A Vietnamese modern wedding is a beautiful blend of the past and present. Couples keep alive many traditional practices while embracing western influences. How is the preparation? What to expect on the big day? Learn all about the modern Vietnamese wedding plus 10 fascinating superstitions in this article.
Initial Meeting and Preparation
Saying “yes” to the marriage proposal is only the first step of a long nuptial to-do list. Even for a shotgun wedding, the couples still have to go through a standard process. First of all, the two families will arrange an “official meeting” to discuss the following:
Who Pays for What?
This is a sensitive topic yet so important that the two families must set straight immediately. In the old days, the groom’s family often bore the weight but both families pay for the wedding today. Usually, the groom side will take care of:
- Wedding rings and jewelry for the bride
- Wedding outfits for him and his parents
- Wedding decor at his house
- Wedding gift sets (for the permission and betrothal ceremony)
- Transportation for his relatives in the wedding day
- Tea ceremony banquet*
- Wedding banquet*
* Discuss with the bride’s family
The bride’s family will pay for:
- Jewelry for the bride
- Wedding outfits for the bride
- Spa, hair care for the bride
- Wedding decor at her house
- Food and beverage at the wedding reception at her house
- Transportation for her relatives on the wedding day
- Tea ceremony banquet*
- Wedding banquet*
* Discuss with the groom’s family
The couple may take care of the wedding planner service.
The bride will move in with her husband and parents-in-law after the wedding and thus the groom’s family should do some renovation to welcome the new lady of the house.
Choose a Day
Vietnamese people believe a good wedding day brings prosperity to not only the newlyweds but their families. Traditionally, the families will ask a monk or a fortune teller to pick the dates (tea ceremony, wedding day, and post-wedding visit).
Today, the health check-up is part of the marriage registration process. Also, there is a hidden meaning to this step. “Choose your wife for her family line and choose your hubby for his breed” – healthy couples make healthy offspring!
The Wedding Planner
Couples may feel overwhelmed as there is a lot to do for the big day! In the past, spouses-to-be took care of everything but wedding planners have become popular these days. Typically, the service should cover the following:
- Bridal outfit and makeup, including flowers for the bride, groom, bridesmaids, and bestmen
- Wedding photography/videography: concept, photoshoot venue, post-production work. Couples should expect a video, a photobook, and digital copies as final products.
- Wedding invitation cards
- Venue and decor
- Wedding cake
There are several ways to arrange wedding food for modern families. Many choose a hotel or a wedding center for the banquet and thus select a set menu at different price points. Some prefer the traditional way of preparing food at home. If this is the case, a food supplier will come to cook and clean up. Stable items like sticky rice, chicken, and rice wine remain in almost every menu.
Ao Dai was and still is the “it” outfit for brides in their tea ceremony. The white dress, an obvious Western influence, is for the wedding reception. Some brides prefer going big for their day and have more outfits for the banquet and after-party!
Most grooms prefer a nice-cut suit but more and more choose traditional clothes. As for the parents and relatives, the general dress code is Ao Dai for females and suites for males.
If you’re a guest, consider wearing nice clothes in bright colors. Avoid all black or all white since all back is for the funeral and all white is for the bride.
The “Gift Code”
Guests attending the wedding usually give the couple lucky money in envelopes. Depending on their relationship with the families, the amount varies from 20-100 USD. Sometimes, close friends can offer something different like souvenirs or house appliances. And keep in mind the unspoken gift rule: if you’re attending a wedding of someone who went to yours, try not to give less lucky money than they did.
The Permission Ceremony (“Le Dam Ngo”)
Marriages were mostly arranged in the past so parents organized this meeting for the couple to officially meet. Of course, it is no longer the purpose of such a meeting. Today, this ceremony is a time for the two families to meet as future in-laws. The groom should come with a gift set of betel-nut, wine, tea, fruit, and candies.
The Tea Ceremony (“Le An Hoi”)
According to the traditions, the tea ceremony should happen one or two months before the wedding. But families today prefer to organize the tea ceremony from two weeks to two days before the wedding. The groom’s family must prepare several gift “plates” in odd numbers (5,7,9) for the bride. A standard package should have:
- A sticky rice plate
- A fruit plate
- A sweet treat plate with young rice cake (“banh com”), husband-and-wife cake (“banh phu the/banh xu xe”)
- A beverage plate with alcohol, tea, and cigarettes
- A betel-nut plate
- A roasted young pig plate
- After the ceremony, the families often invite guests to enjoy a small banquet and get rest for the big day.
The Wedding Day (“Le Vu Quy”)
The big day is finally here! First thing first, the groom’s family must depart and arrive at the bride’s house at a certain hour (“golden hour”) for good luck. Then, the wedding reception begins as follows:
- Elder representatives of the two families exchange permissions and best wishes for the couple
- The groom comes to the bride’s room and escorts her to the altar
- The newlyweds offer prayers to their ancestors and thanks to the parents
- Guests enjoy sweet treats before heading to the wedding banquet (at a hotel or a wedding center)
A common script for the modern wedding may have an on-stage vow exchange at the hotel. Parents may give more jewelry for the newlyweds and wish them a long and happy life. There will be entertainment like singing or dancing while the guests are enjoying delectable dishes.
Young couples can also throw an after-party at a bar and invite close friends to join them.
The Post-Wedding Visit (“Le Lai Mat”)
Within five days from the wedding day, the newlyweds must pay a visit to the bride’s family. This act is to show respect to the wife’s parents, thanking them for raising her well. Of course, the couple must not show up empty-handed. A simple gift set of fruits, candies, and a lucky money envelope is the standard. Also, the best time to visit is during the daytime, unless the fortune teller says otherwise.
10 Fascinating Superstitions about a Vietnamese Wedding
A marriage carries on the families’ bloodlines and strengthens the society. And so, it’s understandable why people tend to act upon a lot of superstitions. Let’s see which one will surprise you the most!
- People in morning should not attend the wedding
- No-mothers territory
The bride’s mother must not go with her and the groom’s mother must not pick up the bride or welcome her.
- No wearing of wedding rings before the wedding!
- The bride must not let the groom or anyone from his side see her during the procession
- A pregnant bride should not enter the groom’s house from the main entrance
- Offerings for the holy ghost during the procession
- The wedding bed must be brand new
- No one gets to sit on the wedding bed but the couple
- No breaking of anything
- No “bad vibe” decor items in the wedding room (Sharp tools, broken furniture, plants with thorns, souvenirs)
featured image/ from ambientwedding.com