Vietnamese Wedding Traditions and Customs
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. The idea behind the ancient
traditions is that a marriage bring about propriety and a conjugal life.
Choosing a Mate
In the olden days the bride and groom were chosen for each
other by the families. 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 makes wedding plans hard to agree upon.
The Six Stages of a Wedding
The traditional Vietnamese wedding consists of six stages,
nap thai – 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.
van 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.
nap cat – 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
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.
nap te – 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.
nghenh – 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. As times have changed, so have wedding customs.
Now only three of the six stages are necessary. These include nap thai,
van danh, and than nghenh.
This is in order to save the families time and money.
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. In modern times, some things have changed
in these customs, but the Vietnamese people still hold true to honoring some of