With over 80,000 foreigners living and working in Vietnam, as well as increasing numbers of Vietnamese working and studying abroad, more mixed-nationality and expat couples are opting to tie the knot on Vietnamese soil.
In addition to the local wedding market, the growing trend for ‘destination weddings’ means that plenty of international couples who are not resident in Vietnam are also choosing to celebrate their special day in the country. Vietnam offers beautiful landscapes at a relatively affordable price—whether it’s a beach, mountain, city or rural backdrop, considering the escalating costs of weddings globally.
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The Legalities of getting married in Vietnam
If a foreigner is getting married to a Vietnamese national, there is quite a bit of documentation to prepare for legal marriage registration. Unfortunately, this paperwork is not as straightforward as it could be, with all documents needing to be translated into Vietnamese and certified, before being submitted to the Department of Justice in Vietnam. There may be slight variations depending on the nationality of the foreigner so it’s best to check the exact requirements with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country.
For two non-Vietnamese people considering getting married in Vietnam, this is only possible if at least one of the couple has either a permanent or temporary residency permit in Vietnam. If neither person has a residency permit, then they will need to marry in their home country or in a nearby country with more relaxed rules such as Malaysia or Thailand. If you are living in Vietnam, you can always have a blessing, ceremony or celebration locally after you’ve married elsewhere.
Once the documentation is arranged, it is then possible to have both a religious or civil wedding ceremony in Vietnam. A civil ceremony takes place at the local Department of Justice, whereas a religious marriage can take place in a church, temple or other venues such as a hotel.
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Mixed-Nationality Weddings in Vietnam; a Blend Of Customs
According to The Planners, a premium wedding planners and consultancy in Vietnam, mixed-nationality couples tend to plan smaller celebrations than their local counterparts. An average Vietnamese wedding hosts more than 400 guests, whereas mixed couples often prefer around 100 guests.
This difference in customs relates back to the cultural values attached to weddings: in Vietnam weddings are seen are large extended-family affairs, with the parents’ guests often dominating half the list, in contrast to the typically Western preference for a more private, intimate celebration with closest friends and family. To address this difference, many mixed-nationality couples choose to have two separate weddings, one adhering to Vietnamese customs and one more traditionally ‘Western’ in style.
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The Planners also disclose that mixed-nationality or international couples are more inclined towards the ‘destination wedding’ trend, with al fresco beach ceremonies in Danang, Nha Trang and Mui Ne proving popular. Other Western wedding customs have now become the norm, such as exchanging vows—which was not traditionally part of a Vietnamese wedding before.
Despite some differences in customs, most mixed-nationality couples do want to maintain certain important Vietnamese wedding traditions in dedication and respect to their spouse’s Vietnamese family and culture—particularly the ceremonies involving collecting the bride from her family home.
Wedding Dresses and Suits Tailor-made in Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City provides good options for couples looking for the perfect wedding outfits, particularly for those wanting something tailored from scratch. If you’re looking for something unique, Danish designer Elisabeth Rolskov offers bespoke couture bridal gowns. ER Couture does not copy existing designs, but Elisabeth will work with her clients to conceive their dream wedding dress, adding little details that reflect the personality of the bride.
If you are in need of some inspiration or are looking for existing designs, Sue Ann Bridal in District 1 sells the collections of high-end international designers such as Ronald Joyce, Mori Lee and MGNY, as well as bridesmaids’ dresses and bridal accessories. You can also browse the overwhelming number of bridal shops lining Ho Van Hue in Phu Nhuan district, where hundreds of extravagant gowns are available to buy or rent. For a mid-range option, Cee’s Bridal is a local contemporary bridal-wear brand selling and leasing its beautiful collection as well as offering custom dress designs.
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For grooms, Dung Tailors in District 1 can create a wide range of tailored suits and offer plenty of choice in terms of fabrics, linings and cut. The best way to scope this tailor is to visit the shop for a consultation and to review fabrics. The tailor will need to take measurements and perform several fittings, but a suit can be made from scratch in around four weeks.
Bridal hair and makeup is also very affordable in Ho Chi Minh City: Trang Phan’s team of hair stylists and makeup artists will work with clients to get the perfect look on their wedding day.
Wedding Planners in Saigon
For couples opting to hold their celebration at a hotel or restaurant, normally there will be an in-house events team to take care of the planning, concept and execution of your wedding day. If you are looking for some additional support or plan to hold your wedding in a less conventional venue, you may want to hire a wedding planner. There are several good Saigon-based events and production companies, including The Planners and Bliss.
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Finding the Right Venue
There are countless beautiful spots across Vietnam to hold a wedding, from luxury beach resorts to mountain retreats. If you’re getting married in Ho Chi Minh City the options may be a little more limited, but there are a number of interesting wedding venues in Saigon. The first place to start may be some of Saigon’s major hotels with large event spaces.
Larger weddings are regularly held at Lotte Legend, InterContinental, The Reverie, Le Meridien, PARKROYAL, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers or Pullman Saigon Center, while for a more private affair we would suggest The Myst Dong Khoi or New World Saigon Hotel.
If you are looking for a convention center rather than a hotel, try The Adora Dong Phuong Group. They have reception rooms all over Saigon, which can accommodate even the largest of celebrations.
Those who seek a peaceful, rural setting close to the city centre should check Binh An Village, which hosts events in its 12,000sqm of garden space. An Lam Retreats Saigon River is another al fresco riverside setting with plenty of space and a professional team to support the celebrations.
Another unique wedding venue can be found at Villa Song, a French colonial-style villa and luxury boutique hotel in Thao Dien. There are several restaurants that would also work well for a wedding, such as The Deck in District 2, a large, stylish space overlooking the river.
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Capture the Moment: Wedding Photographers in Saigon
If you’re looking to embrace Vietnamese customs, then you will want to do the ubiquitous pre-wedding photo shoot. Many couples choose to have their photos taken before the actual wedding day, posing against a scenic backdrop and dressed in their full wedding gear. There is plenty of choice when it comes to wedding photographers in Saigon: Khoi Le Studios is a boutique company of four wedding photographers, based in Ho Chi Minh City and available to shoot weddings across Vietnam. Mervin Lee is an independent photographer from Singapore with years of experience shooting both Asian and western weddings and also one of City Pass Guide’s favourite contributors.
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