Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Wedding: Step #1

(PICTURE: Huyen's childhood home)

Last weekend Huyen and I took Step #1 in planning our wedding -- choosing the location.

Huyen has told me for a long time that she has always wanted to get married in her childhood home. Her sister Huong got married in this home and the house has very special meaning for Huyen. The one problem with the house is that it is in total disarray since nobody has lived there in almost ten years. Huyen's parents' plan is to eventually build a new house on the land and spend their retirement there.

When we discussed the wedding with her parents they seemed a little bit skeptical about having the wedding at the old house. For one, having it at the house means that all of her family and neighbors need to participate in the wedding festivities whether it be cooking, cleaning or using their houses for toilets (Huyen's old house has no toilet). Like in any small town in the world, there is a lot of politics involved with something like this. Do you ask your Aunt to cook the chicken or do you ask your cousin? Do you use the neighbor on the lefts toilet or will this offend the neighbor on the right? The prospect of juggling all their relatives and neighbors definitely had Huyen's parents a little stressed. Her mother suggested to us to check out a nearby restaurant that often serves as a catering hall for weddings. Huyen and I agreed to have an open mind and went to look at the restaurant. Well, it took us two seconds to decide upon seeing the restaurant which was located about fifty feet off the busiest highway in Vietnam -- we were sticking with the old house.

In the afternoon we went to the house with Huyen's father, sister and brother-in-law. We tried to imagine how we could fit everyone in the limited space (Vietnamese weddings often have up to 400 guests...just for one of the wedding party). The chief issue though quickly became whether or not the roof of Huyen's old house would cave in during the party. Huyen's father showed us that it was riddled with termites and he felt that if a lot of people were walking around it could be disastrous. I mean, I haven't exactly been planning my wedding in my head since I was a little boy but I'm pretty sure having the roof cave in at my wedding would definitely be considered a wedding nightmare. Am I wrong?

(PICTURE: The family in front of the house during Tet 2009.)

I told Huyen's father that we should test the roof and I then launched a couple of bricks up top. The roof didn't flinch at all. Despite my tried-and-true method of testing a structure's sturdiness, Huyen's father wasn't convinced. Just when I thought this was a ploy to make us have the wedding at a highway rest stop, he announced that he would simply knock down the old house. As he told us this I felt a huge wave of guilt come over me. I told Huyen to tell her father that that wasn't necessary and we could have the wedding somewhere else. However, Huyen insisted it wasn't a big deal since they would have to knock down the house eventually to build the retirement home. I asked when they were planning to build that home and Huyen said in about twenty years. My huge wave of guilt suddenly became a tsunami.

Soooooo, the plan is to have the wedding at Huyen's old house...sans the actual house. We will have to built a tiny little house on the location which is important for Buddhist worship. Now we just have to figure out which neighbor's toilet we're gonna use and which relative is gonna cook the chicken.