The traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important ceremonies in Vietnamese culture, with influence from Confucian and Buddhist ideologies.
Depending on habits of specific ethnic groups, marriage includes various steps and related procedures, but generally there are two main ceremonies:
Le an hoi (betrothal ceremony): Some time before the wedding, the groom and his family visit the bride and her family with round lacquered boxes known as betrothal presents composed of gifts of areca nuts and betel leaves, tea, cake, fruits, wines and other delicacies covered with red cloth and carried by unmarried girls or boys. Both families agree to pick a good day for wedding.
Le cuoi (wedding ceremony): Guests would be invited to come to join a party and celebrate the couple’s happiness. The couple should pray before the altar asking their ancestors for permission for their marriage, then to express their gratitude to both groom’s and bride’s parents for raising and protecting them. Guests will share their joy at a party later.
On the wedding day, the groom’s family and relatives go to the bride’s house bringing a lot of gifts wrapped in red papers. These gifts are similar to those of the engagement: betel leaves and areca nuts, wines, fruits, cakes, tea … Those who hold these trays are also carefully chosen, usually they are happily married couples. Ladies and women are all dressed in Ao Dai. Men could be in their suits or men traditional Ao Dai. The troop are usually led by a couple that is most wealthy and successful among the relatives, this means to wish the to-be-wed couples a blessing life together in the future.
The groom’s family would stop in the font of the bride’s house. The leading couple should enter the house first bringing a tray with wine and tiny cups on it. They would invite the bride’s parents to take a sip. By accepting the toast, the bride’s family agree for the groom family to enter their house. The firework is immediately fired to greet the groom’s family.
The groom’s family would introduce themselves and ask permission for their son to marry his bride. The Master of the Ceremony (usually a respected person among the bride’s relatives) instructs the bride’s parents to present their daughter. The bride then follows her parents out. She is in Vietnamese traditional wedding Ao Dai which is usually in red. Followed are her bride maids. The wedding ceremony starts in front of the altar. The bride and the groom would kneel down and pray, asking their ancestors’ permission to be married, also asking for blessing on their family-to-be. The couple then turn around and bow down to the bride’s parents to say thank for raising and protecting her since birth. They then bow their head to each other, which means to show their gratitude and respect toward their soon-to-be husband or wife. The Master of the Ceremony would gave the wedding couple advices on starting a new family. The groom and the bride’s parents would take turn to share their experience and give blessing. The groom and the bride then exchange their wedding rings. The parents will give the newly wedded value gifts such as golden bracelets, ear rings, necklace… The ceremony is ended with a round applause.
Today, a lot of Vietnamese couples have their wedding ceremony done in Temples or Churches which is very much similar to American and Western style, including exchanging vows and wedding rings. However, they still maintain Vietnamese traditional ceremony in the bride’s home before heading to temples or churches.
A wedding banquet is scheduled in the evening at a hotel or a big restaurant. It is always a delight feast that all relatives, friends, and neighbors are invited. A music band is usually hired to play live songs.
At the banquet, the groom, bride, and their family are once again introduced to the guests and everyone will drink a toast. Dinner will be served at the tables.
During the reception, the groom, bride, and their parents will stop by each table to say thank to their guests. The guest in return, will give envelopes containing wedding cards and money gifts to the newly wedded couples along with their blessing. A lot of weddings nowadays are followed by a dancing party, which is opened by the groom and the bride’s first dance. The party does not recess until very late at night. The newly wedded couples then leave for their honey moon.