By Phuong Mai
HCM City (VNS)-- Moving love stories and dream weddings happen from time to time, and we also get to hear of them from time to time.
One hundred and twenty couples in HCM City tie the knot at 12.12 noon yesterday to mark the repetitive numbers in the date, 12/12/ 2012. The event which involved mostly poor couples, has been recognised by the Viet Nam Guiness Records as the "biggest-ever mass wedding in the country". — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
But 12/12/12 was a special day for love stories and dream weddings in HCM City.
There were 120 of them to be heard and enjoyed at the same time in a record setting event. Actually there was at least one more, but let's stick with these numbers for now.
Nguyen Cam Tu and Phan Thi Quy were among the couples who had a poignant story to tell.
He is 32 and she is 37 and neither of them could say their wedding vows if they had to. With both of them unable to hear and speak, they let their eyes, and their smiles, do the talking.
Tu was born deaf and was never able to pick up speech, while his wife was rendered deaf and speechless after a disease at the age of 12.
The met each other at regular meetings of a community of hearing and speech-impaired people in HCM City, and fell in love. Four years later, they decided to get married but their families stood in the way, holding up their disabilities as well as the age difference as incompatible factors.
Tu was adamant that he wanted to be with Quy, who he said was a virtuous and diligent woman, for his whole life. Their opportunity to unite in matrimony came with the 12/12/12 group wedding organised by the HCM City Youth Workers Support Centre.
"The group wedding made our wish come true," Tu said.
The newly-wed couple now live together in a flat at the Nguyen Thien Thuat Apartment Building in District 3, and work together at a garment company in the Ben Luc Industrial Park in Long An Province.
They regularly participate in activities to help disabled people like themselves.
The group wedding brought together 120 disadvantaged couples working at schools, State-owned companies, industrial parks, and exporting processing zones in the city.
The Viet Nam Book of Records has given a certificate and trophy to the organiser for holding the largest ever group wedding in Viet Nam. The older record was 80, set in 2010.
This year's event began at 8 am with a worship ceremony at President Ho Chi Minh's statue in front of the People's Committee office in District 1.
The party began at 12 p.m. at the Grand Palace in Tan Phu District, in keeping with the 12/12/12 theme.
To take part in the event, each couple had to pay a fee of VND1 million (US$50), but they received much more in return.
They were provided wedding dresses, suits and ao dai (Traditional Vietnamese dress), wedding cars, flowers, photography services and a wedding feast. Each couple also received an ATM card worth VND2 million ($100) and a two-day honeymoon stay in Can Gio District.
The organisers also gifted 10 pairs of diamond rings worth VND8 million ($400) each to 10 couples facing the greatest difficulties.
Huynh Ngo Tinh, director of the centre, said the wedding aimed to help young workers find happiness, promote savings and a healthy lifestyle.
Another somewhat unusual story at the group wedding was that of 43-year-old Ngo Thanh Phuong and his 44-year-old bride, Truong Thi Hieu. They had been in love for several years, but poverty had prevented them from getting married, until 12/12/12 came along.
With a limit of 120 set for the group wedding, it is not surprising that there were many couples disappointed they could not be part of it.
Among them were Mai Kim Son, a 93-year-old resident of the city, and the love of his life, 61-year-old Ly Thi Thu.
They came to formalise their union to the center, but they were late.
Son said he and Thu were neighbours.
"I am old and feel alone. She and I have been in love for a long time, so we decided to get married."
Despite not getting married this year, Son and his partner were invited to the wedding rehearsal at the Grand Palace on December 11.
Talking about his hopes at the rehearsal, Son said he wanted to send a message to the younger generation: "Love lasts forever. So let's love and come together under any circumstances." -- VNS