Monday, February 2, 2009

The Wedding Celebration - Saturday January 17th

We arrived at 6:15 after a thrilling cab ride that included a U-turn in heavy traffic. There must have been 200 cars and bikes coming at us and our driver just pulled into their path and made his turn. So we arrived safely at our destination and walked through the courtyard to meet the bride and groom.

An wore a white gown tonight, different from her red gown from the ceremony. Brides can have up to five different outfits during the two days of celebration.

Once again, we were seated at the groom’s table, a real honor for a non-family member. Doug’s friends, Anna, Erin and Dwayne joined us along with Hai. An advantage of sitting at this table is that you are served rather than having to serve yourself.

As we sat down, the men were all given a warm beer with a glass. The glass was filled with a large ice cube to chill the brew. Women were given water or soda. It was not until later that, after I acquired a beer for Stacy, the women were served beer, if they wanted it.

Bao Anh and Phuong Vo arrived, late, as they had told us , at about 7PM. Bao Anh came to our table and gave Stacy a gift – earrings.

Music was being played, the same 4 or 5 songs over and over, but I don’t think anyone noticed. But, at 7, the entertainment began. There was a stage with a huge banner for Doug and An, announcing their marriage and also a champagne pyramid, ice swans and a wedding cake. I found it sort of unusual that we did not partake in the champagne or cake.

On stage, a Spanish dance and song performance took place, followed by a violinist playing “Ave Maria”. A parade of the bridesmaids and groomsmen followed and then the bride and groom. They all went to the stage and were met with a shower of pyrotechnics.

After the bridal party arrived on stage, families of the bride and groom followed and spoke to the room, in Vietnamese, of course, so I have no idea what was said.
At one point, Dwayne – Doug’s friend, was handed the microphone, by Hai, after all of the tributes and all he said was “Dwayne”. I don’t think he had any idea what was said before either.

After that, food was served. It was similar to the feast we shared yesterday after the ceremony – Chicken, fish, other seafood and a small pig. And again, the feast ended with soup.

During the meal, we were visited by many of An’s family. Her aunt, her parents and her sister all came to talk with us and thank us for coming so far to be at the wedding. It was an experience that I am happy to have attended.

I also spoke extensively with Hai and hoped that he would consider my offer of staying in touch so that we could discuss our roles during the “American” War as is called in Vietnam.

All throughout the hall, you could hear the very popular drinking chant of “một hai ba Dzo" or One, two, three, Cheers” This chant can be heard in Bia Hoi bars daily, all over Vietnam.

Before all of the food was even served, many were leaving. It was unlike any other wedding reception that I ever attended. The place was empty as our table stood up to leave. Almost everyone had gathered outside and Doug and An took their place to say good night to those leaving.

We bid farewell to the bride and groom. I thanked An for her invitation and headed out to find a taxi to take us back to the Palace Hotel. We walked around a bit, taking in the decorations for Tet, before we headed to our room to prepare for our flight to Hue.

Saigon was an experience. I never made it here while I served during the war. It is definitely a city that I would like to have spent more time in. It was nice to meet the three friends I have been working with and talking two over the past two years.

We would still have a few hours in the morning to explore a bit more. Our first city on our schedule was definitely a winner.

1 comment:

  1. Bob, I also found it strange that we were not partaking of the champagne or the cake, it wasn't till after An and I paid off the bill for the party that we were given a box with the 1 tier of real cake. Dwayne, Aaron, Anna, An and I partook of it later that night and I was sad that we could not share any with you and Stacey. I still don't know why we never got any champagne.