Traditional Vietnamese Wedding Gifts

by Elizabeth Burns

Traditional Vietnamese weddings are elaborate. Gifts are traditionally given by the groom’s family to the bride’s family, as well as from the families directly related to the bride and groom. The bride usually receives jewelry from her husband’s parents, while family and friends often give the bride and groom money. Betel leaves and areca nuts are typically bestowed on the couple because they symbolize love and marriage in Vietnam, dating back to an old tale in which the two items represent love that withstands even death.

Family Gifts

The wedding procession, known as “the procession to receive the bride,” is a time-honored tradition in Vietnam. It is when members of the groom’s family present the bride’s family with gifts. The groom and his family traditionally carry the gifts in lacquer boxes covered in red cloth to symbolize wealth. Gifts may include wine, fruit, cakes, tea, areca nuts and betel leaves. The gift bearers are welcomed into the bride’s home by her parents, after which the groom’s family asks permission of the bride’s parents for their son to marry their daughter.

Jewelry Gifts

Vietnamese brides are traditionally given jewelry by both sets of parents. Jewelry from the groom’s parents is carried to the bride’s home on the morning of the wedding; however, the bride only receives it after the wedding ceremony, when the couple kneels in front of an altar at the bride’s home and asks their ancestors’ permission to be married. The bride’s mother-in-law opens the boxes filled with jewelry and drapes her new daughter in bracelets, rings and precious gems.

Gifts of Money

Money is always a welcome gift for newlyweds in Vietnam, as it helps to offset the cost of the wedding. Guests present the couple with envelopes containing money, wedding cards and blessings during the wedding banquet. Children sometimes set up "road blocks" and ask wedding guests to pay "tolls" during the post-banquet procession from the bride’s home to the groom’s home. It is considered bad luck to refuse to pay the "tolls."

Symbolic Chalk

Vietnamese brides are presented with pink chalk by their future mothers-in-law on the morning of the wedding. This is the color of happiness and represents the young couple's future happiness. By bestowing chalk on the bride, her mother-in-law symbolically paints a rosy future for the couple. The chalk is a purely symbolic gift kept by the bride as a souvenir of her wedding day.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.