Getting Out Your Comfort Zone – Vietnamese Wedding Reception

It was early Saturday morning when I got a call from an ex-coworker and very dear friend inviting me to attend a special event that evening.  He stressed that he really wanted me to be there, if I could. Well, I didn’t have anything planned for that evening.  So, I asked what was the dress code.  The only information he gave me was to “Dress Nice” and “It’s being held at a restaraunt’.   Not sure why I didn’t ask for more details at the time.  I just figured it was something regarding his fiancé.  I didn’t mind a little surprise.  Also, I thought maybe it was a cultural thing to not share the details since my friend was Vietnamese.  So, I planned my evening to drive the 45mins to the dinner party – so I thought.

As I entered the restaurant where the reception was being held, I was greeted by the brother of my friend.  I knew it was his brother because he looked and spoke like my friend whose name is Binh.  I realized now that I was attending either a wedding or wedding reception.  I definitely didn’t feel as though I was properly dressed for this event.  But I don’t believe anyone noticed.  It was all about the Bride and Groom this evening.  As I was escorted by his brother to a table where I could write a message in a book to the bride and groom, I realized how beautifully the venue was decorated with bright colors. Afterwards, I received a little stuff bear holding a heart that read ‘I Love You’ and was then escorted to my assigned table.

As I spoke with the guest at my assigned table, which included an ex-coworker, I found out that the wedding was held earlier that day and attended by only immediate family.  I was informed that Binh’s sister did not attend the ceremonies because of the recent death of their Mother.  Traditionally, there is a certain period of time one has to wait to attend any type of celebration or event. The mourning period can last up to 3 years for spouses, children and in-laws. The period varies depending on whether the deceased individual was the wife or husband.

Before the masters of ceremony started the introductions of the family members and wedding party, the bride and groom made themselves available to take photos with the guests.  I liked the opportunity to get a photo with the newlyweds.  The bride was in her custom made wedding dress called the Ao Dai. She and the dress were simply beautiful – red and gold. The red hat she wore reminded me of hats women would wear in my home church when I was young.  It had a very wide brim and an opening at the top. The groom was wearing a black tuxedo. They looked so very happy.  I felt overwhelmed with JOY for my dear friend and she couldn’t hope for a better man.

During some research, I found out that horoscopes play an important part in setting the date and time of the wedding celebration.  It is usually one of the elders who decides the date/time of the ceremonies.  Since I could not attend the official wedding ceremony, I researched Vietnamese Weddings.  I found it interesting that the Rose Silk Thread of God is believed to be the thread that brought the two together.

Time for Tied Choi (the reception for the couple’s family and friends). This is the final state that most are invited to.  After the introduction of the bride and groom, everyone was invited to entertain the bride and groom. Many of us, including myself, picked a song from the Karaoke DJ to perform. Yes, I couldn’t miss this opportunity to sing at a Vietnamese wedding reception.  I was asked by the DJ if I was going to sing a song in Vietnamese. Of course, I laughed and replied “Next time”.  I look for opportunities to share my gift and most of all ‘Live a Creative Life”.  I performed the Whitney Houston version of “I Believe in You and Me”.  The other guests performed Vietnamese songs.  There were some very talented guests.

After all the 6 appetizers, soup, 6 different entrees and dessert (not including the wedding cake) were all brought out throughout the dining experience, the bride and groom started to walk around from table to table to thank guests for their blessings and collect the envelopes with money.  If you wanted the couple to kiss upon arriving at your table, everyone at the table would make a drumming sound on the table.  My dear friend would only kiss on the cheek. I hope he does a little more when he’s not in public. 

I had to leave early and missed the fruit, desert trays, dancing and cutting of the cake.  However, I must say this was the most extravagant wedding reception I’ve attended in my life time.  The entrees were out of this world.  I had lamb, chicken, 3 different shrimp dishes, other items I couldn’t name.  Check out the Wedding Reception slideshow.  I could only eat small portions of everything that was brought out.  Beer was the chosen alcohol for the evening.   The most memorable moment was eating for the first time –  “Jellyfish”.   It was pretty good.  I couldn’t eat a bowl of jellyfish.  I’ll end my creative adventure on that note.  I wish these newlyweds  “trăm năm hạnh phúc” which means: “Happiness for 100 years”.

Share your 1st time experiences with other cultures.

Poor Jellyfish