The Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony is an indispensable part of traditional weddings in Vietnamese culture. It holds significant meaning, especially in a family-oriented society like Vietnam. In this article, you will get to see what the occasion involves and grab some tips for the next time you attend a Vietnamese tea ceremony.
1. What is the Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony?
The Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony is one of the many long-standing Vietnamese wedding traditions. Named “Lễ ăn hỏi” in Vietnamese, this ceremony involves the groom asking the bride’s family for their blessings for the marriage. This is the first among a series of events that leads to the traditional Vietnamese wedding, specifically taking place from one week to one month before the official Vietnamese wedding ceremony. The traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony is also an occasion to gather the members of both families and announce the marriage.
2. Importance of the Vietnamese tea ceremony
This ceremony is of utmost importance for many families. First, due to the familial values deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture, many consider this to be an occasion for both the bride and groom to pay respects to their parents. Furthermore, while it is strictly ceremonial, the event also sees the groom’s family bringing various gifts over, signifying their gratitude and forging a harmonious connection between both families.
The ceremony is also a family affair, with the guest list consisting of mostly family members alongside a few close friends. Since it is the first event in the wedding traditions, it doubles as both an announcement and a celebration of the marriage. Most important of all, the ceremony is all about sending blessings to the happy couple and wishing them a long-lasting marriage.
3. Basic steps of a traditional Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony
While the ceremony itself generally lasts for only 30 - 60 minutes, there is a lot of work that goes into it. Here are the Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony steps:
- The ceremony begins with the groom’s family going to the bride’s home with gifts. Upon arrival, the groom’s family will enter the house in order of seniority, starting with the elders, the groom himself, and finally the gift carriers.
- As the groom’s family enters, the same order applies for the bride’s as they receive the gifts from the corresponding member of the other family. However, the bride herself should not be present yet.
- Then, a representative from the groom’s family will announce the reason for the ceremony.
- After the initial greetings, the dowry will be unwrapped by the bride’s family. Once they are approved, one person shall lead the bride to meet the groom.
- The bride and groom will then light incense while some of the gifts are placed on the ancestor altars. Following that, the couple shall bow to their parents, offer them tea, and bow to each other.
- Before the end of the ceremony, the bride’s family will also present their gifts to the couple and give some of the dowry back to the groom’s family.
- Lastly, there will be a cozy meal for all the family members.
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4. Extra things to know about the Vietnamese tea ceremony
Vietnamese wedding customs date back thousands of years. While there have been many changes, Vietnamese people tend to maintain the most important things in these ceremonies. Here are some things to note when attending a Vietnamese wedding ceremony.
4.1. What to prepare for a Vietnamese tea ceremony?
An occasion with immense significance like this should be organized thoroughly, and preparations should begin months before the event.
It is highly important to find an appropriate date for the tea ceremony. The parents of the couple will consult feng shui experts and discuss on which date is the best. Usually, they will take into account the couple’s ages, their Vietnamese zodiac signs, and other spiritual aspects. For example, people often avoid the 7th month of the lunar calendar due to its relation to malevolent forces.
Then, the representatives of each family will need to be appointed. These are usually the elders in the families and they will be making speeches during the event. Aside from that, preparing the gifts, decorating the house, and finalizing the guest list should also be on the agenda for organizing a Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony.
4.2. Traditional Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony gifts
The gifts are extremely important for the ceremony, being wrapped and decorated with care days before the event. There can be some variations but the most common items are:
- Betel and areca leaves
- Green tea
- Roasted pork
- Traditional cakes
These items all have significant meanings in Vietnamese wedding traditions, which is why they need to be of the best quality possible for the ceremony.
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4.3. Vietnamese tea ceremony decorations
The bride’s family will adorn their house with beautiful decorations for the Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony. Usually, people will stick to the Vietnamese wedding traditions and go for the classic theme, with red items like flowers, tablecloth, etc. However, young couples have been embracing other gorgeous color themes like white, pastel pink, or pastel blue. Either way, some of the most important things to decorate are the ancestor altars, the table for the gifts, the backdrop, and the tables for the meal.
4.4. What to wear to a Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony?
Last but not least, dress code is extremely important. Normally, people will opt for the traditional Vietnamese dress due to the formality of the occasion. The bride and groom will need to match their outfits, which are often prepared months in advance. Also, the gift carriers also need to wear uniformed outfits.
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The Vietnamese wedding tea ceremony is an interesting cultural aspect of Vietnam. As one of the most important occasions in a marriage, it displays some of Vietnam’s most significant values including piety and respect. Most importantly, the ceremony celebrates love in a cozy way by strengthening the connection between the two families.