They often incorporate ancestor worship at the bride or groom’s house (or a church-based ceremony for Vietnamese Catholics), as well as tea ceremonies as a symbol of respect towards their elders.
While ceremonies asking permission to receive the bride are often omitted from modern day Vietnamese weddings, the bride’s arrival at the groom’s house and tea ceremony are still incorporated, sometimes on the day of the wedding itself and sometimes in place of an engagement ceremony. Many Vietnamese couples also opt for a traditional Western wedding ceremony or Catholic Mass, followed by a lavish reception where no expense is spared.
With customs that lie in the arranged marriages of years gone by, Vietnamese weddings today fuse elements of Mahayana Buddhism, Catholicism and Western wedding traditions.
In Vietnamese tradition, it’s a Buddhist monk or spiritual leader who will decide on the time and date for the wedding ceremony. In the lead up to the wedding, the family of the groom would visit the bride’s home with a gift (usually betel nuts) to officially ask for her hand.
While most marriages had already been arranged by the families, this ceremony was to confirm that it would be taking place (and check in if the bride had fled from an arranged marriage she didn’t want!).
The day of the wedding itself begins with the groom’s family processing through the streets to the bride’s house, with a respected elder of the groom’s house leading the way. In days gone by, the mother of the groom would not take part as a sign she wouldn’t be a “threat” to the new bride and would sometimes even hide after the bride was welcomed into the groom’s home for some time.
Members of the procession would carry beautifully decorated lacquer boxes covered in red cloth and bearing gifts that reflected the wealth of the groom’s family. Interestingly, the number of gift boxes was always an odd number, with this (together with the color red) believed to bring good luck to the new couple. Fireworks would be set off to herald their arrival, with the bride’s family lighting their own firecrackers to welcome the procession.
After members of both families were introduced, the groom would present the gifts and finally be given permission to greet his bride. A permission ceremony would then take place in front of the bride’s ancestor altar, with incense burnt for the blessing of ancestors before the bride and groom bow towards their parents in thanks for safely raising them.
A formal tea ceremony would then take place, with the bride and groom offering tea to their parents in a gesture of respect before the parents provided some advice about marriage and family life to the couple. Candles would then be lit to symbolize the union of the bride and groom before the gift boxes of jewelry were opened by the groom’s mother who would traditionally put each piece on the bride in a gesture of good fortune.
The bride would then be escorted back to the groom’s home where the couple would be greeted by firecrackers in celebration. The newlyweds would then stand before the groom’s ancestor altar to conduct another ceremony before being introduced to the extended relatives of the groom who did not take part in the procession.
In Vietnamese culture, the reception was traditionally held at the groom’s house following the final ceremony, with the family and friends on both sides invited. These days, however, receptions often take place at a restaurant or banquet hall and are lavish affairs, with elaborate multi-course meals that reflect the wealth of the families. Lobster and seafood hot pot are often served, followed by fruit platters and dessert.
In place of wedding gifts, it’s customary for guests to give an envelope of money, which is considered a symbol of prosperity, happiness, and to ward off evil spirits. At some point during the reception, the couple will go from table to table to personally greet their guests and receive the cards and gifts, although in recent years, many couples opt to have a box at the sign-in table where guests can leave their gifts.
Vietnamese brides are known for their multiple changes of outfits during the reception, which normally begins in a Western-style white wedding gown. She’ll often change into a traditional Vietnamese ao dai for the table visits before a glamorous evening gown to wear during the dancing.
• Filled with ritual and respect for elders, we love the traditions of Vietnamese ceremonies and capturing these moments through engaging and beautiful photographs that will last a lifetime.
• We understand that each of the ceremonies you select are a reflection of your family traditions and feel honored to be a part of this special day.
• Vietnamese wedding receptions are often lavish affairs, with no expense spared, and we love to capture all the glamorous details so you can remember them for many years to come.
We know that Vietnamese weddings are often large affairs with hundreds of guests, so we always bring a team of photographers to ensure we can capture each and every moment.
We always have a meeting with our couples before their wedding to ensure we understand each and every element of their Vietnamese wedding plans and are ready to photograph it creatively and beautifully.
We understand the symbolism intertwined with Vietnamese weddings and strive to capture all the decor and moments that reflect this.
From showing humble respect to your parents during the tea ceremony to all the celebration of your reception dance floor, we carefully plan where we need to be and when to document all the emotion of your special day.
We understand that the bride may be changing into multiple outfits and ensure we set aside plenty of time to capture these in the most atmospheric light possible.
If you’re having a Catholic wedding ceremony in a dimly-lit church, we have high-quality camera equipment, including fast lenses and state-of-the-art lighting, to ensure we can capture all the rites and rituals while respecting your church’s photography rules.
• Due to the large scale of most Vietnamese weddings and the multiple ceremonies that take place, we highly recommend you hire a wedding planner to take care of all the logistical details. This will ensure your wedding day runs as smoothly as possible, allowing you to relax and just soak up each and every moment.
• Decide on which Vietnamese wedding rituals you want to incorporate or are reflective of your family’s traditions, then discuss with your wedding planner how to best fuse these with any Western traditions you’d like included.
• If photography is a high priority for you and your partner, make sure you schedule in plenty of time in your wedding day schedule so we can capture all the gorgeous decor and details you have selected, not to mention beautiful couple portraits in all of your bridal outfits.
• In our final meeting, please let us know all of the traditional elements and details you have decided to incorporate to ensure we are in the right place at the right time to capture them beautifully.
• If you’re having multiple ceremonies, make sure you clearly indicate to your wedding guests on their invites which ones they are welcome to attend, as well as the dress code, particularly if they haven’t taken part in a Vietnamese wedding before!