So the day has come to for the engagement.. I’m a bit nervous not because I’m afraid of getting married, but because I’m not Vietnamese…. and as a Filipino, we don’t have a traditional ceremony that has very important rituals that has flows and must be followed strictly according to their culture.
Before the engagement day, each family chooses a representative. This person can be a member of the family or a close family friend which has a happy life and a highly respected member of the family or circle of friends. Since none of my fiancée’s family can speak proper english, our representative is a good friend theirs and everything has to be in Vietnamese… we do have a translator who is a close friend of my fiancée.The purpose of the representatives are of course, to do representation, exchange gifts, basically controlling the flow of the ceremony.As the time has come to go my fiancée’s home, we started to line-up into 10 people. The first person would be the “Representative” of our group, to the second was my father and the third line was my mom. After my mom it was me and the rest are friends and family members carrying gifts like the ones shown below.
Both families also choose 5, 7 or 9 people who bring and receive the gifts. These people must be young and not marriage. Boys represent for fiancé bearing the gifts and girls represent for fiancée receiving the gifts. For this day, we have 10 people due to the reason of 10 as being like the maximum number, which could mean the biggest or the greatest number…
As we reached her home, we are greeted by her parents and her family. The people in our group carefully placed the gifts near the table. The table is rectangular in shape. it is nicely covered in white and flower design.
The gifts are prepared by my family several days before the engagement ceremony. Traditionally the gifts was placed a number of trays. The number must be an odd number 5, 7 or 9… trays depends on the condition of the fiancé family. The gifts are covered by the red color paper or cloth. In our case, we decided to have 5 trays.
In Vietnamese beliefs, the odd number and the red color will bring luck to the young couple. The gifts include betel leaves, areca nut fruits (trầu, cau), wine, tea, husband-wife cake (bánh phu thê) and sticky rice… one of the most important gift is the whole roasted pig which placed in a large tray.
Besides choosing the representatives, both families sit together to negotiate the dowry and the good date and time for the actual wedding ceremony. The time is chosen very carefully based on the propitious time and day of lunar calendar.
Once everyone was seated, the representative in our side began with the introduction, and the my fiancée and I are called to step in front.
After they received the gifts, me and my fiancée then headed upstairs where her family’s altar is placed. The purpose of is to pray and ask for approval from her ancestors.
After the ritual finishes, me, my fiancée, and our parents headed downstairs, back to the meeting table. After everyone was seated besides us, our representatives introduced the member of both families in an order.
After the introduction by our representative, my father started his introduction speech with the help on an interpreter, he then proposed the date and time of the wedding to the family of my fiancée which is going to be held on 26-November-2017. My fiancée’s family didn’t have any objections, so it was agreed to have the wedding ceremony on that day.
After the date has been agreed, the ceremony then proceeds with wine drinking. It starts with I pouring a spirit wine into two small cups, then me and my fiancée then gave the cups to our fathers for them to drink, then our moms…. after that… to the people in my group… and then finally to the people in my fiancée’s group.
After the wine drinking, both family then enjoyed the party which was prepared by my family. It is also expected that some of gifts are to be returned to the fiancé’s family for luck before the fiancé’s family leaves, so we carried some of the gifts with us.
After the engagement ceremony to the wedding ceremony, the next step would be for our family bring the wedding cards with gifts to our friends, family members… and sometimes with cakes to neighbors to invite them to our wedding party.
Just to wrap it up, it was a serious and wonderful experience… I mean, in my culture it is more like westernized… we don’t follow any kind of steps or procedures in the engagement ceremony… but anyway… Me and my fiancée are both very happy… we are just one more step away from being husband and wife 😀