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Return to Vietnam 2008
Vietnam 2008 -- The Wedding

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As I mentioned in the Introduction, the main reason I was able to go to Vietnam in September was to tag along with my good friend Minh, whose brother was getting married in Hanoi.

Initially I didn't really expect to be invited to the wedding, but Minh's brother and bride-to-be changed all that, and I got a very nice invitation in the mail.

Apparently when you are accepted as "part of the family" in Vietnamese culture,
Toasts at the weddingMe with the groom's Family
you are really accepted as part of the family. Minh's parents could not have been nicer or more accepting of me, to the point where I accompanied the tradition visit of the groom's family to the bride's family, and I was included in the traditional festivities that preceded the huge wedding reception.

So there I was, The Idiot Abroad, cast adrift amongst a sea of Vietnamese wedding-celebrationists, not speaking a word of Vietnamese and doing my best to look like a part of the family.

Okay, so maybe that part didn't work out, but nevertheless, all of the family members on both sides went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome.

After the meeting at the home of the bride's parents – who own a grocery store, one of those typical Vietnamese shops, with the business on the ground floor and the living quarters on one or more floors above – we left and went to the government hall where the big festivities were taking place.

Apparently the bride's father is pretty well connected, since the former police chief of Hanoi was there, as were several men who evidently had been former high-ranking officials in the NVA. Most of them went out of their way to come up and shake my hand and welcome me to Vietnam. I don't know how they knew I was a foreigner, unless it was the Hawaiian shirt…

I took probably 100 pictures of the wedding. Unfortunately my camera was stolen that night, and the photos you see here are ones taken by Minh.
Toasts at the weddingToasts to the groom's parents at the wedding
Because I was taking pictures along with him, we figured that he didn't need to pose for any photos with his family with me using his camera. Wrong.

Nevertheless, you can see from the slideshow that this wedding was A Very Big Deal, and I feel very privileged to have been invited to attend.