A photographer gave a norm-defying elderly couple in Vietnam a gift of a lifetime by capturing their wedding day on film.
Hai Le Cao fatefully met the couple who are both around 80 years old on the boathouse they live in on the Red River in Hanoi. According to Thanh Nien News, he learned the story of how they met and fell in love and was inspired to throw them a wedding to celebrate their years together.
The elderly couple, Thanh and Thuy, were both homeless orphans living in poverty as youths. The two are trash collectors who fatefully met on June 2, 1969 at a landfill site. Thanh showed Cao the date he had tattooed on his arm to represent the day that changed their lives.
Thanh and Thuy fell in love and soon moved in with each other. They were nomads moving from place to place but finally decided to settle down on an islet on the Red River called Bai Giua.
The two have been through many life trials together. They collect trash every day to support themselves.
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Though local officials decided that the makeshift boathouses on the river had to go four years ago, they let Thuan and Thuy stay.
Apparently the elderly couple had taken it upon themselves to take care of the dead bodies that have shown up on the river over the years.
They live humbly and don’t have any valuable possessions. Perhaps their most treasured items are a pair of smoking pipes they use for a type of rainforest tobacco called “thuoc lao.”
The couple have a common love for smoking. Thuan said:
“It’s good to have two [pipes] because we will not have to fight.”
Cao learned that the two never thought of celebrating with a wedding, but he talked the couple into it. He took it upon himself to plan a wedding for Thanh and Thuy and even captured the special day with his camera.
He described the lovebirds as an “open-minded” and “extremely lovely” couple.