Vâng, I do

Some people have a taste for unique exotic things. Some stop at collecting baseball caps from over the globe. Some hunt down traditional clothing. All the while, some find the stories of a foreign partner exciting and her original beauty un-rivaled. Yet, a cross-cultured marriage is tempting and also poses some serious challenge. Especially when it has to first deal with the eyes of a society that still suspects outsiders.

In a country where most people still make around $100 a month, there is the myth that foreigners are rich and can provide unlimited resources. Certainly not true, but it is this myth that is creating headache for many Vietnamese officials. In poverty-stricken areas, especially in the Mekong river delta, women flood to illegal matching-making centers waiting for their turn to score a Taiwanese or Korean husband. The foreigner provides a lump sum to the woman’s family, usually around $500, which is not much but quite a fortune for those that truly need it. Attempts to crack down on the illegal service have been met with clever adaptations. Many women face sub-standard living condition in their new home and some are severely abused.

Miss Vietnam Dieu Hoa and her Indian spouse make a great example of happy inter-racial marriage case in Vietnam

That in turn creates suspicion among the locals about the true intention of a foreigner wanting to wed a Vietnamese woman as well. The sometimes-outright disdain amounts to no less than racism. People are suspicious of both partners about their devotion to each other, and government vultures have all reasons to dive in for the feast, turning a rather-supposedly-happy event into one big lengthy court battle.

There are certainly bases for the objection of the locals. One must do well to remember that for most cases, the difference of the very unique Vietnamese culture and that of a foreign land can be monumental. One extremely important aspect to consider is that the Vietnamese society is very close-knit and one has to very much respect the opinion of the community. It is not an individuality society. Some describe the Vietnamese community as a gigantic potato as compared to a bag of potatoes that is the western society. The myth does not help either as the average person just simply counts on it for his judgment. Mr. Average Nguyen may well be the father of the bride herself, and in his view, there is no shame as humiliating as being posed as someone who sells his daughter for foreign cash. So the already uphill battle may sometimes prove unwinnable.

There is no argument for the “individual choice”. If a foreigner proposes that his Vietnamese partner completely disregards her big family, it already equals to her giving up on her identity. As once-traditionally-rigid Vietnam opens up more and more to the world, some few will happily ditch the group identity, but still it is advisable that one should put an effort into persuading the family that his intention is true and that he loves their daughter with all his heart. The people can be tough, but they are warm friendly folks in nature that find all that western romance desirable too.

For the persistent who loves truly madly deeply, here is the court battle that you will have to go through:

1- Your partner will first have to go to the local Department of Justice office to obtain marital paperwork concerning marriage with a foreign partner. This includes mentality check for both at a local hospital. (!)

2 - She will then have to ask for confirmation of her single status and her permanent address from the ward jurisdiction office, per the instruction. This is going to take around one week.

3 - You will have to ask for certification of your single status as well. Also needed is the proof of income and health check-up confirmation that certifies you have adequate health for marriage. Go figure!

4 - You know the drill. Next comes the interview at the Department of Justice local office, which probes into your true intention (or else – they love this!). Questions are the all-too-common “how you met”, “how you speak to each other”, “what you each like to do”… among the typical many others.

5 - Both of you will get to wait for 6 months for result. So if you two already live together in Vietnam, that may just be a long waiting period, but if you have to travel back to your own country, you will have to come back and get the certification yourself.

6 - Shed down some substantial amount for the wedding in Vietnam! Congratulations, you two are now officially legally husband and wife!

• Tip: just take her to where-ever you come from if the process is any faster.


Watch Vietnam Online video on a traditional wedding procession: