Today I experienced my very first Vietnamese wedding! My manager handed me the invitation last week and said ‘You will come to my wedding’. A little presumptuous I thought, but there was no way I was going to turn down this opportunity. I got pretty excited in the run up; I’d heard stories of some pretty crazy Vietnamese traditions which I couldn’t wait to witness. An example of which is a game of ‘spin the bottle’, but rather than a bottle, a chicken head, balanced on a stick, is used as the spinning device and whoever its beak points to has to drink. Seriously.


On arrival at the 5* Hotel (classy!), Tom and I were greeted by none other than the bride and groom and were pounced on for a photo opportunity – all the while being videoed by a family member who was a little too eager to impress. The element of surprise surrounding the bride was entirely non-existent, and while she looked stunning in her white dress, I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t the traditional Vietnamese Áo dài. I also noticed that the rings had already been exchanged. Turns out, all official wedding duties are conducted months before the actual celebration; including all the wedding photographs which were projected on screens around the ballroom.

Once we were seated, and after a few awkward introductions, the ceremony began on a small stage at the front of the function room – 6 young girls dressed as angels (imagine the nativity outfits worn at a Christian Primary School and you’re pretty much there) began an Irish Jig-esque dance routine. The bride and groom then appeared and introduced the audience to their parents – who sat on thrones (literally) on either side of the couple. After a quick speech by the father of the groom, the couple proceeded to pour red wine into a fountain of wine glasses (just imagine the devastation had some splashed on her dress…).  Next was the cutting of a pretty impressive, multi-layered cake. I’d heard some exciting rumours that usually a plastic cake is used, just for show, as it’s a Western tradition anyway. So I thought the staging of the photo would have been hilarious. But, they actually had a real cake, which excited me greatly until they didn’t share it with any of the guests. How rude.

Angelic Bridesmaids

After a quick speech by the chef (?), the first dish of our 7 course meal was served. The food was delicious and included some traditional delights such as phở and a whole lot of seafood; followed, of course, by a slice of boiled pig skin – because what wedding is complete without a delicious slice of skin? During the meal, and after 2 dress changes, the bride and groom wandered around to each table where we all had to stage a cheering of glasses for the photographer – it all felt a little forced and awkward but at least I finally had my chance to congratulate the pair.


Once the meal was over, people immediately began leaving. Waiters actually started clearing the tables and the music was, fairly abruptly, silenced. I couldn’t believe it, we’d only been there 2 hours. There was no ‘you may now kiss the bride’, no wedding dance, no other speeches and certainly no confetti. I was just getting into the swing of things, ready for a right ol’ boogie. The waiters had been walking around filling up everyone’s glasses with free beer, so I was certainly on my way towards a raucous time. In hindsight, I now realise why the table next to us kept doing toasts every 10 minutes and downing their beers. At first I thought they were being a little irresponsible, but now I realise that they were just trying to make the most of the free beer – I wish I’d gotten involved with them a little more now.

All in all, it wasn’t quite the traditional Vietnamese wedding I was hoping for, there wasn’t even a chicken head to play spin the bottle! But as far as weddings go, it was a very enjoyable 2 hours. It did however leave me thinking that the £60 I spent on a tailored dress for the occasion was just a little extravagant…


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ponnu Elizabeth
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 23:12:48

    Though I’ve not been part of a Vietnamese wedding, I could see loads of couples clicking pictures outside the Notre-Dame Basilica in Ho Chi Minh City. Quite lovely to watch. The basilica in the backdrop makes classic wedding pictures for a lot of them.


    • kerril29
      Jul 18, 2013 @ 10:33:42

      Yes, I’ve seen people do that too – I heard that the wedding photos are actually taken a couple of months before the ceremony. At the wedding I attended, they had all theirs on a projected screen. So different to the British weddings I’m used to!


  2. jashuynh
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 13:58:26

    I can’t stop nodding my head and find it really interesting to know a westerner’s view on a Vietnamese wedding party (actually, I couldn’t agree more). Yet, as I say ‘wedding party’ so this is just a purely party with no rings exchanged in front of guests (like in Western). The whole procedure is done usually in the morning of the wedding party day,or in several months like your manager’s, and it is called ancestral ceremony. Only relatives or real-closed friends of the two families are invited, even if there is a church ceremony after that. There is no ‘you may kiss the bride’ but the couple may kiss their cheeks.

    Since the Vietnamese does not have common practice of being formal for the other’s wedding party but pay attention to the feast (of course there are some exceptions if the guests are closed to both families). So… sorry for your 60 pound tailored dress :”>

    Just in case you don’t know yet, the wedding party of the youth is westernized nowadays, you should try someone younger than your boss 😉

    p/s: I like your writing, very mocking style :))


    • kerril29
      Aug 06, 2013 @ 14:20:15

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It’s interesting to hear a locals viewpoint. Even though I mocked a lot about the wedding in my blog, I still really enjoyed the day! It was a fantastic experience. So glad you enjoyed reading it, hopefully I will continue to entertain in the future 🙂


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