There’s always a why behind everything we do. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it takes a cocktail to get to the bottom of things haha. When it comes to Matron of Style, though, the why behind it is simple: family.
Like a lot of kids my age (yes, I certainly consider myself a womanchild), my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles came to the US in 1975. They left behind everything they knew to come to a foreign country to start anew. There was the eminent struggle of assimilation, and when my brothers and I were born, it was a constant balancing act between Vietnamese upbringing alongside American culture.
Fast forward forty years and our community commemorates the Fall of Saigon. And as a Vietnamese-American, I reflect on my family’s hardship and sacrifice. I came to a deeper appreciation of their decision to immigrate. My family’s escape to a new country ensured their unborn grandchildren and children the opportunity to be better, to be educated, to choose their path in life, and to choose who to fall in love with.
In 2011, Ong Xa (Vietnamese for husband) and I got engaged and finding information about traditional Vietnamese engagement ceremonies (also known as le hoi, an hoi, dam hoi, tea ceremony) was tedious. Asking our parents got us pretty far, then asking Ong Ba Ngoai or Noi (maternal / paternal grandparents) got us a little farther. Eventually, I’d venture to Little Saigon (Westminster, CA) with my mom. But there comes a point, when you hit a wall because of a generational gap or language barrier.
Have you ever noticed that Vietnamese culture is oral—meaning either someone told you about something or you witnessed it first hand? Hardly a thing is written down. So, here I am to write it down; to specifically recount the planning and executing of traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremonies. While at it, I hope to help modern Vietnamese Brides and Grooms honor their grandparents, parents and roots.
Everything posted on Matron of Style aims to serve as a guide. Variations of ceremonies are inevitable, but it takes a làng (Vietnamese for village) to make a wedding into a beautiful gathering of family and friends in the name of LOVE. So pass me that tôm hùm (special occasion lobster) and pour me some cognac…Vôôôôôô!!!!…Let’s get this blog started!