Traditional Vietnamese marriage is a very important thing in the life of a man or woman. But marriage in Vietnam is not only important for an individual. It exerts a particularly important significance for the whole family, clan and lineage.
Preparing for marriage
The wedding day is usually chosen well in advance by the groom’s family and the bride’s parents. It’s not necessarily Saturday or Sunday.
The more solemnly the wedding is organized, the more it will have a deep and lasting meaning in the lives of couples. Solemn does not mean either expensive or “demonstrative”. The main objective is to tune into morality by preserving the educational traditions of the family.
Wedding costumes: In the past, the bride and groom had to wear the national costume with variations for each region or province. Today, the groom wears a European costume. Sometimes he backs the traditional “ao dai” at the request of the bride’s parents for ritual gestures in front of the altar. The “ao dai“, the traditional Vietnamese dress is preferred by the bride for ceremonies because it emphasizes the femininity and looks of the one who wears it. During the banquet, prom dresses or European costumes are more common.
The organization of the wedding
The traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony consists of five stages:
- The official ceremony at the bride’s home
- The Ruoc Dau (the ceremony where the bride is taken to the groom’s house)
- The official ceremony at the groom’s home
- Complementary ceremonies
- The Phan Bai or Lai Mat (the first visit of the newlyweds to the spouse’s family)
The official ceremony at the bride’s house.
Unlike the official ceremony at the groom’s house, at the bride’s house, it takes place in two days. The first day is reserved for the Nhom Ho, where all the members of the bride’s family gather to meet her before she leaves to live her new life with the man. Those who live in the other provinces are also summoned. Parents and elderly people in the family give advice to the bride on what to do or not do on the wedding day, as well as during her married life.
After this meeting, we organize a banquet and invite friends, and neighbours to come to celebrate the event with the family. In front of the door of the house, an artificial dome of foliage is erected on which hangs a small painting beautifully decorated with the two words Vu Quy (which means that the bride goes to her husband’s house on the wedding day) to announce to everyone the happy circumstance. Guests bring gifts or money to the bride and groom. If the fiancé lives in the same city or province, he may be present on this day.
Ruoc Dau (the ceremony where the bride is taken to the groom’s house)
On the morning of the second day, at the appointed time, the delegation of the husband’s family arrives at the bride’s house, carrying red-lacquered round boxes full of gifts such as betel leaves, areca nuts, wine, pastries, five kinds of fruit, a pair of candles… According to tradition, we stop a few meters from the house.
A crackle of firecrackers welcomes the arrivals (for security reasons, firecrackers have been banned for about ten years). Then, an elderly person and a friend of the husband (or one of his brothers) come forward and present the tray of betel leaves and wine to the bride’s parents. This rite serves to announce the time has come to drive the bride to the groom’s house.
In the courtyard or in front of the house takes place the rite of exchange of boxes of gifts between the two families. In general, on the groom’s side, it is young men who carry these boxes and pass them on to the young girls on the bride’s side. All the boxes will then be placed on a table in front of the altar of the ancestors.
On this day, the altar is beautifully decorated with flowers and fruits; sometimes we also make small sculptures of fresh fruit in the shape of a dragon and phoenix.
In the meantime, the groom stands in front of the altar, holding the wedding bouquet on his arm. Her family is invited to stand to the right of the altar, to the left will be the place of the bride’s family. The word is reserved for the groom’s family to begin the ceremony. If the matchmaker is present, it is his role to be the intermediary. The bride’s family will give the reply. Words, and phrases must be carefully chosen and represent the solemnity of the occasion. we then proceed to the presentation of the members of the two families present.
A very solemn moment
During all these rites, the bride remains inside, in one of the rooms with a closed door, decorated with a curtain in a red or pink veil. When the time comes for her presentation, the bride comes out of the room, tilts her head slightly to greet the two families and will be accompanied by her mother to the altar, next to the groom. Then, he offers her the wedding bouquet and we proceed to the rite of lighting the candles on the altar, as in the engagement ceremony.
The bride’s father burns incense and invokes the ancestors as witnesses to the ceremony. After, the mother of the groom offers jewellery to the bride (a chain with medallion, earrings, bracelets, all gold and can be encrusted with precious stones). The exchange of rings between the bride and groom marks the moment when the young men are recognized as spouses in front of both families.
To close the ceremony, the prostration of the newlyweds before the altar is a solemn occasion of great importance. This means that they ask the ancestors to testify to their willingness to start a new family, for which the head – the husband – takes responsibility. He is committed to guiding and guaranteeing his wife’s life until her death.
Then come to the accompaniment of the new groom to her husband: In the city, cars are used to drive the bride to her husband’s house. In the countryside, the means of transport are different: boats, sampans or mopeds …….. everything is possible according to local conditions. In any case, the vehicle reserved for the bride and groom is decorated with flowers, and ribbons of bright colour (usually red or pink, or yellow).
The burden of transporting the bride’s family is the responsibility of the groom’s family. The bride’s friends bring her suitcases of clothes or personal items to her new home.
The official ceremony at the groom’s home
The official ceremony at the groom’s house: In principle, the ceremony takes place more or less like the bride’s house, but of course without exchanging gifts, rings and jewellery. After the ceremony, the bride rests for a while, cools down and offers betel leaves and areca nuts to the elderly people in her in-laws. At noon or in the evening, the groom’s parents organize a large feast in honour of their child’s wedding. some members of the bride’s family are also invited.
To complete the traditional Vietnamese wedding there are complementary customs such as to Hong (according to Chinese customs, this rite has been forgotten and suppressed for a long time in Vietnam) and also Giao Duyen (exchange of greetings between the bride and groom at the wedding night)
Giao Duyen: The ritual gesture of exchanging greetings between the two spouses takes place in the bridal chamber. The husband shares with his wife the betel leave offered at the altar of the ancestors during the morning ceremony, then pours wine into a glass, and the two spouses each drink half of it.
Phan Bai or Lai Mat
Phan Bai: Three days after the traditional Vietnamese wedding, the young couple returns to visit the spouse’s parents. In the North, the spouses bring sticky rice and liquid compote as a present. In the South, it is replaced by wine, tea, pastries, and fruits; in some provinces, it will be two ducks.
Traditional Vietnamese Wedding Video
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