Hanoi sees mad rush down wedding aisle as Covid restrictions ease

By Minh Trang   October 23, 2021 | 06:00 pm PT
After waiting for months due to lockdowns and worrying about Covid-19, Hanoi couples are rushing to tie the knot as restrictions ease.

At midnight Phan Huyen received a phone call from a woman who wanted to organize a wedding two days later.

Having worked as a wedding planner for nearly 10 years with a company on Hoang Cau Street, Huyen is no stranger to urgent phone calls from clients.

But she has never received more than 20 calls in a day until now.

She had to refuse the woman because her schedule was full, and the customer had not prepared anything.

She said: "She had to postpone the wedding to December. Not only our company, but all others are overloaded".

On July 18, the Hanoi People's Committee urged people not to hold weddings as Covid resurfaced. On July 24 the city imposed Directive 16, stopping all non-essential services. Two months later, on Sept. 21, the lockdown was eased and many activities and services were allowed again.

Many couples choose to get married in Oct. 2021. Photo courtesy of Thuyen Giay Wedding & Event Planner

Many couples choose to get married in October, 2021. Photo courtesy of Thuyen Giay Wedding & Event Planner

In October, as more and more couples rush to get married, people in the wedding industry say they are witnessing a "storm".

Weddings and engagement ceremonies have been mostly scheduled on Oct. 15 and 24, the two most auspicious days of the year in the lunar calendar. On October 15 Huyen was in charge of five weddings and had to work from 5 a.m. to midnight.

Duong Bich Hang, owner of a wedding planning company on Hanoi’s Hao Nam Street, had more than 20 marriages in October.

On Oct. 24, she will have nearly 30. "It feels like the whole of Hanoi is getting married on Oct. 15 and 24," she said happily.

It is not really as if the number of people getting married is more than in previous years; it is just that the pandemic has narrowed the number of auspicious days.

Many couples had to postpone their weddings due to the lockdowns, and are scrambling to get married as soon as possible lest another outbreak begins. Some have been waiting to gauge the pandemic situation and so only decide to organize weddings at very short notice.

"The problem is that wedding services are not like selling clothes," Hang said, explaining, "It consists of countless stages, and each company is different".

A wedding takes four days to prepare for on average, and could take 10 if the bride and groom are choosy.

Most weddings put pressure on all involved, including brides, grooms, their families, and organizers.

Tran Lan Huong, 29, of Cau Giay District was planning to marry on Oct. 15 before deciding to cancel it when Hanoi was in lockdown in July.

In early October, seeing that the pandemic situation was better, she contacted her wedding planner again and chose to get married on Oct. 15.

"Fortunately, they still prioritized me," she said.

The wedding went smoothly, but Huong was upset because she could not stitch an ao dai and had to wear an old dress instead.

The huge demand for professionals meant she had to do her own makeup and her brother had to take photos.

"I will definitely regret (not having nice photos) in future," she said.

An employee of a wedding planning company decorates a backdrop for a wedding in Hanoi, Oct. 2021. Photo courtesy of Song Anh Wedding & Events

An employee of a wedding planning company decorates a backdrop for a wedding in Hanoi, October, 2021. Photo courtesy of Song Anh Wedding & Events

Many are also in a hurry to marry due to pressure from their family.

On Oct.18, Nguyen Huyen My’s parents told her to get married on an auspicious day this month though she was not ready.

"I cried for two days because I could not lose weight in such a short period of time," the woman living in Dong Da District said. Her goal had been to lose 10 kg to wear a pretty wedding dress.

Huyen said: "Brides and grooms, especially brides, normally think since they will only get married once everything should be perfect. But parents prioritize auspicious days, causing conflicts".

For the last two weeks Hang and her staff have worked from 3 a.m. to evening every day, sometimes staying up all night to iron clothes, wash dishes, prepare flowers, and design backdrops, arrange tables and chairs.

Hang also has to seek forgiveness from clients if her staff go to their houses for decoration earlier or later than scheduled.

Though these businesses and other service providers’ revenues were hit by the pandemic, they try to keep the same prices and ensure quality, often by limiting the number of customers they take on.

Brides and grooms’ families and service providers are forced to adapt to pandemic needs.

For instance, many organize an engagement ceremony and welcome the bride to the husband’s home just once, instead of having two different ceremonies.

Parties are also smaller and more intimate.

For a wedding ceremony on Oct. 19, Le Huong Giang, 28, of Ba Dinh District reduced the number of guests by 90 percent from her original plan. She spent money improving the food and drinks, flowers and makeup. The party had performances by the bride and groom and their friends.

Huyen said: "No ‘diplomatic’ guests, everyone was comfortable and the wedding was more meaningful. This will probably be the trend of future weddings".

To reduce the pressure, consultants advise couples to decide on the wedding as soon as possible to get more time to prepare. They are also recommended to specify the budget and standards to quickly select suppliers, and hire professional wedding organizers if they do not have time for preparations.

Many people are also opting not to get caught in the "storm".

After five years of a long-distance relationship while she was studying abroad, Nguyen Van Anh, 30, thought that she would get married soon after returning to Vietnam, but has instead decided to postpone the plan indefinitely.

Her house and her boyfriend’s are in Covid hotspots Van Mieu and Van Chuong wards.

Anh is not sure when she will get married, but for her, the top priority is everyone's safety and comfort.

"An auspicious day is a day without the pandemic," she said.

"Moreover, our love is what determines everything."

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