5 star wedding
My life in Vietnam has certainly been void of cultural experiences lately. I suppose this is why I so often look back at my posts from Japan. I had oodles more free time to travel, explore, hike and trek and basically, soak up Japan. I spend six days a week and far too many evening hours on work stuff that I have found it pretty difficult to “get with the program” here in Hanoi and really sink my teeth into Vietnamese culture. So I was incredibly happy this week when I received an invitation to our Financial Controller’s daughter’s wedding.
April 10th was considered a lucky day in the Chinese Lunar calendar. Our company “Madame” (I’m not really sure her job title, but she’s essential for all the community and government relations), had also chosen April 10th as the moving date for our Emeraude office. I’m sure the wedding was scheduled on the day for the luck factor, as well.
After the circus of idiot movers (see blog entry below), I rushed home to get ready. The wedding was at the Sheraton, walking distance from my house. As soon as I walked up, the courtyard was full of dressed-up party goers taking lots of photos near the central fountain and under the wedding arch, decorated with white roses. At some signal, all of the 500+ guests made their way to the dining room, deposited the money envelopes in the large heart boxes, and sat freely on either the groom’s side or bride’s side of the room. The ballroom decor was a rather “normal” set-up with the cake on one side of the stage and a champagne glass pyramid on the other, waiting for the champagne to be poured by the couple. The glowing ice-sculpture in the middle was a nice touch. Tables were decorated with tall center-pieces and lots of white roses. This sat, of course, on a large glass lazy-susan so that the traditional vietnamese food could served in the traditional manner.
As I’ve seen before in Japan, there was a host for the reception. He hushed the crowd and started the “show”. The parents came down the rose petal-sprinkled, red carpet and took their places on the stage. The audience clapped after introductions. Then the dry ice machine was turned on and with dramatic music, the couple walked through the foggy air and made their way to the stage as well. The fathers gave a speech. Then the cake was ceremoniously cut (it was never served). Then the couple poured champagne over the glasses, the top four of which had pieces of dry ice so that the whole charade looked like a living sculpture. The couple returned to stand in-between their parents, but with the couple having switched places so that they were standing next to their partner’s parents, symbolizing the unity of the family. The champagne was served to the family and the host gave the toast and everyone raised their glasses.
The united family then made their way through the tables to individually toast the guests. The classical quartet took their places on stage and began playing a very reined set of music. The food was served, people ate, ate some more, drank some more and then the tea was served. An hour and a half after we sat down, everyone was getting up and heading out the door. There was no dancing, no throwing of the bouquet, no garter toss and no possibility of a cheezy DJ showing off as emcee and playing the chicken dance. I was home by 8:30pm.
My understanding is that this was a very high-end wedding. Most are held in large halls, and there is plenty of beer, food and light-weight Vietnamese falling drunk off their chairs. So while I am glad I was able to enjoy a really nice Vietnamese wedding reception, I hope I have the chance to see a more modest celebration!!!