su are settled here in Anniston, where they intend to live happily ever after.
Donna Barton’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at email@example.com.