Cultural values of traditional Vietnamese wedding

The traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important ceremonies in Vietnamese culture.

A Vietnamese traditional wedding. (Photo: Vu Khanh)

It consists of an engagement ceremony taking place usually half a year or so before the wedding. A marriage ceremony includes asking permission to ‘receive’ the bride, receiving the bride at her house, bringing the bride to the groom's house, and the reception for the bride and groom's family and friends.

Traditional symbols of Vietnamese marriage are a couple of pigeons, betel leaves and areca nut and the indispensable words "song hy” (double joys). This phrase as Chinese characters 囍 shows the joy for the both families.

At the wedding, members of both families often wear ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) and khan dong (headdress). The bride and groom’s attire are brighter and more brilliant than everyone else’s.

The marriage ceremony is held in front of the ancestor altars at homes of both families. On the morning of the wedding day, the groom’s family will bring gifts, including betel leaves and areca nuts, wine, tea, fruits, cakes, a roasted pig and a pair of big dragon and phoenix candles which are placed in boxes covered in red cloth.

Candle lighting is one of the most important rites. An old man who has a good manner of speaking and high status in the family will represent the groom's house to burn the candles and pray for happiness, luck and prosperity.

The light represents life, faith, wisdom, love, and earth and sky. After which, the couple’s thoughts shall be for each other rather than for themselves. Their joys and sorrows shall be shared alike.

The marriage ceremony is held in front of the ancestor altars at home of both families. (Photo Vu Khanh)

The groom and bride will exchange wedding rings. The groom’s mother gives her daughter-in-law jewelry, including gold bracelets, earrings and other valuable gifts. Members of the two families will also wish the newly wedded couple a long and happy life and offers them presents and money.

After bringing the bride to the groom's house, an elderly kind-hearted woman who has a happy life and many descendants will spread a sedge mat on the couple’s bed in order to bring luck.

Today, a Vietnamese wedding organized according to traditional manners and customs has gradually fallen into oblivion. It only exists in a few rural areas.

Most modern Vietnamese weddings reduce some traditional ceremonies. The reception occurs immediately after the procession ceremony, often at a restaurant or a banquet hall in the afternoon or evening, instead of taking place at either couple's house.

The couple will be recognized in law as husband and wife after receiving the marriage certificate. However, according to national culture, the wedding with the attendance of both families, all relatives, friends, and neighbors is conclusive proof to recognize them as a married couple.

Nowadays a lot of Vietnamese couples have been influenced by Western styles, including wearing white wedding dresses and black tuxedos. But they still choose Vietnamese traditional wedding costumes for traditional ceremonies.

Vietnamese traditional weddings attract many foreign visitors. A problem with a modern wedding is that the party does not usually take place on time. It takes 1-2 hours to receive guests and then the wedding ceremony can start.

By Staff writers – Translated by Vu Khanh

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