The Vietnamese engagement ceremony is probably one of Vietnam most beautiful tradition and I think it is one of the neatest ways to ask for a lady’s hand in marriage. What makes this ceremony so unique is the underlying theme that the fiancé’s whole extended family is asking for the fiancée’s hand rather than just him making the proposal. It is also considered to be the union of two families rather than of just two people. Now, of course all of this talk of marriage would have to be discussed beforehand and the ceremony is more of a formal announcement of the engagement since you cannot go through all of this planning (as you will see) and have her say no. So that is the basis of the Vietnamese engagement ceremony, now I will walk you guys through the various steps of the day so people can have a better understanding of this very unique tradition.
Before I go on, I will say that this particular Đám Hỏi is very special for me since I have known Phương from like the second week of our Freshman year of college at UCONN. It is absolutely thrilling and surreal to be apart of such wonderful memories of one of your very close friend and boy was I glad that I can be her photographer for that the day. I was essentially capturing my own memories.
Phương met her fiancé in Texas where she is currently working and while her fiancé's family is from Houston, they still made the long trip to her hometown of Bristol, CT where her parents still reside to formally ask for her hand. This makes me realizes how importance and symbolic the Vietnamese engagement ceremony is. Sure, it is just a formality at this point but it certainly take a lot of love and effort to pull it off.
So let start at the hair salon. I love taking photos at hair salon, I do not know why but the the photos you get at the hair salon when the ladies are getting their hair and make up done, you simply cannot really get it anywhere else. It is just the perfect combination of glamour and fun and the overall atmosphere is totally relaxing.
The funny thing was when we showed up the hair salon was everyone was confused as to why Phương is getting her hair and make up done just to get engaged? So this is why I am writing this piece in a bit of detail so other can learn of this wonderful tradition.
Below are some of the "gifts" and "offering" for the ancestor on the family's mantel.
Representatives from the fiance's family came to state their intention before the rest of the family can enter.
Representatives from the the fiance's family asking for permission to bring the rest of the family into the house and cheering to a joyous union.
"Bridesmaids" waiting to receive gifts from the fiancé's family.
Grandma's leading the way into the house while the rest of family brought gifts wrapped in red. Probably one of the most memorable moment.
The most anticipated and probably the most comical gift is the roasted pig
Welcome and greeting from both families as well as stating their intention for the special occasion.
Beside getting her engagement ring, Phương also get a pair of earrings and a necklace as gifts from her in law in accordance to Vietnamese tradition. What a great way to make lady feel special on her engagement day, I was so happy to see her get so many gifts lol!!
The serving of wine to your to your in-laws as a sign of respect.
After the cozy ceremony, we gather around for quick lunch with all the guests in the back yard and gather round for some quick portraits with close family members.
To signify the official end to the ceremony, the fiancée's family return the boxes to the fiancé's family. Noticed how everything is much messier now? lol
In short, that is the Vietnamese Đám Hỏi or Engagement Ceremony. So far, it seem pretty unique to our culture and I definitely think it is a very beautiful tradition as you cannot really make a girl feel any more special than with such a meaningful celebration with close friends and family.
We also photographed Phương and Phong engagement session the next day with a "normal" modern theme, and the results were interestingly different.....both the traditional and modern looks are stunningly gorgeous but yet they are so different! You can see the Phương and Phong's engagement portraits in the link below:
UPDATE: So my friend Phương got married this pas May and I am very proud to have all of her wedding journey documented on my blog!!! You can see her beautiful traditional Vietnamese wedding here: