Vietnamese engagement ceremony is an important ceremony before the wedding which involve both fiancé’s and fiancée’s families.
In the past, engagement ceremony was considered very important even than the wedding ceremony because it was an official day to announce the wedding, the relationship between two families. Nowadays, it is less important and varied for each region. In the big city the engagement ceremony could be celebrated 1 day before (and 1 month in the countryside) the wedding ceremony.
Before the engagement day, each family chooses a representative. This person is a member of the family which has a happy life and a high ranking position in the family. Both of representatives do representation, exchange gifts and controlling the flow of the ceremony. Besides choosing the representatives, both families sit together to negotiate the dowry and the good time for the ceremony. The time is chosen very carefully based on the propitious time and day of lunar calendar.
The gifts are prepared by the fiancé family several days before the engagement ceremony. Traditionally the gifts was placed a number of trays. The number must be an odd number 5, 7 or 9… trays depends on the condition of the fiancé family. The gifts are covered by the red color paper or cloth. In Vietnamese beliefs, the odd number and the red color will bring luck to the young couple. The gifts include betel leaves, areca nut fruits (trầu, cau), wine, tea, husband-wife cake (bánh phu thê) and sticky rice... one of the most important gift is the whole roasted pig which placed in a large tray. Both families also choose 5, 7 or 9 people who bring and receive the gifts. These people must be young and not marriage. Boys represent for fiancé bearing the gifts and girls represent for fiancée receiving the gifts.
On the engagement day, the fiancé family brings the gifts to the fiancée family with the warmly welcome. After receiving the gifts, the young couple prays in front of the fiancée’s family altar to ask for approval of fiancée ancestors. When this ritual finishes, the fiancé give the fiancée the engaged ring.
Following the engaged ring giving, the both representatives introduced the member of both families in an order. Then both family enjoy the party which prepared by the fiancée family. It is also expected that some of gifts are returned to the fiancé family for luck before the fiancé family leaves.
The days after the engagement ceremony to the wedding ceremony, the parents of fiancée family bring the wedding cards with gifts to their friends, family members… and neighbors to invite them to the wedding party of their young couple.