Vietnamese wedding customs
The traditional wedding customs
research by PXK
The traditional wedding customs for the Vietnamese are deeply seeded in Chinese rituals and Confucian morality. Each custom is designed to bring eternal happiness to the couple and a strong union between the families. Many of the ancient traditional Vietnamese wedding customs are still honored in today's culture. There are, however, certain customs that have become more modernized over the years.
In the olden days the bride and groom were chosen for each other by the families. It was not surprising to find that a bride and groom only just met each other on the day of their engagement or marriage.This was to keep the upper society intermixed, and keep the poor out of their family line. The union of the couple was not only to bring them together to create a good life, but to establish an alliance between the two families. Nowadays, couples are allowed to choose their own mates, but they still have to gain approval from both families before the union can take place. Wedding preparations are decided upon by the entire family, on both sides, which sometimes makeswedding plans hard to agree upon
The traditional Vietnamese wedding consists of six stages, as follows:
nạp thái – The groom's family pays a visit to the bride's family to ask for the marriage to be accepted. This is a brief, but formal meeting between the two families. As a symbol of his sincerity, the groom must present the bride with betel leaves and betel nuts during this initial meeting. These items represent a bond of marriage that cannot be broken.
vấn danh – This is the time that the two families get to know each other more intimately.The couple has not formally received the blessing of the bride's parents at this point.
nạp cát – This is when the groom's family presents the bride's family with the wedding plans. The bride's family then decides whether or not they accept the plans, and will give their daughter's hand in marriage.
thinh ky –The bride's family now announces their decision of whether or not to give their daughter's hand in marriage. This is a formal announcement made to the groom's family.
nạp lệ – If the bride's parents consent to the marriage, then this stage is when the family announces what things are necessary for the bride to have at the wedding and to appoint a date and time when the groom's family may bring them gifts.
Thân nghênh – This represents the time when the wedding rituals are performed before ancestral altars. The couple officially become husband and wife at this point.
It was believed in olden days that breaking any of these stages would be disastrous for the families.
These include vấn danh, nạp lệ and thân nghênh.This is in order to save the families time and money.These three stages are also called chạm ngơ ( v ấn danh), ăn hỏi (nạp lệ) lễ cưới (thân nghênh)Nạp lệ (the engagement ceremony) takes place usually half a year or so before thân nghênh ( wedding ceremony).
Preparations for the traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony first begins by choosing a date and time for the marriage ceremony. Before the wedding day, the groom's family would make a trip to the bride's home with a gift of betel nuts to officially ask permission to receive the bride. At this time, the bride's family would confirm the wedding and further proceedings would take place.
On the day of the wedding, the procession of the groom's family is led in specific order. The first person would be the representative of the groom's house followed by the groom's father, the groom, then the rest of his family and close friends The number of people participating in the groom's procession varies but is usually restricted to a smaller number (20 or so) to make it easier on the bride's family, which must receive all the guests
In the procession, the groom, his family and friends bear elaborately decorated lacquer boxes, covered in red cloth. Inside these boxes are gifts representing the wealth that the groom's family will bring to the bride's family. Gifts are betel, fruit, cakes, a roast pig, fabric, and an abundance of jewelry for the bride. Usually, the number of gift boxes varies between 6 or 8, but never 7 or 9 since it is seen as bad luck. However, it depends on personal view and might be reduced to 2-3 boxes.
the procession lights fireworks to alert the bride's family, who then lights its own round of firecrackers to welcome the groom's procession. Members of the procession are introduced to the bride's family, and the bride's family introduces its members to the procession. The representative of the groom's house presents the gifts to the bride's family, The respected person among the bride's relatives plays the role of The Master of the Ceremony instructs the bride's parents to present their daughter. The bride then follows her mother out. She is in Vietnamese traditional wedding Áo Dài which is usually in red. Followed are her bride maids. The wedding ceremony starts in front of the ancestors' altar. The bride and groom burn incense sticks. The bride and the groom would kneel down and pray, asking their ancestors' permission to be married, also asking for blessing on their family-to-be ( Ancestral Rite).After that, they bow their head to each other, which means to show their gratitude and respect toward their soon-to-behusband or wife. They then exchange their wedding rings (Conjugal Rite). The couple then turn around and bow down to the bride's parents to say thank for raising and protecting her since birth ( Filial Rite).
The groom and the bride's parents would take turn to share their experience and give blessing. Each parent will then give advice about marriage and family to the couple The parents will give the newly wedded value gifts such as golden bracelets, ear rings, necklace.... The groom's gift boxes filled with jewelry will be opened by the groom's mother, who will then put each piece on the bride for good fortune. A candle ceremony will follow, symbolizing the joining of the bride and groom and the joining of the two families. Now it's time for the bride and groom to serve tea or wine to their parents as well as their guests.
