Vietnamese wedding traditions: Clothing, flowers, food and decorations
The Process of a Traditional Vietnamese Wedding:
An engagement ceremony must take place in order to recognize the couple as being officially engaged. During the engagement ceremony, family and friends are gathered together in order to get acquainted with one another and also to set the wedding date. The wedding date is confirmed by the parents of the bride and groom.
On the morning of the wedding day, the groom’s family and relatives gather at the groom’s house to prepare the gifts to bring over to the bride’s house for the wedding ceremony. The gifts include items like cake, betel plants, tea, wine, fruits, and most importantly a whole roast pig. These gifts are wrapped in red paper or covered with red linen. The gifts are placed on a red tray or tin, which is called “qua”. Before heading out to the bride’s house, older family couples whom are happily married are selected to carry the trays to the bride’s house which is considered a very honorable task. The gift carriers are lined up in the order of their wealth or importance in the community. The first couple leading the parade always carries the tray with wine and small Vietnamese tea cups followed by the groom, his parents, groomsmen, carriers, and the remaining relatives.
When the groom’s party arrives at the bride’s house, they stop at the front door to wait for permission by the bride’s parents to enter the house. The first couple leading the parade will enter the bride’s house, first offering wine to the bride’s parents. Once accepted, the groom’s party may enter the house.
The wedding ceremony begins with the bride’s parents and family greeting the groom and his wedding party. The groom’s family would then ask for permission for the groom to marry his bride. In the meanwhile, the bride is waiting in the living room with her bridesmaid and other relatives. The priest or a respected member of the bride’s family will then instruct both parties on what to do. First, the bride’s parents are instructed to give their daughter to the groom. Then the groom and bride are lead to the family’s alter along with the bridesmaid and groomsmen. The groom and bride will kneel down in front of the altar to prey to their ancestors, to tell the ancestors of the union, to ask for their approval and to seek their blessing. Then the groom and bride turn around to bow down in front of the bride’s parents showing gratitude for raising the bride up and nurturing her. The bride and groom then offer the bride’s parents tea. They then turn around and repeat the procedure to the groom’s parents. Then the groom and the bride are instructed to face each other and bow to each other promising to one other their duties and love for one another as husband and wife. The groom and bride then exchange the wedding ring. Once they are officially married, the priest or respected relative would be the first person to bless the union, then both their parents would bless their union, and then the rest of the relatives would give their blessings.
The wedding reception, the decoration, the flower, and the food:
In the evening, the wedding is continued with a reception usually held at a hotel or a popular Vietnamese or Chinese restaurant. The reception is where all of their family and friends can celebrate the newlywed union. The reception has music, normally a live band, food, dancing, drinking, like any other wedding.
The reception hall is decorated in red and white. The color red is important in the Vietnamese culture because it symbolizes passion, love, life, and fertility. The decorations usually have a symbol of dragons or phoenixes. At the hall entrance there will be tables where some family members will greet the in coming guest. The guest will have a chance to sign there name and write their blessing on a signature wedding table cloth which is embroidered with a dragon symbol in the center, the bride and groom will use this as one of their many keep sakes.
The kinds of flowers are not important, but they are normally red with a mixture of white. The most popular flowers use at a Vietnamese wedding is roses.
The Vietnamese food is nutritious and is served to the guest at the guest’s table. The food is normally a ten course meal. Some of the popular dishes include the following:
Entrée: Pan fried fish paste, grilled shrimp paste on sugar cane sticks, and Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls with a Nuoc Nam (fish sauce) dipping sauce.
Mains: grilled beef marinated in lemon grass sauce, grilled chicken with lime sauce, fish in caramel syrup with galangal, clams sautéed in finely chopped lemon grass served with toasted sesame rice paper, roast duck, and stir fried noodles.
Dessert: banana cooked in coconut sugar syrup, longan stuffed lotus seed in sugar syrup, and cakes, cookies, etc.
At the reception when the food is served, the groom, bride, and their parents will stop by each table to say thank to their guests by pouring them wine in a small shot glass. The guest, in return, will give the bride and groom a red envelope or a wedding cards containing money as a gift to the newly wedded couples along with their blessing.
Clothing of the wedding parties:
The women of the wedding parties normally wears a colorful traditional dress call an “Ao Dai”. All of the bridesmaid will wear the same color and matching Ao Dai. The bride will stand out and wear red with a mixture of white or pure red Ao Dai. While the men of the wedding party have the option to wear an Americanized suit or male Ao Dai. The groomsmen will normally wear what the groom wears, either a suit or Ao Dai.
Vietnamese weddings, like any other wedding, are a joyous celebration between two people and it will be remembered by the groom, bride, and family for years to come!