14 May 2014

A Vietnamese wedding (Hanoi, 30 April 2014)

Saturday, Feb 8th, 2014.  Footy o'clock.  Halfway through cleaning out my second tub of Pringles - six pieces at a time, invariably - and as my beloved Liverpool FC were running riot over perennial also-rans Arsenal early on at Anfield, I received this message on my Facebook.  It was Chi, a very dear friend from Hanoi, Vietnam and someone whom I affectionately regard as the cuddleable baby sister I never had.

Oh my god, Chi's getting married!  To say that I was elated for her is an understatement.  Of course I'll come!  After all, it's not everyday that one gets to witness first-hand a traditional Vietnamese wedding.... in Vietnam.  Moreover, I'd promised Chi and Son, her then-boyfriend, during my first visit to Hanoi a year and a half earlier that I would definitely fly over when they tie the knot.  For my wife Oi Len and I, this was always going to be a no-brainer; another holiday and a wedding to boot.  Hanoi, here we come..... again! 

We were invited to not one, but three events held in conjunction with Chi's wedding.  The first on April 28th was a lunch banquet in Hanoi where mainly the bride's colleagues, friends and relatives were invited.  Two days later, we attended the wedding ceremony proper and thereafter travelled to the province of Nam Dinh, 90km southeast of Hanoi and the groom's hometown, for another banquet held for Son's relations and friends.  For my wife and I, it was a new experience and one which we'll never forget.  Here is a photo synopsis of what we witnessed at a Vietnamese wedding.  Enjoy.

Oi Len and I with the newlyweds at the banquet held at
Trong Dong Palace, Hanoi; Chi looking lovelier than a rose.

Oi Len and I were seated together with Chi's friends; I was the thorn among the roses

Nice and posh setup at the Hanoi banquet

The feast

April 30th; early morning preparations on wedding day
at the bride's house in Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

Oi Len and I arrived early at Chi's house on wedding day.  The beautiful
young lady (peace!) is Nga, Chi's university mate and our guide for the day.

Arrival of the groom at Chi's residence

A common tradition in many Asian cultures, the bride's father (standing)
seeking understanding, patience and pardon from his new in-laws
for any shortcomings on the part of his daughter

In return, an elder from the groom's family (in this case, Son's uncle) welcomes
the bride to their family and gives his assurance that she will be well-looked after

Words of advice, wisdom and well wishes from
Chi's mother before giving her baby girl away

The serving of tea to elders is customary and a gesture of respect 

The newlyweds and Chi's parents then adjourn upstairs for prayers to seek
blessings from their ancestors for a long and happy union

The bride then leaves her family home with her husband

Off to Nam Dinh province, Son's hometown

Typical countryside scene en route to Nam Dinh

A brief stop at Son's house in Nam Dinh - again for prayers - before
proceeding to the restaurant where the second banquet is held

Bride and groom entering the banquet hall in Nam Dinh

Pyrotechnics at the banquet to celebrate the newlyweds;
a first for Oi Len and I at a wedding banquet

.... followed by a confetti shower

.... the exchange of wedding bands
(flanked by Chi's dad and Son's mum)

.... and finally the cutting of cake; grand stuff.

Lunch is served

Unique Vietnamese fare served at the banquet

Time to feast and be merry; Chi's university mates at our table,
all of whom are proficient in English

Group photo with the newlyweds and new friends made

Despite the bride and groom's modern, Western-style dressing, the matrimonial ceremonies were very much conducted in traditional fashion with all customary Vietnamese traditions and practices duly observed (personally, I found the meeting of elders on wedding day particularly interesting).  All in all, the wedding was an eye-opener for both Oi Len and I and we feel blessed to have had the opportunity to witness one up close and personal.  The fact that it was Chi's of course made the experience that much more meaningful.

One for the road with Chi before saying our goodbyes

Many have asked how I came to know Chi (and on being told, some have found it hard to believe).  Well, we first "met" through Facebook some four years ago - two total strangers who'd eventually become far more than what one might describe as just good friends.  Both she and Son were most gracious hosts when Oi Len and I first visited Hanoi back in October 2012 and a special kind of friendship has developed between us since.  To us, Chi will always be far more than just a friend.

Thank you, Chi, for inviting us to your beautiful wedding.  In some ways, you've become like family to us, separated only by that insignificant thing called Distance.  We love you and our very best wishes to you and Son as the both of you embark on a new life journey together.  Until we meet again, from my wife and I, cảm ơn bạn, tạm biệt và chúc may mắn (thank you, goodbye and good luck).

Did you enjoy reading this blog post?  Have you attended a Vietnamese wedding before?  If so, do share your experience(s).


  1. Loved reading this and the photos are lovely! Thank you for sharing your experience!

    1. As always, thank you, Kay Dee. It was indeed quite an experience for us. Compared to Chinese weddings, theirs are less elaborate but just as much a spectacle. We enjoyed every moment of our second visit to Hanoi.

  2. ".... separated only by that insignificant thing called Distance..." Its always an amazing feeling seeing ur inspirational words..And the truth is that I enjoyed my friend 's wedding party at Trong Dong palace last Sunday .Ur words make my day......Always a pleasure to make friends with u and maybe someday, somewhere, somehow u gonna be in my wedding party.....Hahaha....Tks u Vince....

  3. One more thingy I tell u, ur English is so Fabulous.....I once thought ur a native speaker at the first time viewing ur profile.....Keep it up buddy.....Well done Vince.......