|Happy day: The HCM City Employee Assistance Centre organised a Mass Wedding for 100 Disadvantaged Couples at the Melisa Wedding and Convention Centre in the city's Tan Phu District yesterday. — VNS Photo Gia Loc
by Gia Loc
HCM CITY (VNS) — Tran Hai Quang and Le Thi Bich Lieu's dream wedding ceremony and party finally came true as the couple were part of the Mass Wedding of 100 Disadvantaged Couples sponsored by the HCM City Employee Assistance Centre.
In Viet Nam, the wedding ceremony and party have more significance than a marriage certificate. They are often organised in restaurants with the attendance of hundreds of guests — the couple's relatives and friends.
For low-income families, the party is often prohibitively expensive.
Quang and Lieu had been married for five years prior the event but they could never afford a wedding party.
Quang, who is from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, moved to HCM City to works as casual labourer with a stable income.
Lieu of the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho was laid off because her company faced difficulties. Now she has no job.
The couple, who rent a 9-sq.m room, live with their five-year-old daughter in the city's Thu Duc District.
When they heard about the mass wedding, they registered and luckily were chosen to participate.
Another couple, Trieu Hai Duy and Ly Hoang Khanh Ly of the northern mountainous province of Bac Kan, also thought they would never be able to afford a party.
They work at a food processing company in Vinh Loc Industrial Park in the city's outlying district of Binh Tan.
With an income of VND4-5 million (US$170-220) each, they find it hard to make ends meet and to help their parents back in their hometown.
"We have been in love for two years. Whenever we discussed our wedding ceremony, we were worried about money for the wedding ceremony and party," Duy said.
When their company's trade union said the HCM City Employee Assistance Centre would hold a mass wedding for 100 couples, especially disadvantaged workers, they registered immediately.
"Today, we are happy," Duy said with a smile.
Duong Ngoc Tuan, the centre's head, said the city wanted to help couples, especially the disadvantaged, feel better about their lives.
In 2000, the mass wedding was organised for the first time for 25 young couples to mark the 25th anniversary of Viet Nam's reunification.
The second one was held in 2007 for seven worker couples. Since then, the wedding has been organised annually, with a total of 422 couples married as of this year.
Most of the couples are low-income workers, people who have been laid off, disadvantaged people belonging to unions and associations, and people with disabilities.
Before the official wedding ceremony, they walked in a procession on the main streets in District 1.
They offered incense and laid wreaths at the statue of President Ho Chi Minh in front of the City People's Committee building.
Finally, they moved to the Melisa Wedding and Convention Centre in Tan Phu District for the official wedding ceremony, accompanied by their families and friends.
They were presented wedding rings and other gifts, and were offered soft skills training in building a happy family. Free counselling about reproductive health and nutrition was also provided to the couple.
This year, a "dream room" was presented to the couple Quang and Lieu, who will live in the room with all necessary amenities. The HCM City Employee Assistance Centre has asked the house owner to allow the couple to live in the room rent-free for one year. —VNS