On Saturday and Sunday we spent the day preparing for Uncle Todd’s wedding. My brother married his longtime love Tina. The kids were so excited and so was I. They learned a lot about Vietnamese culture and ate food that they had never had before. The wedding ceremony kicked off at the local Vietnamese Catholic Church. The boys wore lime green vests, and Violette, wore a little wedding flower girl gown. When the day of the wedding came, the kids learned a lot.They learned how to walk down the aisle slowly. They learned how to stay quiet in the ceremony. They learned that stepping on Aunt Tina’s veil was a bad thing. They also learned about Poison Sumac, which they contracted during a woody wedding picture of the bridal party. (We just saw it yesterday, it can take up to 48 hours to show up.)
So off to the reception.
Here is what I learned:
1. Vietnamese gowns are three fold, and the dress is called an Áo dài .
2.Guests are expected to bring gifts, and it is traditionally in the form of money in an envelope. Immediate family, usually gives more money to the bride and groom. At one point during the reception, the bride and groom will go from table-to-table to thank guests for their blessings and sometimes collect the envelopes. Most couples however leave a box at the sign-in table for guests to drop in their envelopes and cards, although this is frowned upon by older traditional conservatives. Occasionally, the family and guests’ monetary gifts will cover more than the cost of the wedding and reception.
3.The actual wedding day may only include a Buddhist/Church ceremony, and large reception.
4.It’s normal for Vietnamese to attend the reception an hour or so later than the arranged time which was 6pm. (THE KIDS WERE STARVING) if you arrive at the time specified on the invitation, you are obviously hungry and in need of a meal.
5.Gifts are traditionally not given to the newly married couple. Rather, one should use the invitation envelope, or envelopes conveniently placed on the tables, to give cash donations. The money collected will normally be used to offset the cost of the reception and the catering. No doubt this goes some way to helping defray the cost of all those additional freeloaders.
6.A larger than life picture of the happy couple will be placed outside the entrance to the reception venue. The proud subject’s of the picture will be stationed nearby to dutifully greet every guest individually.
7.This will happen as often as her family can afford. Tina’s gowns changed three times!