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Home Travel Guide Vietnam Travel Guide Vietnamese Wedding Traditions: Ancient Customs, Cultural Symbolism, and Family Values

Vietnamese Wedding Traditions: Ancient Customs, Cultural Symbolism, and Family Values

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Vietnamese wedding traditions involve ancient customs, cultural symbolism, and family values. They have been passed down through generations, bring together not just the couple themselves but families and communities on both sides. A traditional wedding in Vietnam is a massive celebration that can last for as long as 5-7 days.

This article will introduce you to the rich rituals and meanings behind traditional Vietnamese weddings, including pre-wedding preparations, wedding processions, and other important Vietnam marriage traditions. Whether you’re invited as a guest or a visitor to the country, it’s good to learn about these traditions for your Vietnam tour.

Choosing the Engagement and Wedding Dates

In Vietnamese wedding traditions, selecting ideal engagement and wedding dates well ahead of time are crucial. This speaks to Vietnamese people’s belief in auspicious timing. They choose specific dates to ensure a harmonious and prosperous union. The process involves a few aspects.

Astrological consultation: Couples usually consult an astrologer or fortune teller, who uses the lunar calendar to suggest dates that align with the couple’s birthdates and zodiac signs, so that these dates are favorable for bringing good fortune, happiness, and longevity to the couple.

Auspicious days: Apart from the couple themselves, choosing the dates also concerns social conventions. For example, the seventh lunar month is not a popular time for traditional Vietnam weddings, because of the “Hungry Ghost Festival.” While the first and eighth lunar months see lots of weddings for their associations with new beginnings and prosperity.

Family involvement: Deciding on the dates for the engagement and wedding ceremonies involve both families, especially the elders. This goes to show the importance of family approval and blessings in Vietnamese wedding traditions.

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Traditional Vietnamese Wedding Attire

For the bride: The traditional Vietnamese wedding dress for the bride is an áo dài, a long-sleeved tunic with a high collar. They are worn over long pants. The áo dài for weddings is often red, symbolizing good luck, happiness, prosperity. It is traditionally made of silk. On it, there are thoughtful designs. In addition, the bride may wear a khăn đóng, a traditional headdress that complements the áo dài.

For the groom: Traditional Vietnam wedding attire for the groom is also an áo dài, usually in blue or gold, which symbolize prosperity and strength. In modern weddings, it is not uncommon for the groom to wear a suit or tuxedo for some parts of the ceremony.

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The Engagement & Wedding Ceremony

The engagement and wedding ceremony is probably the most important part of Vietnamese wedding traditions, marking the union of two families and the beginning of a new journey for the bride and groom.

1. Preparations and Gathering

On the morning of the wedding, the groom’s family and friends gather at his home. Often in traditional attire, they prepare ceremonial gifts in decorated boxes. These gifts include betel leaves, areca nuts, tea, wine, fruits, cakes, and other symbolic items.

2. Starting the Procession

The procession begins with the groom’s party making their way to the bride’s house. The journey is often accompanied by traditional music and sometimes, a small parade of cars. In some regions, the procession may be on foot.

By Vietnamese wedding traditions, members of the groom’s party, usually male relatives and friends, carry the boxes with gifts. The number of boxes is traditionally an odd number to bring good luck.

3. Arrival at the Bride’s House

Upon arriving at the bride’s house, the groom’s party is greeted by her family. They present their gifts to show respect and goodwill. The gifts are accepted by the bride’s family to indicate their approval.

4. The Tea Ceremony

The groom and his party are then invited into the house, where the main ceremonies take place. The bride, in her traditional áo dài, is introduced to his family.

Both families gather in front of the family altar to pay respects to their ancestors, an important step of Vietnamese wedding tradition. Incense is lit, with offerings of food, tea, wine. The couple asks for blessings of the ancestors.

The bride and groom then serve tea to their parents to express gratitude for raising them; it is usually a very emotional moment. Parents give their advice and blessings.

5. Exchange of Rings and Jewelry

In a manner similar to Western weddings, the couple exchanges wedding rings, to show their commitment and love. At this time, the groom’s family may also present the bride with jewelry, such as gold necklaces, bracelets, earrings. These gifts show their acceptance and blessings for her.

