Today we bring you a little bit of culture and colour with a traditional Vietnamese wedding! When Trung and Thu found us during their engagement, we were delighted at the thought of being the ones to document this special day for them. Since Jeff’s family is Vietnamese as well, we share a special connection! Of course we loved hanging out with Trung and Thu during their awesome engagement session a few months ago, after which we were even more excited for their big day. In a traditional Vietnamese wedding, the festivities begin with a procession to the bride’s home. Thu’s family had beautifully decorated their home for the occasion with lots of colourful, traditional and symbolic touches. The house was bustling despite the very early start to the day! Everyone was awake and excited. I loved capturing some of the colourful details that would be a part of the ceremony to come.
Thu was looking absolutely beautiful in her Áo Dài, the traditional Vietnamese dress.
But of course she also had several other dresses for later!
Trung was looking handsome as well! In the lead-up to the wedding, he had told us that all the last minute planning was like being a part of grandfinal week, preparing for the big game on Saturday. Haha! His groomsmen and friends watched with smiles as he got ready.
Trung and Thu were very excited about two special cars they had hired for the day. Is this one cool looking or what?
Then it was time to get the vehicles packed up to make the procession over to Thu’s house for the ceremony. The boys carried eight special trays containing gifts for the brides family. The red cloth coverings, as well as the specific number of trays, are believed to bring the new couple good luck.
Meanwhile, at Thu’s house, the crowds were gathering in anticipation of the groom’s arrival. Trung and Thu had even managed to hire Lion Dancers and some pyrotechnics to annouce the start of the ceremony!
As the groom’s processional rounded the corner, the musicians began vigourously beating their drums and clanging symbols. The long strands of firecrackers were lit and went off with a wild crackling as the strands thrashed about in the air. The din echoed around the block, drawing out heaps of curious neighbors onto their patios to glimpse the festivities! The lion dancers went at it full throttle, jumping, lurching and bobbing around with tons of energy.
In addition to the eight trays, the guests came bearing other gifts, including the traditional gift of a giant roast pig.
The little bit of rain coming down sure wasn’t going to stop this parade!
Trung looked so excited!
As the two families greeted each other, they presented the bride’s family with some traditional lacquer boxes and gifts for the bride.
The women now carried the eight trays inside, containing gifts of fruit, cakes, and other sweets.
Once inside, the tea ceremony began with the burning of incense. The bride and groom and family pray to their ancestors and ask for their blessing.
Gifts of jewellery for the bride are always essential! The mothers lovingly presented Thu with her beautiful new pieces from Tiffany’s.
After exchanging rings, the bride and groom served tea to each of their family members. Traditionally, at this point in the tea ceremony each family member has the opportunity to give a bit of advice about marriage and family to the couple, or to simply express their well wishes. The bride and groom are presented with an envelope containing money, often in a lucky amount.
After the tea had been served, the women handed the lucky trays back to the men… so that the processional could begin again and proceed to the groom’s house for the second half of the ceremony!
Trung and Thu were seen as officially married now, but the fun wasn’t over yet. Traditionally, after the tea ceremony at the bride’s house, the family members are invited to a reception at the groom’s house. Trung and Thu had a fancy reception planned at a local restaurant later that evening, but all the family were invited to the groom’s house for lunch and a second tea ceremony. Once everyone had arrived, they formed a line down the block and proceeded inside, with parents first and other family members following in order of seniority.
Thu was looking so beautiful and happy! I loved the way her red roses matched her Áo Dài perfectly.
Inside, the groom’s house was as beautifully decorated as the bride’s.
I couldn’t get over how cool these food sculptures were. Can you tell they are a dragon and a phoenix? The dragon and phoenix are a yin and yang metaphor, representing male and female. These two mythic creatures are often seen as a part of Vietnamese and Chinese weddings, symbolic of blissful relations between husband and wife. These amazing creations were made out of pineapples, chili peppers, snake beans, cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves, and held together by tiny pins. They were truly works of art (and definitely too pretty to eat!). I was also quite partial to this succulent-looking green tree, made out of sweet sticky cakes.
The groom’s parents lit more incense as they honoured the ancestors from Trung’s side of the family.
Trung and Thu exchanged tea cups and envelopes with a few more family members.
With their marriage official, it was just about time to begin the celebrations! Stay tuned for part 2, where you’ll see what we got up to with the bridal party at Bicentennial Park, and what a blast everyone had at their fun-filled reception at Golden Harvest Restaurant. Coming soon!
Friends and family of Trung and Thu, leave a comment below for the happy couple or let us know what you think of the photos! Leave your email address to be notified when the full gallery of images is online.