Post # 1
Hello brides, I’m hoping you can help me out with some advice regarding gifts for my fiancé at the tea ceremony. First, I am a Caucasian groom, and my fiancé is Vietnamese-American. From what I have been able to gather in conversations with my fiancé and her mother, it is expected that at the tea ceremony my parents present my fiancé with gifts of jewelry…at the very least a pair of diamond earrings, but potentially a necklace and tennis bracelet as well. This is all somewhat new to my parents…needless to say, they were not expecting to have to do this. I think they expected to have to help me buy a gift for my fiancé, but I don’t think they realize this is a bit of a step up, and a bigger expense than they expected. I desperately want for them to present a gift or gifts that will be acceptable to not only to my fiancé, but most importantly, her family.
So I am trying to help my parents (and myself) by finding out exactly what they should buy, and about how much to expect to pay. This is all very touchy of course. The whole idea makes me very uncomfortable because it is almost like putting a price tag on my fiancé…in other words, that the amount or price of the jewelry in some way represents how highly my parents think of her. Do you think my fiancé’s parents view these gifts like this? I really hope not, but I would also hate to get it wrong. And I also hesitate to ask my fiancé’s parents directly in terms of what they expect my parents to buy. It kind of defeats the concept of a “gift”, but maybe this is the wrong way to think about it too?
Anyway, if you have had friends, family, acquaintances that have participated in a tea ceremony and have received jewelry from the groom’s parents, and have thoughts about what is acceptable, I would very much appreciate your advice.
If you know specifics (type of jewelry, quality, size, price) that would be really helpful, although I know this largely depends on the financial standing of those involved.
Thanks so much!
Post # 3
I’m Chinese American so I think the customs might be slightly different than Vietnamese Americans. I have to say that I think it’s different for every famly. Are they super traditional? The other thing is sometimes when you think a family is fairly modern you realize when it comes to the marriage of their daughter suddenly they become very traditional.
I think it would be kinda taboo to ask her parents directly. But talk to your fiance, see what her opinion is. Because every family dynamic is different. Have you approached the topic of dowry yet? Because that might give you some insight as to how they would feel about this topic.
And to be honest, I haven’t thought about this yet either!
Personally, usually I’ve seen the grooms parents give the bride a gold necklace and tennis bracelet. No earrings, but that’s just what I’ve seen.
But thanks for bringing this to MY attention because I totally forgot! Must talk with Fiance now.
Post # 4
a_groom, welcome to the hive!
I agree that you should talk to your fiancee about this before making any decisions. I’m not vietnamese but also have some sort of "dowry" traditions as well. Back in the day, dowry would be considered a way to pay respect to the girl’s family and welcoming the girl into your family since usually in asian background, the girl would move into the groom’s house after they wed. Dowry used to be consist of money, jewelry, land, animals depending on the background.
Jewelry is most popular though and doesn’t have to be 24k yellow gold. My sister got married a couple of years ago and she got white gold diamond necklace and bracelet. My family isn’t as traditional so she had a say on what type of jewelry she wanted. It’s usually a set of some sort. Quality is very important, I must say!
I’m sure your fiancee can help you out and let you in what her parents would expect. If they aren’t as traditional, then it would help alleviate some pressure you’re feeling.
Post # 5
Does she have any sisters or female cousins that recently went through this? Maybe you can find out what the groom’s family gifted those brides and figure out the expectations within your fiancee’s family. I would think that they would be a bit more understanding if this is not part of your culture but I guess you never know!
Definitely talk to your fiancee and see if she can talk to her parents or other relatives to get more info for you. It would definitely be awkward for you to approach her parents yourself and ask what they expect of you!
Post # 6
Welcome groom! I think it’s really nice that you want to respect your fiance’s culture and took the time to ask the Bees for their experience and advice!
I agree with most of the pp. Some sort of gift (jewelry being the most common) is usually exchanged at the tea ceremony. From my chinese wedding and other friends and family’s weddings I have attended, gold jewelry is usually most common and in particular, good quality 24k yellow gold. It’s a symbol of welcoming and also that you have the "ability" to take care of your fiance.
Both my parents and IL are more modern so actually I received a pair of gold bracelets with the dragon/phoenix symbol, but the rest of the gifts were not yellow gold.
I don’t think your parents should be spending any amount that they are not comfortable with. Definitely talk to your fiance. And she can communicate to her parents in a respectable way what their wishes are. Her parents must also realize that since your family is not Vietnamese, they need to be less stringent on any traditions.
Post # 7
I agree with the other posters. I’m marrying a Caucasian groom and his family doesn’t understand our traditions, and it doesn’t help that my parents are super-traditional. My family however does not expect them to know/follow our tradititions. We are doing a private tea ceremony with my family and I don’t think his parents are going to attend. If they do, then a red envelope will be enough. As a somewhat funny story, his brother also married a chinese bride. At their tea ceremony, his parents were instructed to give a red envelope. When the bride opened the red envelope later in private, she was shocked to see it was empty. No one explained that there was supposed ot be cash inside to the parents!
Post # 8
Hi A Groom,
I am a Vietnamese American bride and really it depends on how traditional the families are. We aren’t. My mother in law asked me what I wanted. Since I don’t want a bracelet I asked for earrings. My mother is getting me a necklace. Again with the price… its really about what your own fiance wants. My earrings will not be more than $1000. The diamond necklace my mother is getting me is a little under $3000. I don’t really care how about the price tag.. but in a way its to "save face" with other family members. (Both parents don’t want to look cheap infront of their families)
Post # 9
First, I want to apologize for the long delay from original post until now. Really lame to throw out all those questions and then disappear. SORRY! It was a hectic time when I wrote the post, then I forgot I even did it! Anyway, when I remembered, I was so pleased to see al the thoughtful responses and great advice. Thank you all so much, sorry I don’t have the time to thank you all individually.
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for now and I’ll be back with an update!
Post # 10
@a_groom: I’m in a similar situation but on the other end — my FILs do not want to participate in the traditional Vietnamese Tea Ceremony. They say its because they do not want to participate in the “dowry” traditions of “buying” a bride.
At first, they mentioned it was a cost issue. We’re paying for the wedding 50/50 without our parents help, but since the wedding is in my hometown and his family is out of town, my parents offered to pay for the lunch following the tea ceremony, as well as arrange for the rental of the equipments. They just have to show up for the motions.
Then, it was because the cost of the jewelry is too unexpected for them and they are not financially well-off. I was perfectly fine with this — I don’t like jewelry to begin with and I especially do not like people picking out jewelry for me. But, my mom said sometimes people just borrow diamonds for the photo ops and then return them. I was okay with that too.
Now, FMIL is saying to FI that it’s because he is moving to my hometown so they shouldn’t have to participate in the motions of “receiving” a bride when they are “losing” a son. They keep returning to their desire not to have to “purchase” a bride even though I tell him that’s not really what the tea ceremony is.
We’ve had a pretty large argument over this as he wants me to see the FIL’s point of view. He’s been fairly supportive in the past and says he will continue talking to his parents but I don’t see why I have to give up a tradition just because they aren’t comfortable with it. I offered to have them come up with other traditional alternatives but they say they don’t have any.
I’m not sure if I should tell my parents yet — my mother is having her engagement ao dai (vintage!) cleaned for me as well as ordering the headpiece and outer garment from Vietnam.
I’d like to have this ceremony too – should I just have it even if his parents don’t want to participate? FMIL has told him he can just attend with his groomsmen, but I just feel sorry for him since my immediate family is 30 peeps already.
Thanks in advance 🙂