by Dong Hua
HO CHI MINH CITY, May 1 (Xinhua) -- The wedding of Ngoc Quang, a specialist at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, has recently been held in both the city and the countryside.
"One wedding took place over a week in my parents' house in my hometown in the countryside near the capital city of Hanoi, and another over one day at White Palace (the name of a luxury wedding service center in Ho Chi Minh City)," Quang told Xinhua.
According to Quang's parents, their wedding decades ago and their son's countryside wedding in early 2019 have many things in common, including the time, the venue and ways of organizing the ceremonies.
"Most of our villagers hold weddings in the cooler months from November to February leading up to Tet (Lunar New Year festival), so that newlyweds can enjoy cool weather and then celebrate Tet together. And the weddings are held at houses of brides or grooms' parents," Quang's mother said.
While city families often employ an event organizer, or use a wedding service to help them with their ceremony, most people in the countryside still do it themselves with the help of relatives and neighbors. A mountain of works lie ahead for the big day, including pitching up the marquee, writing wedding invitations, and slaughtering pigs and chickens to prepare for the wedding dinner.
Several evenings before the main wedding day, young villagers usually gather in the marquee to sing, dance or even gamble through the night, something rarely seen in the city.
"Because a wedding is like a festival for the whole village, some guests sing karaoke or play cards till early morning. However, local authorities have discouraged such activities because they either affect neighbors' sleep or violate laws," the mother said, noting that local police rarely arrest gamblers at weddings because they play cards at a small scale and mainly for fun.
"The only noticeable change in weddings today is the costume. In the past, brides wore ao dai (Vietnam's traditional long dress). Now, brides and young women guests often opt for western-style dresses," she said, noting that brides still wear ao dai in relevant ceremonies leading up to the main wedding day, but choose western-style dress to create a new image.
Quang said that like many other villagers, his family invited some 300 guests, mostly their relatives, friends and neighbors, to his wedding in the countryside. The guests sat at some 50 tables.
Instead of buying a gift for the bridge or the groom, most of guests to weddings in Vietnam give them cash. In rural areas, people usually give the money directly to the bride or the groom or their parents.
In urban areas there is often a heart-shaped box, jokingly referred to as the "charity-box," at the entrance to the wedding venue where guests can drop in their gift or cash in envelops.
A city wedding is usually held at a wedding service center or a star-rated hotel for a day, or just a morning or an afternoon. It usually costs 180-300 U.S. dollars per table.
"At a city wedding, few people know each other. It's much more entertaining to take part in a countryside wedding where you can talk, share jokes and meet old acquaintances," said Ngoc Mai, who works for an export company in Hanoi.
However, she acknowledged that having shorter weddings allow city dwellers to spend more time in managing their work, and capturing their special moment forever.
Couples in cities prefer having a perfect set of wedding photos taken at studios or landscapes before the main wedding day, and then having a honeymoon in Vietnam or abroad.
According to local culture experts, as a Vietnamese proverb goes "Plenty breeds pride," when people become wealthier, they tend to make their wedding ceremonies more impressive.
Rural ideas seeped into the cities as thousands of people from the countryside joined the urban population, said well-known scholar of culture Vuong Tri Nhan, adding that instead of a simple ceremony among groups of people based around their home neighborhood, now there are huge events with the attendance of the relatives, acquaintances and work colleagues.
On the contrary, a number of low-wage workers opt for a simple wedding party with sweets, cakes and tea, even a mass wedding ceremony. The Ho Chi Minh City Center for Assisting Young Workers started holding mass wedding ceremonies in 2007 to help couples and promote tradition.
On Sept. 2 last year, which was Vietnam's national day, a mass wedding ceremony was held in Ho Chi Minh City for 100 couples, who were dressed in traditional marriage attires.