Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

He Said, She Said & Bride-Counting

A Vietnamese woman filled me in on the politics of the Vietnamese wedding. 

Weddings last a few days because the bride's family and the groom's family will each have a separate wedding party.  The wedding ceremony itself will usually take place with the groom's family.  Nowadays, many brides (and often grooms, too) choose to follow the western tradition of wearing white, but any color prom dress will do.  After the ceremony, the bride returns to her family's home and changes into red clothes to signify that she has become a married woman.  After three days, the groom visits the bride's family to report on the "condition and worthiness" of the bride and to tell whether or not he is going to keep her or discard her.

An engagement can be broken by either party.  If the groom calls of the wedding, then it is understood that the woman is tainted and unworthy as a wife.  She will have to move to another district or some place where no one has ever heard of her in order find a husband.  Her reputation is ruined! 

If a bride calls off the wedding, then she must pay back twice the wedding costs fronted by the groom's family.  So, if the family paid her $1000 for the wedding dowry and ceremony, she must pay them $2000 in order to call the whole thing off.  If she can't come up with the money, then she has no choice but to go through with the wedding.  Of course, the groom suffers no consequences should the bride call off the wedding. 

As a feminist, this pisses me off!  That such an inequal balance of power still exists in our world, to the detriment of women, is ghastly. 

So, with that nasty bit of information aside, I'll move on those couples that do tie the knot.  In Hanoi, it can be a regular weekend passtime to go bride-counting at any of the local parks.  In my neighborhood, this is especially true because I live by Hoan Kiem Lake (very historically important and lovely) and Lenin Park (with a big lake, swan boats, lots of lovely bridges, gardens, nooks, and crannies).  Both places attract many wedding parties hoping to capture the perfect wedding photo.  Here are some of the brides I counted on one Saturday morning on a stroll through Lenin Park:

Notice that this picture has two brides.

Looks like this groom's ready to get the party started!

This dirt heap is a beautiful setting for a wedding photo.

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