My travel plans and itineraries have changed slightly since my last E-mail. Im married, but have not traveled to Hoi An for the honeymoon yet, which Ill explain later. I first want to give some details about the wedding, because many had asked about it.
Ha and I were married in traditional Vietnamese custom and ceremonies. Although different from a Western ceremony, the wedding turned out to be a lot less complicated than I was lead to believe. The wedding had four basic parts to it, which are:
Vietnamese couples have an engagement ceremony in lieu of a wedding proposal. This is basically a party between the families to formally announce the marriage intentions of the bride and groom. The engagement ceremony was held on the November 9th. My family caravan to Has parents place with food candies and booze. Pictures were taken. Speeches were made. I was told to fetch Ha out of her room, which formally indicates that Ha and I were engaged. After that, everyone ate like pigs and drank like fish. The engagement ceremony is usually a few months before the wedding. Ours was set just a few days before our wedding to accommodate for all the traveling that my family had to do.
Ha and I had our traditional Vietnamese marriage ceremony last Sunday (November 12th). The wedding was in three parts and two ceremonies. This would give the impression of being complicated, but it turned out to be very easy and simple.
The first ceremony was at Has parents place, and followed a similar pattern as the engagement ceremony. My family had caravan over. Pictures were taken. Speeches were made. Someone told me to get Ha from her room, and we were married after that. It was literally that simple. No preacher, monk, church or vows were involved. Ha and I were whisked away shortly after to take wedding pictures around Hanoi while the family caravan to the wedding reception.
The wedding reception is where the rest of the family and friends participate in the wedding. It was held at the Government Guest House, which is a stones throw from Huan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. Heres some coordinates for those of you using Google Earth: 21° 1’36.60″N, 105°51’16.63″E. It seemed like Ha and I were taking pictures non-stop for two hours straight after we arrived, because every aunt, uncle, cousin, friend or neighbor lined up for photos with us. We were ready to parade through the reception when the photo-op drew down enough for us to work our way into the building. I was still expecting a formal exchange of vows, even though we were already married by this time. The only formal exchange was the rings and a kiss. Once again, no preacher, monk or church was involved. The whole ceremony was remarkably simple. It just took three days to go through it.
Ha and my family spent several months preparing the reception and especially the selection of food. The food was excellent from what I heard. However, I didnt get a single bite of it because Ha and I proceeded to greet and take pictures with every single person that came to the reception. We were, again, whisked away to take more pictures moments after we greeted the last guest.
Both families caravan to my familys place and proceeded with the final part of the wedding ceremony while Ha and I were taking more wedding pictures. It is customary for the brides family to inspect the bedroom before the wedding couple is allowed to retire to it. I figured this would be the most embarrassing part of the whole wedding, and I was correct. Not only did both families parade through our bedroom, the photographer took dozens of pictures too. The line was crossed when the photographer wanted pictures of us in bed. Subsequently, I threw the photographer and anyone that wasnt my wife out of the bedroom, which ended the public part of the wedding. Shortly after that, Ha and I unwrapped our presents .
What Happened to the Honeymoon?
As I indicated a few times before, Ha and I were to be on our honeymoon in Hoi An right now. These plans have been set back a little bit, because of my Dads recent change in his health condition. I am happy to say that his health is improving.
My Dad suffers from numerous health problems related to his tour of duty in Vietnam, and, the best place to treat him appears to be Vietnam. He just started acupuncture therapy that is already causing great improvements in his health. It will take a couple weeks before it can be determined whether the therapy is working, and the familys travel plans will be determined based on the results. Its likely that Ha and I will leave for Hoi An sometime next week and then to Saigon where we will stay until I return to America.
Pictures, Pictures, Pictures .
There are a few of you who would swim here and beat the hell out of me if I didnt produce some pictures for you to look at. Im not going to let you down. Following is a link to some of the wedding pictures with many more to come:
[ click here ]
Things are settled down a bit since the wedding, and it looks like I will be in better contact than I expected during my honeymoon travels. Ill catch up on things with a few e-mails over the next few days.
Ha wants me to unwrap my wedding present now, so Im going to close this E-mail.
I hope everyone is well, and please write back with more questions.
Dan Harley, Jr.