The wedding is one of the most important traditions of Vietnamese with many customs. Like other countries, this ceremony is also considered the happiest event of one’s life. Have a look at the What to Know about Vietnamese Wedding Traditions and Customs guide to understand more about Vietnamese weddings.
Vietnamese Wedding Ceremonies
Proposal Ceremony (Cham Ngo)
As one of the most traditional wedding customs remaining in today’s Vietnamese society, the proposal ceremony is the meeting of the two families where the groom’s family will visit the bride’s family to ask permission for an official relationship between the children with the aim of getting married. This ceremony often takes place without any complicated rituals, and the gifts that the groom’s family brings to the bride’s are expected to be the betel and the areca. The main purpose of this meeting is to help both families come to an understanding about the upcoming marriage. A proposal ceremony is considered to be a good start for a successful marriage.
Engagement Party (Dam Hoi)
Engagement is an official announcement of the wedding and often takes place half a year or a few months before the wedding. In the past, almost all marriages were arranged by the parents, and the children had no choice but to follow their parents’ arrangement. Thus, this ceremony is considered to be more important than the wedding as it marks the start of the relationship between two families.
The engagement is not only a ceremony but also a milestone of the bride’s life, in which she officially becomes the groom’s fiancée. Traditionally, the date for the engagement is often chosen carefully by both families based on the couples’ birthdays and the time they were given birth according to the Lunar calendar. In today’s society, engagement is not as essential as it used to be as the bride and groom often try to reduce unnecessary customs. There are many couples who decide to celebrate their engagement a few days or a month before their wedding.
The gifts usually include betel and areca, husband-wife cake (Banh phu the), wine, tea, an engagement ring, and a roasted pig, and they usually go in pairs, representing the couple. The fiancé’s family prepares these gifts before the engagement, placing them in an odd number of trays, and covering the whole thing with red cloth because the odd numbers and red color are believed to bring young couple luck and happiness.
There are 5, 7, or 9 males from the fiancé’s family bringing the trays of gifts and the same number of females from the fiancée’s family receiving them. The requirement for those who bring or receive engagement gifts is that they haven’t got married. These people are often the bride’s and groom’s relatives or friends.
On the engagement day, the fiancé’s family will bring their gift to the fiancée’s family. After the receiving-gift ritual, the couple will pray in front of the fiancée’s family altar in order to ask for approval from the fiancée’s ancestors. After that, the fiancé can give his fiancée the engagement ring with cheers from both families. On this occasion, the bride, and sometimes even the groom, will wear ao dai, the Vietnamese traditional dress.
Wedding Reception (Dam Cuoi)
The date of the wedding, and also that of the engagement, is chosen carefully and usually decided by a Buddhist monk or a fortune teller. Before the wedding, the groom’s family will come to the bride’s home again with betel and areca as a gift, officially asking to receive the bride. The bride’s family will confirm one last time the wedding and other proceedings.
On the wedding day, the groom’s family and some of their close friends will come and receive the bride at her house. After a formal tea and candle ceremony and some speeches, the couple would turn to their parents, receiving their advice and bowing to them. The groom’s mother would give the bride jewelry for good fortune.
The wedding reception will take place at the groom’s house or a restaurant. Some weddings in the countryside often last for 2 to 3 days with a large number of guests. Before the main ceremony, the couple will stand by the door, welcome the guests, and take pictures. As the couple walks onto the stage, the ceremony will start with the announcement of the host together with many cheers from guests.
After that, the couple will go from table to table in order to thank their guests for their attendance. Karaoke is almost a must in every Vietnamese wedding, especially in the countryside. During the reception, Vietnamese guests often enjoy signing up to sing and dance on stage to celebrate this special event.
Dos and Don’ts at Vietnamese Weddings
- Don’t bring anyone along if there is no “+” sign or other names next to yours on your wedding invitation.
- Don’t get drunk at the wedding. Vietnamese often enjoy drinking beer during the wedding, and some do get drunk, but being drunk in this ceremony would annoy other guests.
- Don’t complain to the bride or the groom about the food or the quality of the wedding.
- Don’t go to a wedding if there is someone in your family who has just passed away. Vietnamese consider this an unlucky thing for the bride and groom.
- Do wear suitable clothes. Smart casual is highly recommended. You should avoid overstanding colors or clothes and let the couple have their day.
Learn more about Vietnamese superstitions
What Gifts to Bring to a Vietnamese Wedding
Money is always a welcome gift for the wedding in Vietnam as it helps the bride and groom to offset the cost of the wedding. You should put the lucky money into the envelope which contains the wedding invitation card. At the wedding reception, you will see the bride and groom’s relatives or friends standing next to a table with a small decorated box where you can put the envelopes. The average amount is about VND 500,000, but you can put more or less depending on how close you are with the newlywed. As that is the common procedure of a wedding, if you prefer to present other gifts, you should tell the bride and groom in advance that you want to give them a present instead of money.
Read more about Lucky Money in Vietnam
Other Wedding Customs in Vietnam
As a country with diverse religious and ethnic groups, Vietnam also has other wedding customs that are specific to groups of certain ethnicities and religions. For example, Catholics usually hold a ceremony in the church before the wedding reception; arranged marriages are still popular in some minority ethnicities; and in Tay Nguyen, the girl can choose her future husband and ask his hand in marriage. If you are to attend these weddings, make sure you have the locals fully explain the traditions as they are quite different (and fun) from the popular majority. Read more about Religions in Vietnam here.
Summary of What to Know about Vietnamese Wedding Traditions and Customs
Like many other Asian countries, the Vietnamese wedding plays an important role not only for the bride and groom but also for their family. In modern life, the traditional wedding has gradually changed to save time and money, but the main customs like paying gratitude to the parents and asking one’s hand in marriage are still kept.
Have you ever been to a Vietnamese wedding? If you have, share with us your experience in the comment section below.
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