The traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important ceremonies in Vietnamese culture with influence from Confucian and Buddhist ideologies. It is a significant day not only to the couple involved but also for both families. Thus, it usually includes quite a few formal ritual observances.
Depending on habits of specific ethnic groups, marriage includes various steps and related procedures, but in general, there are two main ceremonies:
Lễ ăn hỏi (betrothal ceremony):
Normally, the bride’s and groom’s parents go to the fortuneteller to see if they are meant together and what date and time are best for the ceremonies. They strongly believe that being at the bride’s house on time will bring best of luck to the couple. On the betrothal day, they will visit the bride and her family with round lacquered boxes known as betrothal presents. It composes of areca nuts and betel leaves, tea, cake, fruits, wines and other delicacies which covered with red cloth and carried by unmarried girls or boys.
Lễ cưới (wedding ceremony):
On the wedding day, the groom's family and relatives go to the bride's house bringing a lot of gifts wrapped in red papers. These gifts are similar to those of the engagement: betel leaves and areca nuts, wines, fruits, cakes, tea ... The people holding these trays are unmarried girls or boys; the troops of people (around 10) who go with the groom’s and bride’s parents are also carefully chosen, usually happily married couples. Ladies are all dressed Áo Dài;men could be in their suits or men traditional Áo Dài. The troop is usually led by a couple that is most wealthy and successful among the relatives, this means to wish the to-be-wed couples a blessing life together in the future. The groom's family would stop in front of the bride's house. The leading couple should enter the house first with a tray with wine. They would invite the bride's parents to take a sip. By accepting the toast, the bride's family agrees for the groom’s family to enter their house. The firework is immediately fired to greet the groom's family.
The groom's family would introduce themselves and ask permission for their son to marry his bride. The master of the bride’s troop (usually a respected person among the bride's relatives) instructs the bride's parents to present their daughter. The bride then follows her parents out. She will wear red traditional wedding Áo Dài, followed by her bride maids. The couple should pray before the altar and ask their ancestors for permission for their marriage, then express their gratitude to both groom’s and bride’s parents for raising and protecting them.
Then, they bow their head to each other to show their gratitude and respect toward their soon-to-be husband or wife. The masters of the groom’s and bride’s troops would gave the wedding couple advices on starting a new family. Their parents would take turn to share their experience and give blessing. After that, the groom and the bride exchange their wedding rings and receive the gifts from their parents such as golden bracelets, ear rings, necklace... The ceremony is ended with a round applause.
After the wedding ceremony is over, there will be a party at the groom's house. Some traditional Vietnamese wedding party is celebrated at their houses (usually in country-side); other is celebrated in the restaurant. This day is the culmination of desires, day dreams, hopes and anxieties. There is a band to play music during their meal. Some guests are free to sing related wedding songs on the stage to luck the bride and the groom. In the middle of the party, the couple goes to each table to get wishes, congratulations as well as money.
Today, a lot of Vietnamese couples have their wedding ceremony done in Temples or Churches which is very much similar to American and Western style, including exchanging vows and wedding rings. However, they still maintain Vietnamese traditional ceremony in the bride's home before heading to temples or churches.