6. Departing to the Groom’s House

After the ceremonies at the bride’s home, she bids farewell to her family. She heads to the groom’s home in a second procession, marking her transition from her birth family to her new family.

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Vietnamese Wedding Ceremony
Vietnamese Wedding Ceremony - Tea Ceremony

Vietnamese Wedding Reception

After the wedding ceremony, the wedding reception is also an important part of Vietnam marriage traditions. It is a joyous celebration for the couple’s union. There are gorgeous decorations, delicious food, and entertainment activities.

1. Preparations and Arrival

The reception venue, often a banquet hall or a large restaurant, is decorated with flowers and lights. Popular elements of Vietnamese wedding traditions like red and gold are common to symbolize happiness and prosperity.

Guests begin to arrive at the venue typically about an hour before the reception starts. They are greeted by the couple’s family. They sign the guest book and leave their gifts, usually envelopes with money.

2. Welcoming the Bride and Groom

The bride and groom make a grand entrance into the reception hall, accompanied by music, applause, even a spotlight. They are sometimes escorted by flower girls and boys. The couple, with their parents, stands in a line to personally welcome and thank each guest who has come to celebrate them.

3. Opening the Reception

A master of ceremonies (MC) kicks off the event with a warm welcome and introduces the couple. The MC then guides the proceedings according to schedule. Parents and close family members from both sides give speeches, with blessings and heartfelt wishes for the couple’s future. This is another emotional part of Vietnamese wedding traditions.

4. The Banquet

The banquet is a highlight of the reception, as well as an important part of wedding customs in Vietnam. There is usually a wide range of traditional Vietnamese dishes including seafoods, roasted meats, noodles, soups, desserts. The lavish meal symbolizes abundance and prosperity.

Throughout the meal, there are a number of toasts. The couple, their parents, and guests raise their glasses to wish the newlyweds happiness, health, and success. You’re likely to hear the Vietnamese toast “Một, hai, ba, dzô!” (One, two, three, cheers!)

5. Entertainment

Traditional and Modern Performances: There are lots of entertainment during the reception to add to the joyful occasion. Common forms include traditional Vietnamese music and dance, along with modern performances. This can range from live bands and singers to cultural dance troupes.

Bride and Groom’s First Dance: The couple’s first dance is a special moment, often accompanied by a favorite or romantic tune. This dance in Vietnamese wedding traditions symbolizes their first steps together as a married couple.

Games: Some receptions also have interactive games that engage the guests. They add more elements of fun to the evening as drinking and cheering continue. These can be trivia about the couple or traditional Vietnamese games.

6. Cake Cutting and Bouquet Toss

A highlight in the reception is cutting of the wedding cake. The bride and groom cut it together to symbolize their shared future. Another Western tradition adopted by some Vietnamese weddings is tossing the bouquet. The bride tosses her bouquet to a single woman, and the groom tosses the garter to a single man. It adds a playful element to the celebration.

Vietnamese Cuisine at Weddings

Food is a vital component of Vietnamese wedding traditions. The wedding banquet has a variety of traditional dishes that symbolize prosperity, happiness, good fortune for the newlyweds and their families. Make sure you try these classic dishes when you travel to Vietnam.

Gỏi Cuốn (Spring Rolls): They are fresh and flavorful, typically contain shrimp, pork, vermicelli, and herbs, wrapped in rice paper. They come with a peanut dipping sauce. They are probably the staple at Vietnamese celebrations.

Cá Hấp (Steamed Fish): Fish is a symbol of prosperity and is often served whole in Vietnam, while steamed with ginger, scallions, soy sauce.

Bánh Phu Thê: Also known as “husband and wife cake,” this dessert symbolizes marital harmony. It is made from mung bean paste and coconut wrapped in green leaves.

Cognac: Cognac has become a part of Vietnamese wedding traditions symbolizing wealth. It is often used for toasts at the reception.

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Financial Responsibilities

In Vietnam marriage traditions, the financial responsibilities of the wedding are often shared between both families. The groom’s family usually covers the cost of engagement gifts, the bride price (a gesture of respect and gratitude), and the wedding ceremony. While the bride’s family hosts the reception.

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