The wedding is one of the most influential parts of Vietnamese culture. There are two typical main stages for a modern Vietnamese wedding. The first one is the engagement ceremony. The ceremony traditionally occurs half a year or so before the wedding, but the time had been reduced to fit today’s lifestyles. Nowadays, the engagement ceremony usually occurs on the same day right before the wedding for city folks since they don’t have the time for celebrations spread over several days. In the countryside, it usually occurs 2 or 3 days before the wedding.
The engagement ceremony is used to introduce the bride and the groom to the two families. Thus, attendees for the ceremony are family members and friends of the bride and the groom. In the ceremony, the groom’s family will bring gifts to the bride’s home. The offerings consist of various items, such as the betel leaves and areca nuts, “bánhcốm”, lotus jam, fruits, tea, etc.
Typically, the groom’s side will have male attendees carrying the gifts. When they arrive at the bride’s home, they will be greeted by the bride’s attendants, who are all female. Then, the groom’s family will hand the gifts to the bride’s family, but since some are usually heavy, the males can carry them.
After the gifts are offered, the groom’s family can enter the house. Meanwhile, the bride has to wait inside the house until the groom gets in or her parents call her. Then, the bride and groom will pray to the altars, announcing their marriage, exchange wedding rings, and pay their respects to the elders of their family, usually the parents.
After the ceremony, families can proceed with wedding ceremonies depending on their beliefs or religions. For Catholic families, if the bride and groom have already exchanged rings in the engagement ceremony, they can repeat the act again in church.