Đám Hỏi – A Vietnamese Engagement Ceremony

My fiancée and I decided to have a traditional Vietnamese engagement ceremony so that our parents could get a chance to meet. We wanted to host a ceremony that faithfully captures the essence of Vietnamese traditions, and infuse it with elements of Christianity. The thing is: neither of us are very traditional, so preparing for this event meant doing lots of research! Hopefully this will help couples plan their event in the future.

The Procession

It begins with the groom and his family making their way over to the bride’s house. Men from the groom’s side each carry a tray, called mâm quả. Traditionally, there are an even number of trays, a roasted pig, and a tea set.

Engagement Ceremony Entourage

Engagement Ceremony Entourage

The groom’s parents knock on the door, and a representative from the bride’s family greets them, and tells the groom’s family to wait while the bride gets ready.

Vietnamese Bride Waiting

The bride, patiently waiting

My little brother led off the line-up with the tea set. The rest of the gifts are in trays, 16-inches in diameter. Gifts can include:

  • Betel and Areca – trầu cau, symbolic of marriage in Vietnamese culture
  • Tea
  • Champagne
  • Fruit – this is usually the heaviest!
  • Sticky Rice
  • Cakes

The bridesmaids line up outside of the house and accept the gifts from the groom’s family.

Engagement Ceremony Gift Exchange

Engagement Ceremony Gift Exchange

The Ceremony

The bridesmaids bring the gift inside so that the groom’s family (in my case, my mother) presents them to the bride’s family.

Engagement Ceremony Gifts

Engagement Ceremony Gifts

The next part is the family introductions: a representative from each family introduces the members of their respective families. Once introductions are done, the bride is brought in to meet her new in-laws.

Since our two families are Christian, we invited our pastor to share a few encouraging words.

Next, my mother presented the bride-to-be with jewelry. Traditionally, the bride is given a pair of earrings and an engagement ring. In our case, we commissioned some pieces to be made in Vietnam – specifically the three gold necklaces.

Engagement Ceremony Jewelry Set

Engagement Ceremony Jewelry Set

We concluded the ceremonial portion by serving tea to our parents.

Vietnamese Tea Ceremony

Vietnamese Tea Ceremony

Afterwards, guests were invited to stay for a small meal. We had family members helping out non-stop in the kitchen!

Dam Hoi Food

Dam Hoi Food

At the end of the ceremony, the bride’s takes half of the gifts (that’s why you bring two of everything!) and gives it back to the groom’s family.

The Outfits

To finish up, here’s a close-up of my fiancee’s outfit: a modern take on the traditional áo dài.

Vietnamese female áo dài

Vietnamese female áo dài

… and a happy-couple picture!

Traditional Vietnamese áo dài

Traditional Vietnamese “áo dài”

  • architart

    The gold necklaces are gorgeous! May I know what to call it and who you ordered it from?

    • Thanks! I believe they’re called kien (kee-un), but they’re incredibly difficult to find. Your best bet would be at a Vietnamese jewelry store; we had a relative buy them for us in Viet Nam. There’s a closer photo on the following post, http://www.tuanhuynh.com/blog/2014/making-a-jewelry-box/

      Good luck, let me know if you’re able to track one down!