2/19/2013 8:21:00 AM Vietnamese rites enrich weddings for couples in U.S.
Photos by Kim Nguyen
Nhu-ha Tran, wearing a traditional Vietnamese áo dài, is showered with gifts while her husband, Steve Lam, watches.
Family members present gifts draped in red, a lucky color.
Though Nhu-ha Tran and Steve Lam were born and raised in the United States, they felt it was important to honor their Vietnamese heritage when they married.
Before their wedding Mass at Our Lady of Lavang in Northeast Portland, the couple and their family observed a traditional tea ceremony, starting at 8 a.m., and ending the day with a reception that continued into the night.
“It made the day more hectic, but in the end I was happy that we did it. It was something that not everyone can say that they’ve done,” Tran said. “It made my parents happy, and it was nice to do something that was part of my culture.”
Lam’s family arrived at Tran’s family home, where they present gifts to the bride and her family, including an entire roast pig. Gifts are wrapped in red, a lucky color, and include betel leaves and areca nut, important symbols of love and marriage.
The couple burned incense at the bride’s ancestral altar, and then turn to honor their parents. After a tea ceremony, relatives took turns giving the new couple advice and warm wishes. On this day, newly united family members were introduced to one another.
Tran and Lam asked that the Mass be celebrated in English and Vietnamese, though most wedding rites at Lavang are Vietnamese-only. They wanted to say their vows in English, Tran said. She wore a dazzling red áo dài during the Vietnamese ceremony, and changed into a Western-style white gown for the Mass.
After the Mass, the procession moved to Lam’s family home, where the newlyweds visited the groom’s ancestral altar, and welcomed more well-wishers.
They finished the long day with a reception, where friends and family celebrated the couple’s nuptials into the night.
Tran and Lam both grew up in Portland. She is a dentist and he works at his family’s auto shop.