A wedding is one of the most important and happiest events in every culture and country. It represents the connection between two families, but more importantly – this is the event that celebrates the love of two people. However, attending a wedding of a different culture can be confusing if you don’t know what to expect. Traditions, food, gifts – everything can be different. This is why we prepared a guide for those planning to attend a wedding of a couple from Vietnam. Here’s everything to know about traditional Vietnamese wedding gifts – what to bring to the happy couple?
About the ceremony of giving gifts between the families
The act of giving gifts at a Vietnamese wedding is quite important. The central part of it is when the groom’s family gives gifts to the bride’s family. These family gifts are part of the procession to receive the bride. The procession is actually the engagement. This is where they bring traditional Vietnamese wedding gifts packed in red boxes – the red color symbolizes wealth and prosperity. These boxes often include items such as cakes, wine, fruits, and even a roasted pig. Another symbol of prosperity, apart from the red colors, is the odd number of these gifts.
However, you should know that the groom is not the only one who brings them. There are gift bearers who come first and introduce the arrival of the groom’s family. There are usually five, seven, or even nine men from the family who bring these lovely red presents. After that, the groom can come and ask the bride’s parents if he can marry her. This is also the time when the bride receives an engagement ring as the symbol of accepting ‘the offer.’
Nowadays, this is just a ceremony, but it beautifully represents the fact both families agree for the happy couple to get married. Some couples skip this step of celebrating the engagement, but this was an essential part of the wedding ceremony in the past.
Gifts for the bride on her wedding day
Some of the essential wedding gifts in Vietnam are the ones bride receives on their wedding day. The groom’s mother and the rest of the immediate family usually prepare the jewelry for the bride. This happens on the wedding day – the gifts are brought in the morning, but the groom’s mother gives them to the bride at the ceremony. When the couple is ready to get married at the altar, the bride’s mother-in-law will bring the gifts. She brings boxes filled with fine jewelry – rings, bracelets, necklaces, etc. This is the act of accepting the bride to the family, promising a good life and prosperity. Again, we have the color red in the ceremony – brides often wear a traditional red wedding dress.
Guests and the gifts
If you’re a guest at a Vietnamese wedding, you probably wonder what the best gift to bring is. There’s no registry on these weddings, but the couple will usually come to each guest to welcome them to the ceremony. This is also a good time to congratulate the happy couple and give them your gift. Sometimes, there will be a table with a red box where people will put the gift cards/envelopes.
You can bring several things as a present to the bride and groom. In general, money is appreciated and also the simplest solution. It can help them fund the reception and other costs of this beautiful ceremony. You can make this part of the tradition by putting the money in a traditional red envelope.
If you want to give them a present instead of money, it’s good to consult the couple before you purchase. Vietnamese people love getting a practical gift that they can use after the wedding. So, if you’re close with the couple, it’s wise to ask them if there’s something they need and would like to receive as a present.
However, there’s a challenge with giving presents instead of money. You need to ensure they arrive in one piece, especially if you’re bringing fragile items. This is even more of a challenge if you plan to ship some items, as you’ll have to find the right method of transportation and then pack fragile items with care. Thus, do you best to pack and protect them during transport, so the happy couple receives a present that’s not scratched or broken.
Other customs in a Vietnamese wedding
Apart from knowing everything about traditional wedding gifts in Vietnam, you should also know more about other customs and ways to respect the family.
Firstly, you should pick what to wear if you’re invited to a Vietnamese wedding. There are several options, but it’s important not to upstage the bride – which usually means to avoid wearing red or white. You need to dress up and look good for sure, but without ‘stealing’ the attention the bride should get.
It’s essential to respect the information you see on the wedding invitation. Don’t bring an extra guest unless there’s a ‘plus one’ noted. Also, be sure to respect the timeline of the ceremony and don’t be late. Next, it can be disrespectful to come to a wedding if someone close to your family recently died. This is considered unlucky in Vietnamese culture.
Finally, it’s important to have fun – but not overdo it. Getting drunk or doing anything to annoy other guests is disrespectful to the hosts, so try to avoid it. This is the day to celebrate the love of two people and the happiness of their families – the happiest day of their lives. Thus, bring some of the best traditional Vietnamese wedding gifts and be on your best behavior.