For the first wedding, the groom has to stay at the bride’s house. He should work hard to earn enough money to hold a second sumptuous wedding. Only then can he bring her wife back to his own house.
This custom is still maintained in some western districts of Thanh Hoa Province such as Quan Son, Muong Lat, Quan Hoa.
During the first wedding, the bride's and the groom’s families just chew betel nut, smoke cigars and talk.
Pham Ba Ngoang, the 70-year old head of Phai Village, said, “Life is much the same here as it has always been. Conditions are hard, so couples often have to wait dozens of years until their 'second marriage'. But no matter how hard life is, the second marriage is a must. The second wedding is a show of the man's ability to earn a living and support his family. Once the bride's family can see that their son in law is able, they will allow her to leave with him."
The time period between the first and the second wedding can last from several months to many years. In order for the groom to arrange the second marriage he must buy a number of expensive presents for the bride and her family, including an elaborate dress and jewelry. He must also provide a feast and wine for the ceremony. Once this is done, the families come together to discuss the time the bride will depart.
The most important part of the departure ceremony is the washing of the brides feet by the mother in law. This is sort of a renewal ceremony, symbolising removal of past impurities.
Old customs vs. new economic realities
Despite the comments of the head of the village, things are slowly changing. As the socio-economic factors in the region improve, the weddings are being held closer together.
Luong Thi Hong Nhung, a Thai woman said, “My parents had their two weddings 10 years apart, but my husband and I took just one month."
Some remote communes, such as Hien Kiet, Hien Son and Trung Thanh, in Quan Hoa District, have maintained this old tradition more than more modernised areas.