Nung young people at the age of 15 or 16 often invite a date to go with them to a festival or work in the terraced fields. They express their feelings through singing and dancing.
Nung parents allow their children to choose their partner. But when it comes to marriage the couple still need approval from their parents.
Luong Van Thiet, a researcher of Nung culture at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, said, “When a couple decides to get married, each takes an item belonging to the other as security. The boy keeps a hat or a bracelet belonging to the girl and the girl takes one of the boy’s handkerchiefs."
"The groom’s family will learn more about the bride and her family. The groom’s family cares most about the bride’s reproductive health. If the bride’s family has many children, she is more likely to be prolific,” he added.
After learning about each other’s family, they prepare a wedding ceremony. The Nung are matriarchal and the groom’s family has to meet the bride’s demands concerning the engagement, betrothal, and wedding.
At a betrothal ceremony the two families discuss the wedding gifts, the dowry, the wedding day, and the time the bride will be brought to the groom’s home.
Loc Cong Hung, a Nung man in Lang Son, said, “The ceremony to meet the bride must involve a roasted pig and the ceremony to bring the bride home must include a boiled chicken and steamed glutinous rice. The families select two prestigious men to lead the delegations that will escort the bride to the groom’s home.”
The groom’s delegation is headed by a couple who have led a virtuous life. Then comes the groom, his friends, two young men carrying a roasted pig, a man carrying a basket of steamed glutinous rice, and a girl carrying 8 roosters, a boiled chicken, a pink ribbon, and a piece of cloth.
The delegation stops in front of the bride’s house and sing a Sli song to inform the bride’s family of their arrival. A representative of the bride’s family comes to check the offering before inviting the groom’s delegation in.
The bride’s family receives the offering and begins a ritual to inform their ancestors of the wedding. A shaman writes the names of the bride and groom on an amulet, ties it with the pink ribbon, and prays to the ancestors to bless the young couple.
A Nung bride’s parents must prepare all the comforts of home for the new couple’s house: wardrobe, bed, blanket, mosquito net, and kitchen wares.
Hoang Trieu, a Nung man in Chi Lang commune, Lang Son province, said, “Our custom is that the bride’s parents prepare clothes, personal belongings, and other dowry for their daughter. The items are taken to the groom’s home earlier. At the groom’s house, the bride attends a ritual for her admission to the groom’s family.”
Before entering the groom’s house, a symbolic ritual is performed of washing the bride’s feet. The groom walks in first because he is the master of the house.
The groom’s family invites a virtuous woman to prepare a bed for the couple to ensure they will have a happy life with many children.