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Happily ever after in Vietnam: 100 years of wedding fashion

Semi-feudal, colonial period (Before 1945)

In middle-class families, the groom would wear a traditional turban and a transparent gray ao dai (ao the), while the bride would don a brocade one. For low-income couples: a brown blouse naturally dyed and black midi skirt.

First Indochina War (1945-1954)

Many men got married in their soldier uniform and women a long-sleeved, button-down silk shirt with silk pants. Around this period, the bride started to have a wedding bouquet, for example, sword lilies.

Second Indochina War (1954-1975)

‘I heard there was a famous slogan for the weddings in this period: ‘Have fun with the wedding, but don’t forget your mission,'” Quynh Anh said.

The subsidy period (1975-1986)

As the country suffered an economic crisis, vacuum flasks, wash-basins or food stamps were ideal as wedding gifts. The brides started to put on white Western gowns and grooms began to invest in their suits and ties.

The Doi moi reform (1986-2000)

Free market and disco era brought retro ruffled gowns and funky makeup to brides like Quynh Anh’s mother. “I find it the most impressive of all these periods,” Quynh Anh said.

The 2000s

“We found this period’s weddings were defined by an iconic blue canvas with kissing pigeons,” she said. Until today, you could still find this typical design in weddings held at home across Vietnam.


“The new generations, many of whom graduated from overseas, started to embrace a new way of thinking and a new style for their wedding,” she said. White gowns and black tuxes were trendy, and still are.


Earlier this year, Vietnam saw a trend of stylized ao dai, yet it’s is difficult to see the traditional tunic as the official wedding gowns. Quynh Anh said it can be just a compatibility thing: ao dai may not go well with receptions and parties in restaurants with Western-style décor.


Quynh Trang

Photos courtesy of Quynh Anh Nguyen

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