A Vietnamese wedding

Bling - Vietnam-style

I am not – nor will I ever be – a wedding photographer.

Photography for me, however, is partly about capturing my impressions of things I experience to share with others, and partly about telling the stories of others’ lives.

So when my brother-in-law’s wedding came around, there was no way I was going without my camera!

Just as with Chinese weddings, modern Vietnamese weddings tend to be a fusion of old and new – an East meets West kind of affair.


The day begins with the bride and groom preparing in their respective families’ homes. In the groom’s home, the man of the day and his posse get together and dress in the distinctive traditional Vietnamese wedding attire.


They then jump in their cars along with the groom’s family and some close friends and head for the bride’s home.

At the bride’s home, the groom’s and bride’s families discuss the terms of the marriage, and the groom’s family give gifts to the bride’s family. Finally the bride and groom are able to come together.

At this stage they are laiden with gold jewelry given for a prosperous new life by the bride’s family. In the image below, the groom helps the father of the bride secure one of the many solid gold necklaces bestowed upon the new bride.


Once gifts are given, ancestors prayed to and tea offered by the newlyweds to their elder family members on the bride’s side, the groom takes the bride back to his family’s home.

Below: The parents of the bride (left and centre) joke with the man who acted as a spokesperson in the initial discussion stage of the ceremony after their end of proceedings have come to an end.

And here the bride and groom prepare to head back to the groom’s family home:

At the groom’s home, the whole process is repeated with speeches, prayers to ancestors and more golden gifts given – this time by the groom’s side of the family.

Here the groom’s father places incense before ancestors’ photographs after praying to them for a prosperous marraige.

Some of the bracelets and rings given to the couple by family. The single bracelet on her right wrist is the one my wife and I gave, along with a ring for each the bride and groom.

The bride and groom then prepare for the third stage of the wedding: the reception.

The bride and her bridesmaids who help her get ready for the reception.

For the reception, the couple change into typical western-style wedding attire and head to a large restaurant outside which are some large baskets. These baskets are for guests to give monetary gifts which are placed in the envelopes that held their wedding invitations. I prefer the idea of cash gifts to other items as it helps the couple recover the cost of the wedding and the leftover amount is a practical way to begin their new lives together (along with the gold which can be sold in tight times).

A guest gives his cash donation to the newlyweds startup fund before entering the restaurant.

Flowers outside the restaurant where the reception was held.

The bride and groom then enter and are announced to the guests as man and wife. They offer toasts to the parents of both sides, drink together, and then cut the cake, just as in a western wedding (kinda).




Then it’s a matter of going table to table toasting guests with beer or sometimes something more potent, after which the groom is often quite intoxicated – a sign of a successful wedding according to some. I didn’t get any shots at that point as I was starving and figured I’d eat and let the guy who was getting paid take the pictures of that stage!

So there you have it. A Vietnamese wedding. I didn’t really get to take the kind of images I’d have liked to as I was involved in proceedings myself as a family member, but it was a nice time anyway.

I certainly wish Ty and Binh all the best for their future life together.