When Quynh and I broadcasted our engagement ceremony over the internet, we neglected to provide an explanation (or translation!) of what was happening, and most people felt a little lost watching the ceremony take place. “What are they doing? They’ve got rings… is this a wedding? I thought it was an engagement.” “There’s a lot of talking, and I can’t understand what they’re saying… when are they married?” To avoid that this time, here’s a brief overview of what we expect to happen during the wedding ceremony, that’ll be broadcast live as it happens, right here on doberman pizza (be sure to find your local time for the event so you don’t miss it—it’ll be 9 PM Eastern Time on March 5th, which is 9 AM on March 6th in Vietnam time).
- Introduction of the wedding ceremony’s program.
“Cultural” Vietnamese ceremony
- Introduction of the two families.
- A representative from the groom’s family presents gifts to the bride’s family.—These gifts, colloquially referred to as “red boxes”, contain traditional items—such as candles, tea, betel nuts, and so on—given to the bride’s family as a bride price, a long-standing custom in many Asian cultures.
- A representative from the bride’s family receives and accepts the red boxes.—A running joke during our engagement was that the bride’s family had the option to refuse the gifts, meaning the groom would have to leave and come back another time with better gifts before he could receive his future bride.
- The groom and bride present their two families.
- The groom gives the bride the wedding bouquet.
- Praying for ancestors.—Ancestor worship is a strongly rooted custom in many Asian cultures. In the Vietnamese custom, this includes burning candles and incense, offering fruit and flowers, and displays of veneration and respect such as bowing towards the altar, which is decorated with photos of the deceased. In a Baha’i ceremony, prayers are also offered.
- Reading the opening prayer.
- The groom offers a prayer and recites the Baha’i wedding vow.
- The bride offers a prayer and recites the Baha’i wedding vow.—The Baha’i wedding vow is a verse revealed by Baha’u’llah: “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.”
- The bride and groom exchange wedding rings.
- An excerpt from the guidance of ‘Abdu’l-Baha on marriage is read.
- A representative from the groom’s family confirms their acceptance of the bride as their daughter-in-law.
- A representative from the bride’s family confirms their acceptance of the groom as their son-in-law.
- The Chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Hải Châu, Da Nang, confirms the marriage.—A Baha’i marriage must be accepted as valid by the local Spiritual Assembly.
- Gifts from the two families, relatives and friends are offered.—Gifts (usually red envelopes) are given to the new couple at this point by those assembled.
- Either the bride or groom thanks those assembled.
- Reading the closing prayer.
- Break; the bride’s family gets ready to send the bride off.