This Lifestyle Blogger and Her Groom-to-Be Took Engagement Photos on a Vintage Picnic Boat

Jasmine Nguyen chose Sea Philly’s Argonaut for a different look at the city skyline.

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The Sea Philly engagement photos of Jasmine Nguyen and Aidan Hamilton / Engagement photography by Minh Cao of du soleil photographie

Yes, we’ve told you again and again how Philly really shines during engagement photo sessions snapped at various landmarks and up on rooftops. But what about from the water? This couple took advantage of the river scenes by way of Best of Philly-winning Sea Philly, a 1961 picnic boat dubbed the Argonaut that offers excursions on the Schuylkill and Delaware — not to mention a private dockside event space in Society Hill. The talented Minh Cao of du soleil photographie snapped all the splashy details.

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The couple:  Jasmine Nguyen, 28, a labor and delivery nurse at Jefferson – Center City and lifestyle blogger, and Aidan Hamilton, 28, corporate counsel at Axalta Coating Systems, both of Fishtown

How they met: The couple connected while attending Drexel University in September 2012. They instantly clicked, and things just felt “easy,” but neither was looking for a serious relationship at the time. (It was their freshman year, after all.) It wasn’t until junior year — and after some persistence and charm on Aidan’s part — that they officially started dating. “Jas was the first girl I introduced to my family, which meant, for me, I was in it for the long run.”

The proposal story: True to his word, Aidan proposed eight years later, in March 2022, by staging a decoy photoshoot at Oakbourne Mansion in West Chester. (He chose the location because it’s the midpoint between where their families live, his in Jenkintown and Jasmine’s in Lancaster.) That was followed by a surprise party with their closest friends and family members inside the mansion.

The engagement-session approach: Because of the couple’s longtime love of Philly, they knew they wanted to snap photos with the city skyline behind them — but they didn’t want to do something traditional. After a bit of research, they landed on Sea Philly, and set the date for September. “The boat looks like it was picked up from the Amalfi Coast and dropped on the Schuylkill River,” says Jasmine. “We loved the idea of riding in the boat with well-known Philadelphia landmarks in the background.”

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Photograph by Richard Hamilton

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Photograph by Richard Hamilton

But first, a wedding-party proposal: A week ahead of the engagement photo session, on Jasmine’s birthday (September 10th), the couple popped the question to their wedding party — at the Estuary, Sea Philly’s dockside event space on the Delaware. Rosier Event Rentals was enlisted to create a custom sign that read, “Meet Us at the Altar” — it was the first thing their friends and family saw when walking down the dock. Jasmine and Aidan arranged for gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen, sushi and other fun by the water.

Back to the engagement photos: The session started at Bartram’s Garden in Southwest Philly, since there was a dock where Chris Stock and Georgette Luna — the Sea Philly team — could pick them up. “We loved how Bartram’s had so many different vibes,” says Jasmine. “The stone wall felt like we were abroad in Europe, and the wildflowers in the garden were magical.”

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The attire: The couple went with all-white ensembles with black accessories via Aidan’s shoes and Jasmine’s sunglasses for their first look. “All white is such a chic, powerful moment,” says Jasmine. For the second: a more casual brown and neutral look. And the third? A custom Alton Lane suit for Aidan complete with their wedding date embroidered in the jacket and the Havana print lining, and a statement dress from BHLDN for Jasmine.

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The fun on the water: The photographer frequently tried to snap “in-the-moment” shots. “Her photos tell such a story,” says Jasmine. For one such pose, Cao had Aidan spin Jasmine and do a dip hanging over the boat. “I felt like I was about to fall in,” recalls the bride-to-be. “But anything for the shot!”


The wedding plans: Jasmine and Aidan will say “I do” in September at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul, followed by a reception at Lilah in Fishtown. The couple loves “eating their way through Philadelphia” and appreciate the family-style servings and Israeli cuisine served at the industrial venue. Because Jasmine is Vietnamese, the couple also hopes to incorporate influences from her culture — they’d like to do a tea ceremony during the rehearsal — and Càphê Roasters will serve Vietnamese iced coffees during cocktail hour “to give people a little caffeine boost to dance the night away.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

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