Saying “I Do” in Vietnamese

Last weekend, I went to a Vietnamese wedding.  It was held at a house in Qui Nhon, a four and a half hour bus journey from Kon Tum on the coast.  Travelling by bus in Vietnam is interesting: a little crowded and hot, but a good way to see the country.  At one point on our journey, there were 23 people in an 11 seater bus, so as you can imagine, it was a little cramped.

But it was easy to forget the journey when we were sitting on deck chairs on the beach, sipping beer and eating dried fish and squid.  There were many Vietnamese holiday-makers in the sea, and a view of beautiful mountains and colourful bobbing boats.  After our snack, we went for dinner in a roadside restaurant (more seafood), and then retired to our hotel for an early night.

The next morning, we were at the wedding before it started as my friend was to give advice to the groom’s family about the proper etiquette for the bride’s arrival.  The timing of the arrival is very important in a Vietnamese wedding ceremony as an auspicious time will prove lucky for the future of the couple.  Luckily it all went off perfectly, and the guests assembled around low tables in a room headed by two shrines, one to Christianity, and one to the ancestors of the bride and groom.  Prayers were said in Vietnamese, and I listened while admiring my orange shoes.

After the prayers, everyone took a seat around several tables set out outside.  I was joined by a group of women who were all beautifully dressed in the Ao Dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) but spoke no English.  There was much nodding and smiling and I repeated the four phrases I can say in Vietnamese many times (‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘it’s hot’ and ‘it’s delicious’).  Luckily, then a girl who spoke English came and sat next to me, and the rest of the wedding passed in a blur, with much eating and chatting and general merriment.  An older Vietnamese woman tried to find me a husband, and when I said I was taken, she started talking about bringing my sister out to Vietnam.

We then took the delightful bus journey back to Kon Tum.  Unlike Western weddings, Vietnamese weddings are short and too the point (much like the people!) and I didn’t have a chance to get bored or tired.  I went home very full and very jolly!

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