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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony

OK, I know you've all been waiting and waiting...

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 1

Phew! Took me a while to sort through the photos. And I had to save the people photos over to another folder. And of course, you know my laptop and Wi-Fi have been having issues lately. And I could have included some pithy tidbits on Vietnamese and Chinese wedding traditions except that well, there's no consistency!

Basically, the groom's side comes over to the bride's side bearing a roast pig and various gifts. Pays respects to bride's ancestors. Bride's family is introduced. A tea ceremony is held there for the bride's family. Groom's family eats. When they leave, the bride's side, if they're nice, will share the bridal gifts and return half the gifts. (If they're not so nice, they'll only give you the head, legs, and tail (none of the meaty goodness in the middle) of the roast pig instead of splitting it in half. But then my mom says country folk say returning head, legs, and tail means you're returning a whole pig. OK, whatever, but no one eats the head or legs of a roast pig. We're not country folk anymore, so don't be greedy OK?)

Anyway, then the bride's side comes to the groom's home. Groom's mom gives gifts of jewelry to welcome the bride. Pays respects to ancestors. Gets introduced to the groom's family. Tea ceremony for the groom's family. Bride's family eats. Got that?

Except, and depending on which region you're from in China or Vietnam, the family needs to come out to welcome the visitors, or they stay inside and visitors need to ask permission to enter. At my parents' wedding many decades ago, my Vietnamese mom said her side was waiting for someone from my father's side to come out to greet the bridal party so they could enter. Except my dad's Hainanese-Chinese family was inside waiting for them to come in. There was a stalemate for about 15 minutes.

It was the opposite at my friend's wedding, her Vietnamese side refused to come out to welcome the groom's Trieu Chau/Teo Chew/Chiu Chow-Chinese side. Her mom and grandfather absolutely refused to go outside because they said it wasn't proper for Vietnamese people to go out to greet their visitors. So I had to tell the other guests someone needed to go outside or else the groom's side would never enter because Chinese people aren't going to enter without being invited. Sigh. Anyway, so bottomline, just make sure you clearly discuss what happens with the other side before the ceremony takes place.

In this case, the bride's side was Episcopalian so the bride's side of the traditional tea ceremony was scrapped. Just an abbreviated visit from the groom's side bearing a few gifts. And then the bride's side came to the groom's side where we did the full tea ceremony.

Anyway, so here are my girl cousins helping to make floral decorations for the pews for the church ceremony. Aren't my cousins lovely? Hehehe. :P

Anyway, we were trying to help out but the church floral lady was extremely particular so we took our helping hands elsewhere.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 2

The wedding colors ended up being gold and fuchsia and luckily this gift wrap was on sale at IKEA for 99 cents.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 3

The orchids are from the Patsy's Orchids stall at the Farmers' Market in Alhambra. These will become the floral centerpieces for the wedding banquet. I borrowed the idea from a friend who ended up going with another idea instead for her wedding. We assembled them at the church since they were being used as altar decorations before doing double-duty as restaurant banquet centerpieces.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 4

Double happiness plastered on the front door.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 5

A Vietnamese groom and bride.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 6

Here's the house decorated for the ceremony.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 7

Like how the gazebo has been transformed?

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 8

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 9

The altar with the Buddhist urn my parents brought back from Vietnam more than a decade ago. Yes, that's another double happiness on the heart.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 10

Anyway, I've told you the ceremony stuff and all you really care to see is the food right? The banh hoi (Vietnamese steamed rice vermicelli noodle sheets) are from Minh Phung in Santa Ana (supposedly the best in town according to my dad's cousin). But here's a little secret to avoid driving all the way to Orange County when you don't live there. They deliver to various supermarkets in Southern California. So I called them up, asked them what time they delivered to the San Gabriel Superstore - San Gabriel and told them I was going to buy 20 pounds. Sure enough, that Saturday at 11 a.m. the guy had literally finished stocking the shelves when I showed up. He even helped count and put it in my cart. And the banh hoi were still warm! They come plain so you'll have to add the Mo Hanh (Vietnamese Scallion Oil) yourself. My oldest uncle's wife did the prep for us. Isn't she so nice?

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 11

She also made the green and white agar gelatin and the banh khoai mi (Vietnamese grated cassava cake).

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 12

She also always makes these perfectly wrapped Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls).

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 13

More banh hoi with dried shrimp on top. The che troi nuoc (Vietnamese dough ball pudding) and banh cuon (Vietnamese rice noodle sheets stuffed with minced pork), I got catered from Banh Mi & Che Cali Restaurant in Alhambra. The video I shot in that post was them making up this order. There was a total of 20 pounds of banh cuon and 2 trays of Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Vietnamese Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky). I actually ordered banh uot (Vietnamese rice noodle sheets without meat), but I'm not gonna quibble if they add meat to my order and don't charge extra! Besides, it was the day of the wedding so too late to make another batch anyway.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 14

Here's Siu Mai (Chinese Meatball Dumplings) and roast suckling pig. We ordered it cut up since we didn't really do the groom's side bringing a whole pig to the bride's side thing.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 15

So on top of the roast pig, 200 shu mai, there were 200 har gow, 60 char siu bao, and 10 roast ducks ordered from Seaworld Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead. Umm, yeah, did I forget to mention we were feeding more than 100 people at the house?

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 16

When I asked the bride's father if his family was ready to leave (since they had to get to the church to set up and all), he said he thinks his family still wanted to eat! :) But eventually, the bride and groom left for the church.

Vietnamese Wedding Preparations and Ceremony 17

OK, next post, the reception at Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Monterey Park.


  1. Interesting post and it is very true that the Chinese will not enter a house if not invited :) ... even among Asians, we can miscommunicate because of different custom practice. :)

  2. Awww... That's really cute. I like the teddy bears.

  3. this was interesting! thanks for sharing.

  4. CN,
    Even among Chinese from different regions we disagree!

    Yeah, they're adorable aren't they?


  5. Around average how many people were there?
    xx Thx :)

  6. Amy,
    This was quite a while ago so I don't remember, but my family alone would have been 40+ people. I think the bride's side had a few dozen. So probably close to 75? We had a ton of leftovers, but always better to have too much, than not enough, food.


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