Celebrations reflect a lot about a country’s culture. Wedding celebrations in Vietnam are giant, and if you’ve travelled to Vietnam then you’ve probably seen (or at least heard) one happening. These ceremonies are huge and the bride & groom invite just about the entire village, around 200 or 300 people! The details in this post reflect a typical Central Vietnamese countryside wedding. Weddings differ a little bit throughout the country, especially in larger cities. I’d like to thank two members of our team in Hoi An – Phu and Phuc – for allowing me to use photos from their weddings!
Usually, there is a smaller intimate wedding ceremony in the mornings before the larger celebrations. The morning ceremonies are held for close friends and family. The large ceremonies in the evening are for pretty much anyone that the bride and groom knows. The bride goes through various outfit changes, from traditional Ao Dai’s to “Western” wedding dresses.
When arriving at a wedding, it is customary that the groom is up front beside a triumphant flower arrangement, greeting all of the guests. After you snap some photos with the groom and say congrats, you’ll see a table with a few people sitting with a sort of piggy bank. This piggy bank is for “lucky money”, which is a gift to support the couple and their new life. This money also helps to pay for the wedding- the food & beer you’re indulging in isn’t free! As a local friend, 200,000 VND is a typical gift amount. As a close relative or best friend, 500,000-1,000,000 VND is a good gift. If you’re foreign, then we recommend gifting around 500,000 VND. Place the money in a special envelope, or any envelope, and make sure to write your name since the wedding couple will be receiving tons of gifts.
After entering the venue, which in the countryside is usually someone’s home or a nearby venue such as a school or restaurant, guests sit on the famous tiny red chairs of Vietnam and crack open a beer to await the festivities. Make sure not to sit by the ice bucket for your table, because you’ll quickly become be the designated ice patron, and since the beer isn’t cold this can become quite a daunting task.
After the beers are flowing, the “Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!”‘s (Vietnamese Cheers!) are growing, and the stomachs are rumbling, the ceremony begins. With loud techno booming in the background, the bride and groom make their entrance. Traditionally, when the bride and grooms’ family live close to each other (which is very common), the groom’s mother walks the groom over to the bride’s family home. Then, the groom asks permission to “take” the bride away from the family. Once the father of the bride (hopefully) accepts, he then walks with the bride to the wedding stage to give her to her awaiting family.
(Before the large wedding party – they even used our beautiful Vespas for a photoshoot!)
Then a procession of giant sparklers on cakes, confetti flying about, and more loud techno occurs as themain part of the actually wedding ceremony. In a few short minutes, the actual ceremony is complete and then the chowing down begins. Vietnamese cuisine has a very big sharing culture. Large platters are placed in the middle of each table, alongside free packs of cigarettes and moist towelettes. People then dive in and quickly devour the delicious food, platter by platter. Of course, at this time there is lots of drinking and lots of cheersing. You’ll notice a sort of “competition” seems to form between groups of tables- who can cheers the loudest? Guests even hop on stage and request songs that they sing along with, kind of like a huge Karaoke party, but watch out because sometimes the DJ will shoo you off the stage. While this is happening, the bride and groom are making their rounds from table to table making sure to snap plenty of photos with each of their guests. Before you know it, the wedding is over, and it’s on to a Karaoke bar to complete the night.