Vietnam Engagement Ceremony: In Vietnam, the engagement is a festive ceremony involving the fiance's and fiancee's families, and arranged in advance by the parents. The engagement is considered very important, and in some areas, even more important than the wedding.
Well before the engagement day, each family chooses two representatives from their side. The representatives can be family members or friends, but are usually a married couple who have a happy family of their own. Although there are two representatives, the man is the one who actually does the representation, requesting for the fiancee's hand in marriage on behalf of the fiance's family, exchanging gifts, and controlling the flow of the ceremony.
In addition to selecting their representatives, the families get together to negotiate the dowry and a date and time for the ceremony. Traditionally, the date and time are chosen based on the fiance's and fiancee's dates and hours of birth, but in a fast-paced society, such as that of the United States, it is usually a matter of convenience.
Several days prior to the engagement day the fiance's parents prepare gifts to proffer to the fiancee's family. These gifts include betel leaves and areca nut fruits (trau cau), wine, tea, husband-wife cake (banh phu the), sticky rice, other foods, and jewelry. They are placed in trays and wrapped in red plastic paper, with the belief that red will bring good luck. In addition to the other foods, a whole pig is roasted and placed in a large tray, to be carried to the fiancee's home by two young men. Meanwhile, the fiance is getting the ring ready, and the fiancee, preparing herself for the ceremony.
On engagement day, the fiance's family bear the gifts to the fiancee's home and is greeted by the fiancee's family. Once everyone is inside, the fiance's representative asks the other representative for the fiancee's hand in marriage on behalf of his party. The fiancee's representative graciously accepts the gifts and presents the fiancee to her in-laws to be united. Together, the engaged couple prays in front of the family altar and asks their ancestors for approval. When the prayer is finished, the fiance places the engagement ring on his fianced's finger.
Following the ring presentation, the representatives formally introduce their party's family members according to his or her family role. From this moment forward, the fiance and fiancee are official members of their in-law family, and should refer to their in-law family members by their respective roles--"dad", "mom", "uncle", "aunt", and so forth. The parents in return accept a new son or daughter into their own family. After the ceremony, the families celebrate the momentous occasion with a feast organized by the fiancee's family. It is expected that half of the food gifts received be unwrapped and shared before the fiance's family leaves.
The day after the engagement, the engaged couple and their parents visit their neighbors, friends, co-workers, and relatives who could not attend the ceremony. They bring some betel leaves and areca nuts, tea and/or wines to spread the good fortune.