A rural wedding in Tra Que, Viet Nam.

The value of living sequentially in exotic locales is that you can experience cultural events first hand.

By renting a house in Tra Que (outside of Hoi An) we aim to immerse ourselves in this small farming community, for however long we stay and during this time observe and experience the ebbs and flow of the community around us.

Two days after moving in we are fortunate to be invited by our next door neighbors, to attend their son’s wedding party.

The question of marital status is a recurring topic as Vietnamese are very quick to ask: “are you married?” or “Your husband??”

This of course has much to do with the necessary earliest possible sizing of who you are in terms of status in the conversation. Issues of how old one is, whether married, whether we have children, what our job is…. occur in the first few minutes of most conversations.

Fun tidbits: (picked up, so far…)

*A Vietnamese man very rarely marries an older woman.
*Much pressure from  family to marry young and bear children soon.
*Having a son is culturally prized.
*Grandparents play a primordial role in child rearing.
*Four boys = lucky. Five girls = lucky. (We with our four boys, are validated with a “You lucky. Four boys, lucky.” (Indeed!)
* Fortune tellers are routinely consulted to establish a propicious date for the marriage, as well as time for the ceremony.
*Selection of a mate is a team sport which involves all the elders (parents, aunts, grandparents.)
*The bride moves in with the groom’s family. At least for the first month, but if finances are an issue, it could be indefinite.
*The relationship between bride and mother in law is a precarious one as the mother in law is quick to judge the new bride’s cooking ability, manner of speech, selection of clothes and colors etc.

The day before we  the wedding, we watch the tent with decorations go up. Right behind our house.
Peta congratulates the mother of the groom who is hosting the party, just in front of her house.  We have met her and husband before ~ working in the organic herb garden next to their house.
This is the path that cuts through the organic herb garden, leading to our house. How funny it is to see it lined with motorbikes of all the guests to the wedding party.
This is the party for the young couple’s friends and work colleagues. Everyone is waiting for the arrival of the bride.
This man, invited us and insisted that we sit at HIS table. He speaks no English, but we got the point and joined his table of friends.
The best part of the evening, besides the novelty of the event for us was for sure, the hilarity of the entertainment. Karaoke is center stage. The guests write the name of their selected song and this gets passed to the keyboard player. The master of ceremony calls guests up to provide the entertainment. When its good, its really good and nice to listen to. Some good voices out there and clearly much karaoke practice under their belts. When it’s not so good, it is hilariously funny for everyone!
The wine is poured into a pyramid of stacked wine glasses, till overflowing like a waterfall. This is a symbolic nod to a life overflowing with happiness and health together as a couple.
Platters of food keep coming ~ Starting with orange sticky rice in the shape of a heart and leading up to platters of large raw shrimp, scallops and beef ~ to be cooked at the table by the guests.
Peta tucks in with the guests.
Pyrotechnics on stage to celebrate the couple, as the party gets going.
Ben is enjoying the show.
More food and lots of beer.
The bride visiting each table, takes a moment to sit and rest.

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