Joining a wedding is always good fun, and a Vietnamese wedding is no exception!
ICT’s Matt attended a Vietnamese wedding in Hoi An last week, and here he shares some of his experiences! Matt writes:
Recently I was very excited to receive an invitation to my friend’s wedding in Hoi An. I was even more excited when I could arrange a few days of free time so I could attend. Hoi An is a favourite spot of mine to visit, but to attend for a special event made it even more memorable.
The Lead Up To The Day
My first impression was one of peace and calm. The town of Hoi An and surrounding countryside has this feeling for me whenever I visit, but I was surprised the bride-to-be had time to welcome me personally on my first night in Hoi An! I met my friend’s husband-to-be and he was very kind, calm and relaxed. They invited me to take part in the formal part of the wedding as one of then groomsmen (or something similar), and I felt honoured, so of course accepted.
The Formal Celebrations
Vietnamese culture has a lot of history, and weddings are still quite traditional. On the morning of the wedding day I met the groom and his family at his home. The groom wore a red Ao Dai, the family wore suits and the ‘groomsmen’ all wore white shirts and black pants. The whole gathering for this part of the day was around 30 people and we travelled together to the bride-to-be’s family home. The procession included the groom, his family, friends carrying umbrellas, groomsmen carrying gifts and some young children carrying lanterns. It felt exciting to take part in something so formal and many people on the street were watching us.
At the bride-to-be’s house we were met by another 30 or 40 people and there were ‘bridesmaids’ to receive the trays of gifts the groomsmen carried. After some formal greetings the main family members sat inside for a tea ceremony, while the rest of the party sat outside and shared tea and pastries. After some time, the bride appeared, dressed in a beautiful red Ao Dai. It was a very hot day and I felt sorry for the men dressed in full suits and women dressed in full Ao Dai outfits.
We then returned to the groom’s home, followed by the bride’s family, where the main family members also sat inside and shared tea. Everyone else sat outside and drank coffee and ate pastries for morning tea. Lots of friends were made and photos were taken!
I was invited to join the groom’s family for lunch, which sounded like a reasonably intimate celebration. I was quite surprised to walk into a huge marquee, which quickly filled up with around 300 people! Whereas most Western weddings last for 5 or 6 hours, Vietnamese weddings are much faster. As soon as people are seated they start drinking, and when there is limited language skills, saying cheers (Yo in Vietnamese) is a good way to break the ice. After a few short speeches, the delicious Vietnamese banquet started being served. There was lots of eating, drinking and photo taking while guests took turns to sing on stage with the band. The food came out very quickly, and after 90 minutes we were finished and people started to leave, with full bellies and happy smiles.
During the afternoon we all had an hour or two to relax before the evening celebration, which kicked off at 5:30pm. The marquee had been cleaned, tidied, re-set and again filled up, this time mainly with several hundred friends of the happy couple. The dinner celebration was similar to the lunch but a bit less formal, again with lots of food, drinks, photos, singing and dancing!
It was a very special day and I had a great time sharing it with my friends. Although in many ways different to a Western wedding, each style has its own advantages. If you are lucky enough to be invited to a Vietnamese wedding while you’re visiting Viet Nam, make sure you say yes! You are guaranteed to have a great time.