Saturday, November 7, 2015

Groom's Family Wedding Celebration! Moving tradition and modern fun!

8:30 AM (Vietnamese wedding proceedings start early!) The family of the bride (us included) assembled in the lobby of the hotel to wait for the groom and his family to arrive to "invite" us all to go to the home of the groom for the second traditional wedding ceremony in a modern version of a procession (of vans and cars).  In the past in rural areas like a village we would have walked through the fields and village streets escorted by the grooms family in a more traditional procession.
 In the picture to the left you see the nervous crowd (both families including parents, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc.) waiting in the hotel lobby with grand parents and parents assembled and waiting for the bride to join us and get underway.  We all knew she would be down, but when?  The lady in the center of the sofa is one of the paternal grandmothers who had chauffeured us on the train.  All of Thinh's grandparents are living, but one of the grandfathers was too old and ill to make the trip from his village hometown.

Ms Vinh arrives so we can move to the groom's home!

At last we saw the professional video cameras rolling so we knew the moment we had waited for had arrived and sure enough here came Ms Vinh with her Mother and a close friend.

We climbed into the three vans lead by a car for the bride and her mother and father for our procession and after a few minutes we arrived at the beautifully decorated home (While we did some sightseeing the previous day, Thinh's family was transforming the family home into a beautiful wedding setting of flowers, drapes, etc.) of Mr Tinh's family.  Parents Mr. Lam Trong Hung and Ms Do Thi Kiem met us when we proceeded up to the walk passing through the garden!  The garden had been started and maintained by one of the groom's grandfathers -- now Thinh's Father cares for the gorgeous garden.  A great combination of old and new elements.
 After entering the home the Ceremony was held -- the bride was presented to the groom, the family members placed gold rings on the fingers of the couple and presented gifts from the family members in front of the ancestral shrine.  When the grandmothers gave the couple their gifts of rings with special messages, every eye in the place was glistening with handkerchiefs in hand.  When the formal moment finished we all went out on the front patio area and had a many course lunch with soda, water, beer and laughs and toasts to the long health and good life of the newly weds.  And yet again a lot of delicious local food.

Later in the afternoon (after we all took a nap -- except the groom's parents) we all caravaned together to a nicely decorated hotel where there was a large wedding reception just after 5pm, after people had gotten off from work and could come and enjoy wonderful company, delicious food and just party with musical entertainment and toasts.  Hopefully one, maybe two,  short videos here will illustrate the good times of the evening.  It seems that at least a couple of hundred family and friends were present from this no too large of city!  One group of relatives who had traveled by van from 30 km away, was delayed by bad rain and a flat tire, but they made it and greeted with lots of attention and love.  Following tradition the families of the newly weds toured the large room sharing toasts with the assemblage.  At one point your "ours truly" made our own min-toast tour and saluted many tables.  And then the wonderful day was over and we returned to our hotel for a good nights sleep before getting the train back to HCMC at noon the following day.

Ms. Vinh and Mr. Thinh did not return to HCMC at the same time.  Instead they stayed for several days in the groom's family house where according to tradition, Vinh was busy helping to cook and clean (there certainly were major cleaning projects after all the decorations and partying!).  When she and Thinh told us about this tradition, they made it clear that today the groom's Mother always tells the new "daughter" to relax and get-to-know the family better.  But both Vinh and Thinh wanted to honor the sense of the tradition and were both planning to share some of the household chores while enjoying the family time and the more relaxed atmosphere of a smaller town.

For us it was GREAT to get to meet the groom's parents -- one of whom works for the Provincial "treasury" agency while the other is now retired (women retire at age 55 here with social insurance!) from a finance job with the city government.  Turns out that many of the wedding party guests were province, city and union leaders and their families.
Now we're looking forward to the wedding celebration here in HCMC on Nov. 14 when again we get to celebrate with parents, friends and families!

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