There was no đón dâu (fetching of the bride), no thách cưới (gifts stipulated by the bride’s family). No mother-in-law had to leave for a neighbor’s house, bình vôi (lime pot) in hand, to signal her willingness to cede the matriarchal reins.
The brides walked in side by side, hands clasped, as tall as the windows lining the 19th-century New England ballroom. Moments before, their siblings had brought in ume wine and trays of ngũ quả covered with red cloths for the lễ tơ hồng (a tribute to the god of matrimony). The fruit selection embodied our collective wishes for the couple: Bountiful love, a long life to relish each other’s successes and shoulder each other’s worries.
The brides shared a cup of the ume wine to pledge that they will always be as intoxicated with each other as they were on their wedding day. Months later, they brought home a rescue dog whose name rhymed with mê ly (bliss).
Photos by EmCi