Couple have grand wedding, 50 years after first humble one

By Duc Hung   February 28, 2024 | 03:15 am PT
On Feb. 25, 1974, Nguyen Ngoc Linh and Phan Thi Lan tied the knot. The wedding ceremony was as humble as it could be: they could only afford to serve rice, cassava and vegetables to guests.

Fast forward to their golden wedding anniversary (50th), and Linh and Lan, now 75 and 70, celebrated with another ceremony surrounded by friends and family.

This time the menu was expansive and had many delicious dishes. "We have had eight children together and more than 20 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but my feelings have never faded away," Linh says.

"Holding my wife’s hand, giving her a kiss on the cheek – it still feels exactly the same as when we were young."

Linh and Lan take photos with their family at their golden wedding anniversary. Photo courtesy of Linh and Lan

Linh and Lan take photos with their family at their golden wedding anniversary. Photo courtesy of Linh and Lan

In 1965 they had accompanied their families to the central province of Nghe An where they lived 20 meters from each other.

The young Linh fell for his beautiful and kind neighbor, and was determined to ask Lan to become his wife. Lan said yes and they became husband and wife two years later.

Linh was born into a poor family of eight children. After their humble wedding the couple started building a new life together with the help of neighbors and relatives: Some lent a hand with the construction of their home, others provided assistance with farming supplies.

Over the years they had five sons and three daughters, each born two years apart. The eldest son is now 50. Their children have pursued careers in various fields ranging from teaching to business.

In the middle of last year one of their daughters, who lives in HCMC, took them on a trip around the Mekong Delta. "This feels like going on a honeymoon," Linh said to his wife. They had never had one.

"Our homes were so close to each other that we didn’t even get to ride in a wedding car," Lan recalls.

Linh recently had the idea of having another wedding ceremony, which received instant support from their children.

Returning to their hometown, the couple began planning for the ceremony. They wanted to celebrate it on the 50th anniversary of their original wedding. They firmly refused their children’s offer of footing the bill.

Linh says he and his wife spent around VND40 million in all on food, tents, sound and lighting systems, and a wedding car.

The guests were family members and very close friends. "Don’t come with a money envelope for I will return them back to you," Linh had firmly told the guests when inviting them.

Linh did ask his children to help make food for 30 tables. He bought a 35-kilogram calf, 40-kilogram wild boar and 40 chickens, and roasted all of them over coals.

After they were cooked, the meats were cut evenly and placed on large trays lined with banana leaves along with a few bowls of dipping sauce.

"These are dishes that my family often cooks, so I wanted to include them in my wedding," he explains.

The guests thoroughly enjoyed the feast and showered them with compliments, which brought immense joy to the family.

Fifty years ago the couple’s houses were 20 meters apart, and so their wedding procession was a short walk. But for this special occasion, Linh rented a car to pick up Lan from her mother’s house five kilometers away.

With his parents and father-in-law no longer alive, he took it upon himself to perform the traditional ceremony. He asked for his wife’s hand from his 90-year-old mother-in-law.

Linh wore a white suit for the ceremony and Lan donned a dark blue ao dai. The couple made their way to the main stage, hand in hand, amid applause and loud cheers from their wedding guests.

Linh and Lan take photos with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of Linh and Lan

Linh and Lan take photos with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on their "wedding day." Photo courtesy of Linh and Lan

Lan was happy to hear people say she and her husband looked much younger than their age.

She changed her ao dai three times, and all four of them were lavishly complimented by the guests for their beauty.

Instead of envelopes with money inside, the guests brought bouquets, and used them to take photos with the couple.

At the party everyone sang and danced well into the night as the occasion overflowed with joy. After it ended the entire family pitched in to clean and tidy up before calling it a day.

"We are so happy because we finally fulfilled our wishes in the presence of all of our family members, regardless of how far away they live from us," Linh says proudly.

"If I am still well and in good health 10 years from now, I will marry my wife again. Perhaps we can call it a ‘diamond wedding’."

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