QR codes make new world order of wedding invitations

By Quynh Nguyen, Hai Hien   January 21, 2024 | 11:37 pm PT
Since wedding season began, 40-year-old Hanoian Thanh Danh cannot recall how many wedding invitations he’s received in the form of QR codes.

Whenever he receives such impersonal invitations, he never attends the events, but still sends congratulatory money as a gift.

Danh said he doesn’t feel comfortable receiving these QR codes, which are encrypted with bank account information. He feels like he’s obligated to send money, and more than anything else, he feels that the bride and the groom don’t respect their guests.

He recalls one wedding he attended at which guests were passing around a card with a QR code on it before the reception even started. He found it distasteful. "This is no different than going to a restaurant and splitting the bill afterward," Danh said.

A sample wedding invitation featuring a printed QR code and map code. Photo by T.H.V.

A sample wedding invitation featuring a printed QR code and map code. Photo by T.H.V.

However, not everyone find the codes as impersonal and robotic as Danh even though many do, with some going as far as to call them "insulting, disrespectful and dystopian."

Le Lan, 30 years old, from the capital’s Ha Dong District, Hanoi, finds wedding invitations with QR codes quite common, with two out of three invitations she received recently being of this type. Guests can use their banking app to scan the QR code and send the couple the amount of congratulatory money they want, all in less than a minute. After the wedding, the bride and groom can account for all of the transactions from their app.

"I’ve attended many weddings where QR codes are displayed right next to the congratulatory money box or on the banquet table. I find it quite convenient: you don’t have to ask the bride and the groom for their bank account, and there’s no need to prepare the envelopes, which can also easily get lost," Lan said.

Tuan Dzung from Ho Chi Minh City also finds these wedding invitations with QR codes a convenient method in this modern life. The 27-year-old man has been living far from home for a long time. Due to geographical distance, it’s difficult for him to come back every time his friends get married.

In the past, he had to ask for a favor from different people to hand the bride and the groom his congratulatory money in his stead, not wanting to ask the bride and groom for their bank account information. However, he hasn’t always managed to find someone, so he’s sometimes had to wait until the next time they can meet up with the couple to give them his gift.

When he gets married, Dzung plans to have a QR code printed on his wedding invitations as well to make it easy for his friends who live far away.

Like Dzung, many people nowadays are in favor including bank account information along with wedding invitations, and most providers in the industry offer this service. A social media community specializing in wedding invitation printing with 100,000 members averages more than 30 posts a day advertising customized printing services, most of which include QR code printing.

Mai Anh, owner of a Hanoi wedding-related service provider business on Nguyen Trai Street, Thanh Xuan District, said demand for QR code printing has increased recently. Most of her clients are young people from the capital city and neighboring provinces.

"In the past, couples were still hesitant for fear of being seen as greedy, but couples now are more open-minded. A QR code makes it easier for wedding guests and simplifies wedding organization," Mai Anh said.

Many young people opt to print bank account numbers on wedding invitations so their guests can celebrate the wedding in a convenient way. Photo: Hai Hien

Young couples increasingly print bank account numbers on wedding invitations for guest convenience. Photo by VnExpress/ Hai Hien

Psychologist Nguyen Thi Tam from Hanoi believes that this trend is happening because young people tend to follow whatever their friends are doing. This also suits modern society quite well since nearly 75% of Vietnamese adults have a bank account and regularly engage in bank transfers.

According to the State Bank of Vietnam, in the first seven months of 2023, transactions via QR code increased by 124.15% in quantity and 16.12% in value compared to the same period in 2022.

"In my opinion however, despite its advantages, QR codes on wedding invitations don’t suit Vietnamese customs and traditions," Tam said.

Cultural expert Nguyen Hung Vi, former lecturer at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Hanoi National University, said wedding money is meant to represent solidarity. The idea is that the community joins hands in helping a young couple build their new life by materialistic means.

"Both bank transfer and QR code are new ways of transferring money in the modern world. There is nothing wrong about them if they work for specific contexts and circumstances, especially for those who have geographical differences and are unable to attend the wedding in person," Vi said.

However, Vi does believe that printing QR codes on wedding invitations or backdrops is not exactly tasteful and might not be appropriate for Vietnam’s cultural landscape.

Taking Thanh Danh’s example, psychologist Nguyen Thi Tam believes that many people, as they receive wedding invitations printed with QR codes, think transferring money is a must – like a debt to be paid – hence feel uncomfortable about both the wedding, and even the bride and groom themselves.

Ngoc Minh, 23 years old, from Bac Ninh, originally planned to print bank account information her wedding invitation, but she was advised otherwise by the print shop, where staff members mentioned that the method was not traditional.

So, Minh decided to send two types of invitations: one with a QR code for her friends and colleagues, and another version without a QR code for her parents’ guests (to avoid negative gossip at the wedding either way).

To avoid putting themselves in a tight spot, Tam advises couples who are planning their wedding to put themselves in the guests’ shoes and evaluate the situation carefully, instead of making decisions entirely based on their personal preferences.

"Wedding money is inherently a sensitive matter, there is no need to make it into a discomforting thing that can potentially upset or hurt your guests’ feelings. If you’re inviting them, do so politely and gracefully," Tam said.

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