With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in Vietnam right before their wedding, Nguyen Khac Ly and his wife Ly Kim Hue decided to hold the ceremony with their family attending virtually.
In Da Nang, the husband’s parents prepared a simple set of offerings for their ancestor altar while from Hanoi, the groom and bride saw the service live-streamed via a chat app.
Third time’s a charm
The couple are both popular hairdressers in Hanoi.
Ly, 29, comes from Da Nang and Hue is a Tay ethnic member from Dinh Lap District of the northern mountainous province of Lang Son.
Nguyen Thi Nga, Ly’s mother, said the wedding was expected to take place on May 22 in Da Nang.
Despite being busy with the salon in Hanoi, the couple tried to arrange their important event from afar.
Some 600 invitation cards had been printed and nearly 1,000 meal sets had been ordered.
A pavilion had been prepared, waiting to be set up in front of the groom’s house to shelter the tentative party.
At the last minute, the wedding reception was canceled, as crowded events in both Da Nang and Hanoi had been shut down to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
As soon as they decided to cancel the party, Ly called the catering service provider to postpone the order and returned flight tickets to Da Nang for Hue’s family.
At 10:30 am on May 22, the couple, hands laced, sat in front of a smartphone to see Ly’s parents pray at the altar.
Nga said they planned to set up the wedding twice in 2020 yet scrapped it both times due to COVID-19.
As the pandemic showed no sign of allowing the ceremony they planned to take place, they decided to do it online.
|Instead of a wedding banquet, Nguyen Thi Nga prepares a meal for her family to enjoy and mark her son’s special event. Photo: Thai Ba Dung / Tuoi Tre|
Party prepared by a market pass
One day before the event, Ly called Nga saying that the family should have a small meal, served as offerings to ancestors then as a marking of their wedding.
“My husband and I were reluctant, yet my daughter-in-law is expecting the first child," said Nga.
"My son told me they had called each other as wife and husband for a long time and begged me to ask for the blessings from ancestors."
On May 22, Nga woke up earlier than normal, not forgetting to bring along a day-pass allowing her to enter a local market in days of the pandemic.
At the same time, in Lang Son, Hue’s family was also preparing a small gathering to receive Ly as their new member.
“We were both happy and sad at the same time, knowing that our wedding was one of a kind," said Ly.
"Hugging each other and crying, all we wished was the pandemic would be over soon."
|The couple took a wedding picture before the pandemic hit again in early May 2021. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Khac Ly|
Nga recollected the emotional moment when the offerings were lowered, via the smartphone, she told Ly and Hue that they were husband and wife and that Hue was her daughter-in-law.
“It should have been said on the stage in front of our family, relatives, and friends,” said Nga.
After the ceremony, only four people enjoyed the party, Nga, her husband, Nguyen Khac Nhu – Ly’s brother – and a niece.
Nguyen Hieu – Ly’s father – said he passed the word to their next of kin yet no one came as they wanted to follow the protocol against COVID-19.
“We will definitely host a party after all the turbulence is over,” said Ly.