Have you ever wondered what an engagement ceremony is like in Vietnam?a
Lễ Ăn Hỏi: Vietnamese Engagement Ceremony
The meaning of “Le An Hoi”
Vietnamese engagement ceremony, “Lễ Ăn Hỏi”, is considered very important, somehow even more than the wedding ceremony, because it is the day the groom’s family visits the bride’s house, brings gifts, and asks for her parent’s wedding approval. When the future wife’s family accepts the husband’s presents, it means that the relationship between the two families officially starts. The parents will announce to their relatives, neighbors, and friends that their children are getting married.
This is also the occasion for the future husband to show his gratitude and respect to his soon-to-be wife’s family for giving birth and raising his bride.
When is the engagement ceremony?
The engagement ceremony date is carefully chosen by both families. It must be an auspicious day in the lunar calendar, which could be a day, a month, or even half a year before the wedding. Some even combine and hold it on the same day as the wedding ceremony to save time & money for both families.
How is the engagement ceremony in Vietnam?
Before the engagement day, each family chooses a representative who is not only a member of the family but also has a happy life and a high-ranking position in the family. The representatives will act as the MC for the ceremony and control the event’s flow.
Before visiting the bride’s house, the groom’s family needs to prepare several gifts which are placed on trays (tráp). The number of the gift trays must be an odd number of 3, 5, 7, or 9 as per the discussion between both families and depending on the financial condition of the fiancé family. The gifts are covered by red paper or cloth. In Vietnamese beliefs, the odd number and the red color will bring luck to the young couple. The gifts may consist of betel leaves, areca nut fruits (trầu, cau), wine, tea, mung bean cake (‘bánh phu thê’ in Vietnamese, literally translated as husband-wife cake), etc.
The boys will represent the fiancé to carry the presents, and the girls will be the bride’s representatives to receive them. They must be young and single and the number of people will depend on the number of gift trays that the groom prepares.
After receiving the gifts and permission from the bride’s family, the future husband will take his future wife to the altar to ask for the approval of fiancée ancestors. When this ritual finishes, the fiancé gives the fiancée the engagement ring.
Then, the two representatives will introduce both family members who participated in the ceremony. The groom and the bride will go around to introduce themselves to their future family-in-law and invite them to drink tea or eat some betel and areca nuts.
Afterward, both families enjoy the party prepared by the fiancée family. Parts of the gifts are also expected to be returned to the fiancé’s family for luck before his family leaves.
A few days after the engagement ceremony, the parents and the engaged couple will bring the wedding invitations to their family, friends, and neighbors and invite them to participate in the wedding party.