Vietnamese Wedding Tea Ceremonies Traditions
As an award-winning wedding photographer, I have photographed lots of Vietnamese Tea ceremonies. The purpose of the ceremony is for the groom to ask the bride’s family for her hand in marriage and celebrate the union of the two families whilst honouring the parents, family and ancestors. This makes it one of the most emotional and compelling aspects of a Vietnamese wedding.
Traditionally, this ceremony would happen weeks before the wedding day but lots of modern Vietnamese couples host a Vietnamese tea ceremony on the morning of their wedding.
On this page, I will explain how this traditional ritual plays out and give you some valuable advice if you’re having a Vietnamese tea ceremony on your wedding day.
Planning a Vietnamese Tea Ceremony
Proceedings start with a procession from the groom’s entourage. They bring flowers and ‘mam qua’ which are gifts served on trays. They are invited in by the brides’ parents’ where they are served tea.
The tea ceremony is considered the proper meeting of both families, and it is also when the bride and groom take their vows and exchange their rings. It is once the exchange has occurred, both the bride and groom will serve Green Tea or Chrysanthemum Tea as a sign of respect, starting with the eldest family members.
Thereafter, family members will gift the bride and groom with money, family jewellery, and advice for a long-lasting marriage. The ceremony concludes with the lighting of a big dragon and phoenix candle, symbolising the fusion of two families.
The ceremony ends with a lunch where the bride and groom are cheered to each table as they work their way around their family greeting them and thanking them for their gifts.
What To Wear At a Vietnamese Tea Ceremony
Traditionally the bride wears red as in Vietnamese culture red is associated with happiness and good fortune.
Similarly, the groom wears a blue ‘ao dai’ as in Vietnamese culture blue is associated with peace, calmness and hope. Modern day couples do stray from these traditional colours and choose to wear ‘ao dai’ in other colours.
When it comes to dress you will both need to wear an ‘ao dai’ which is a traditional Vietnamese garment often made of silk with various patterns and embroidery.
There are versions for men and women. Typically, the bride’s dress will be much more extravagant and detailed than her bridesmaids or the groom.
At a Vietnamese tea ceremony there is also a headpiece to be worn by the bride and groom called the Khan Dong which his like an open-top turban made of layers of fabric.
At weddings where guests are also wearing ‘ao dai’ the Khan Dong headpiece is how the bride and groom are singled out.
Tips for your Vietnamese Tea Ceremony
The bullet points below are just some of my advice for couples planning a Vietnamese tea ceremony.
I always guide my couples through every aspect of planning their tea ceremony well in advance of the day so that it goes without a hitch. But, here are the kind of things you might like to think about in advance.
My first piece of advice for couples having a Vietnamese Tea Ceremony on the morning of their wedding day is to get an early night. Vietnamese Tea Ceremonies start early in the morning at 8am – 9am. Brides you’ll need to be fully dressed and made up for then. So, you’ll be getting up very early and then needing to go right through to midnight.
Grooms, you’ve got to have all of your presents and procession arranged for before then. So, both of you are looking at an early start followed by a very long day so make sure you’re well rested beforehand. It’s important you stay hydrated all day and in all the excitement, don’t forget to eat!
· You really need to get as much organised before the day as possible and choose your bridal party/grooms party wisely so that you have people around you that can be relied upon to take care of the details.
You will also need to allocate time for family photographs. These images are likely to be very important to your family so putting aside time for them is essential. It’s important to get these done before lunch because once people sit down to eat their clothes may crease. You will also need to allow time for some romantic portrait images of the two of you in your traditional Vietnamese wedding attire.
· Choose an area for the Vietnamese tea ceremony that not only has as much natural light as possible but has the light evenly distributed. And clear back furniture to create as much space as possible so your guests don’t feel crammed in. This will enable your photographer to get the best images of you and your families.
· Get your timings drilled down. The Vietnamese tea ceremony will last about an hour from procession to gifts but you need to allow time for it to run over. Remember, you don’t precisely know how much advice and how many presents you will be given and your family members won’t want to feel rushed.