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Here's the story of how I ended up attending a wedding in Vietnam.
It all started on Monday, March 16, 2009... 

I was having my nails done at my local salon in Santa Barbara, and I mentioned to Kathy, my manicurist, that I was going to Viet Nam in four months. She said, “ You should come to my wedding” As one does I said, “ Sure, I will try to see if our schedule will fit around the wedding. However, I said, “I am with a group so it probably will be difficult.” Kathy gave me two telephone numbers explaining they were local mobiles in Viet Nam and not to ring them until I arrived.

As you may know, the flight from New York to Abu Dhabi is 24 hours. Then you have to fly to Bangkok and on to Hanoi in Vietnam. By the time, we actually arrived I was pretty shattered. , I had no idea where Kathy lived in Viet Nam. Was it North? Was it South?

The second day, I dialed the numbers and Kathy answered. I gave her our schedule and she explained that in fact the one-day we were in Wue was actually the day of her wedding and I should come. I checked with her to see if it was a formal wedding and she said it was. In fact, it was to be a traditional wedding with local finery, which I could rent from a local wedding shop.

When we arrived in Wue that evening, before the weddin,g I asked the hotel to help me hire a costume. They said they would arrange for someone to come and pick me up in 15 minutes. I dropped my case and ran downstairs, thinking a taxi would be waiting. Instead, there was a young girl with two motorbike helmets.

Now, in Viet Nam there are thousands of motorbikes, it is the major source of transportation. The people abide by few rules of the road and are erratic in their driving habits to say the least. My heart sank
as I thought...well, if I die on the back of this scooter at least it will be a different death. It was rush hour in Wue and it drizzles there most of the time, hence the wonderful rice crops. The ride took us about 15 minutes through dense and swerving traffic. The Vietnamese are mostly quite small so I loomed over the tiny girl driving, looking like Gulliver’s Travel Giant.

The wedding shop was very nice and the dresses for hire were beautiful. There was only one problem ‘the giant’ did not fit in any of them. Finally, we found one dress, which actually worked, and a beautiful one it was. However, there seemed to be a lot of dialogue about a ‘corset’.  My advisor explained in English that I needed to be smaller on the top so we had to go to another shop for the corset. It was back on the scooter and off to a lingerie sho. After we arrived back at the wedding shop we had another big problem. I was too tall for the trousers. The solution reached was to make an elastic drop around the hip. A bit like the rappers wear so the trousers drop away from the waist and hit their buttocks. This made them ankle length instead of Capri trousers.

I arranged a car in the morning to take me to the village where Kathy’s parents lived. It was a forty-minute drive there and back. I had to be at a restaurant by 3:00 prepared to travel with my group. Our Chinese guide, Johnny was quite nervous that I would not be back in time to take the coach, which was driving us to Danage and really did not want me to go. I was determined to attend the wedding at all costs!

The road to the village was not particularly good and it was raining quite heavily when we left the hotel. It really did not matter because the scenery was spectacular. Miles of rice fields with water buffalo and locals working in the fields. The young children, of whom there are many as schools are not free in Vietnam so the poor children do not attend classes. They ride the buffalo on their backs either standing or sitting. Most of the people wear a straw hat that is conical in shape with a drawstring to keep them in place.

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We arrived at Kathy’s house, which was on the main road at about 9:30 am. It was garlanded with flowers and when you entered there were tables and chairs for the
luncheon, which was to follow the wedding. A small disco band was set up and a tub holding champagne for the reception.

I was whisked off upstairs to watch Kathy dress and have her hair done by a hairdresser from Hanoi. Kathy is very beautiful as you will see in the photos but her hair is particularly eye catching. Coal black and very long. The hairdresser wound it into a lace like bun near the top of her head as there is a special hat that is worn for the ceremony and the knotted hair fits inside encircled by the band.

I went downstairs after she was ready and joined the family members, and the other young people from Santa Barbara. We waited for the groom to arrive with gifts and the wedding cake. There was a priest or a monk not quite sure what his title was but he certainly was important).

The bride’s family greets the groom and his male family members at the door with the bridesmaids. The ceremony then begins and there is an exchange of gifts to the bride from the groom’s mother, the groom, and the bride’s mother. These were beautiful diamond earrings, a necklace and a bracelet. The bride made tea for her mother and the priest said a prayer. Then the rings were exchanged. Some of us gave gifts of envelopes with money; only the ones visiting from another place gave these, which included me.

After the blessing there was to be a lunch, a singing party with the disco which gladly I missed as I cannot sing a note! The bride has three wedding dresses, a traditional Vietnamise dress, a Western dress, and one to do the karaoke.

I hope you enjoy sharing the wedding with me and their  wonderful family.

Here's the photo slide show.