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Contemporary Vietnamese Traditional Weddings

Getting married is an important event in a Vietnamese’s life. The procedure of the ancient wedding ceremony was very complicated. Current wedding ceremony procedures include the following steps: the search for a husband or wife, the proposal, the registration, and finally the wedding.

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.

The pace of change
Modern traditional weddings in Vietnam differ significantly to those in the past. The most obvious change is the cost – the social pressure of ‘face’ leads some families to spend up to the equivalent of ten year’s salary.
Another obvious difference is the average age of the couple.

Contemporary beliefs
The tradition of matchmaking has largely faded away, but most parents have firm views – were they to decide that the prospective spouse was unsuitable, most young people would accept the verdict and break off the relationship.

Some young people seek the services of an astrologer in advance to determine whether their future liaison will be successful. If the result were negative, most would withdraw.

Gifts from the groom's family
The groom’s parents and immediate relatives are preceded by an odd number of young men smartly dressed in shirt and tie, and dark trousers. They each carry a tray covered in a red cloth, or alternatively a large red and gold canister, containing gifts of betel leaves, areca nuts, wine, fruit, cakes, tea and so on.

In the past, they would have walked, but today most wedding parties opt for cars and change to cyclos for the last part of the journey.

Red is the dominant colour in a traditional Vietnamese wedding – it’s considered a lucky colour and will lead to a rosy future.
Upon arrival the young men dismount and are met by the same number of young women dressed in red ao dais. The men hand the gifts to the women who take them inside.

The wedding banquet
After the marriage, both wedding parties leave to join guests that were not invited to the marriage ceremony at a large banquet. This is usually a large gathering, often in the hundreds and sometimes more. The groom, bride, and their family are once again introduced to the guests and everyone drinks a toast. Dinner or lunch is served at the table.

During the reception, the groom, bride, and their parents visit each table to thank their guests. In return, the guests give envelopes containing wedding cards, money gifts and a blessing to the newly wedded couple.

After the banquet, the groom’s party and the bride leave for the groom’s house, where she will live. Later, the bride’s party follows to inspect the accommodation - particularly the marital chamber.
 

 
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