As the procession arrives back at the groom's house, the groom's family members that did not take part in the procession but remained at home will light firecrackers in celebration. The newlyweds will be brought to the ancestors' altar, where another ancestor ceremony takes place and the bride is introduced to the groom's relatives. Finally, the bride is brought to the couple's room and introduced to their marriage bed.
Following the ceremony at the groom's house, all of the bride and groom's family and friends are invited to a reception that traditionally takes place at the groom's house. At one point during the reception, the bride and groom will go from table-to-table to thank guests for their blessings and to receive gifts from guests. These gifts are traditionally in the form of money in envelopes. Immediate family members usually give more money to the bride and groom. Occasionally, the family and guests' monetary gifts will cover more than the cost of the wedding and reception.
For women, traditional clothes of Vietnam have always been very diverse depending on the era and occasion. In the olden days the bride simply wore fancy, elaborate versions of Áo tứ thân. But in the twentieth century women began to wear elaborate Áo dài for their weddings. These dresses were modeled after the Áo mệnh phụ (royal Áo dài) of Nguyễn Dynasty court ladies. The style of the Nguyễn Dynasty has remained popular and is still used in current-day Vietnamese wedding attire. The difference between the Áo mệnh phụ and the typical Áo dài is the elaborateness of its design. The former is usually embroidered with imperial symbols such as the phoenix and includes an extravagant outer cloak. This gown is preferably in red or pink, and the bride usually wears a Khăn đống headdress.
The groom wears a simpler male equivalent of the dress, often in the color blue.
Some special features
-No religious infusion in the traditional wedding customs
The Vietnamese Catholic family in the rural area has a wedding mass at church in the morning for the purpose of asking God to bless the marriage life. This religious ceremony does not change anything about the proceedings of the traditional wedding day. Generally, the traditional wedding ceremony starts at noon.
-Some decorations in the homes of both the bride and groom.
They usually include lanterns, doves, initials of the couple, among other things. However, one symbol that is indispensable are the words "song hỷ." as the character 囍
-The bride's change of dress during the reception of the current-day Vietnamese wedding ceremony in the city
In modern weddings, brides usually change into three different gowns during the reception. Her dresses are usually composed of the Western white wedding gown, a second Western dress to be worn at the end of the evening during the dancing, and a third traditional Áo dài to be worn during the traditional table visits to personally thank the guests for coming.
What are Vietnamese wedding traditions? They involve more than just two people joining their lives. The families of the bride and groom see a wedding as a time when two families blend together as well. With several lovely customs and rituals that take place at a Vietnamese wedding, the event is a time to witness two lives joining as one.
The bride dresses in traditional Vietnamese wedding attire, essentially a formal "ao dai" or long dress. The wedding dress is made of silk and fits over loose trousers. Wedding dresses are generally made of many layers of rich material and can be red or pink. An elaborate headdress called a "khan dong" adorns her head. The groom wears traditional clothing in blue. Gold silk thread often decorates both types of wedding clothing, creating the couple's names, Chinese symbols or other images of love and beauty.
On the morning of the wedding, a procession led by the groom's representative (usually a male relative) and followed by the groom and his family, go to the brides house carrying decorative umbrellas and gifts. Fireworks are often lit to scare away evil spirits. Then the couple kneels before the alter in the bride's home and prays to their ancestors for blessings. The bride and groom then serve tea to their parents, and several speeches are given about marriage and family. A candle ceremony is held, symbolizing the union of two people into one lifeAt the wedding reception, it is traditional to give money in red envelopes to the bride and groom. This is a custom originally from China that symbolizes prosperity and good luck. Elaborate feasts are prepared, often several courses. Vietnamese wedding traditions about food are largely symbolic, usually representing happiness or fertility. Lobster, seafood and roasted pork and duck are common, with rice dishes, shark fin soup, bean soup sea cucumber and vegetables and noodles.
One day before the ceremony, both families build a frame made from coconut leaves in front of their houses. On the top of each frame, there is a small red board with these words in yellow: TAN HON at the groom's house and VU QUY at the bride's house. On the day of the ceremony, all the groom's family have to go to the bride's home on time because they chose the good time some months ago. The traditional gifts include betel and areca-nut, cake, and fruit. Then, the groom and the bride worship at the altar of ancestors. Next, the bride puts the ring onto the bride's finger, earrings into her ears, and a necklace onto her neck. The cost of jewelry depends on the groom's finances. The bride also puts a ring onto the groom's finger.
After that, he brings her to his house. They sometimes have a small meal at the bride's house. On that evening, they have a wedding party at a restaurant with their relatives and friends. There is usually a band to play music during their mean. In the middle of the meal, the couple go around and go to each table to get wishes and gifts or money from their relatives and friends.
In conclusion, after the party, the bride belongs to the groom's family, and she will live with the groom for the rest of her life if nothing wrong happens to their life!!