Vinh's family is from Hue. Hue is often called the heart and soul of Vietnam as it is the location where most of the emperors lived (in amazing splendor). Hue seems to take special pride in maintaining ancient traditions (many are Vietnamese Buddhist) and in preserving the ancient history, pagodas, temples, etc. of Vietnam. Hue is where the Forbidden City/Imperial Palaces are located. Much of this history was destroyed in the American War with fierce block-by-block fighting and USA bombing, but is slowly being re-built. The Perfume River, the large traditional town market and other historical sites make Hue a real favorite not just for foreign tourists, but equally for Vietnamese on vacation.
We all arrived a couple of days early so we got to watch as Vinh's home was decorated, extended family arrived and special food was prepared. The day before the wedding we eat a special meal with Vinh's family and Thinh (the spouse!) consisting of traditional foods that were also offered at the family ancestral shrine located on the top floor of the house (most Vietnamese houses strive to have several floors -- first floor for family gatherings and eating as well as oldest generation bedrooms, second floor with smaller living space and "parent's" bedroom, top floor for youngest generation and family ancestral shrine). Bit-by-bit house was decorated in red with lots of beautiful floral birds, drapes, slogans. The families had a special joint lunch to finalize all the wedding plans -- more great food and fun. The families had already met as part of the traditional engagement events -- even extended family, so the tone was way more fun than planning.
Finally we all headed to a large banquet hall where all the family, friends, co-workers (Vinh's father works at a bank in Hue, Vinh's mother is a renowned doctor of herbal and traditional medicine who also teaches) in Hue and beyond gathered for entertainment (professional and family -- seems like a lot of the men in this family SING WELL), food, drinking and more FUN. It was one hell-of-a-party.
By 2:30pm we headed back to our hotel to collapse.
Next we travel by train to Thinh's home town to celebrate with his family as host. So stay tuned!