Our Traditional Lao Engagement

Ever since we started dating, we always knew we would do everything traditionally. Not just to please our families, but so we can learn about our culture and be able to pass it onto the next generation. Traditionally, there really isn’t an engagement ceremony, but we decided to split up the things done at the Lao wedding ceremony to save time. Since I am also part Chinese, we will have to do a wedding ceremony for that as well.

Usually the dowry, gold, and rings are exchanged at the wedding ceremony, but we modernized some of the rules and did this at the engagement ceremony. For example, there is no formal proposal in Laos, but Donald did propose.

He asked my parents for permission to propose first and then have an engagement ceremony. Traditional “sin” (the silk skirt) is required for the women along with a “pah bieng” (the sash – a silk one matching the skirt for women and a patterned one for men). The men just need to wear a nice button up shirt with slacks. For the wedding, the groom will have to wear genie pants and the bride will have a dressier traditional outfit.

Donald proposed at the Park of Roses where we had our first official date as a couple. He took me to this metal tower in the middle of the park where we had taken a photo almost 6 years ago. It was really sweet that he remembered since I was honestly when he brought me here. I didn’t remember any of it until we walked around the park and reminisced. I was in tears (happy tears), so I didn’t want a photo taken, but here’s a flashback… 09/07/09 to 04/29/15.

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Below are images from our engagement ceremony. Both our parents picked elders as witnesses for the engagement. Usually it’s family and close friends of the family. There is also an ex-monk who is there to serve as the officiant. He will explain the traditions and guide us through the steps as well as pray for us at the end.

The ceremony started with both sides talking to each other and coming to an agreement on the dowry and gold amount. The groom’s parents then hand over a bowl made out of silver to the bride’s parents. It’s covered as a gift and is opened by the bride’s parents. Inside would be the engagement ring, 24k gold jewelry, and the cash dowry. The groom then puts all the jewelry on the bride. Once this is over, both sides take shots of liquor with each other. I guess you could say it’s almost like a unity, but instead of sand it’s liquor? I believe this part is optional depending on whether the families drink or not… but in our case it was a must. We passed out shots to everyone who was there and also gave them a dollar as a token to thank them for their time. Some placed the money back into the silver bowl as a gift for us.

Aaand that was pretty much it! We took our millions of photos and then celebrated with our friends. Now begins the wedding planning! #BringItOn

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2 thoughts on “Our Traditional Lao Engagement

  1. Hello, my name is Lynn and I came across your page. You see, my parents are also Lao, and are very traditional. My boyfriend recently proposed to me, but not the way you and your fiance (or are you married now?) did and now we are unsure how to navigate through the traditions that my parents want us to. I hope you see this comment and are able to reply to me soon.


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