Where can I find a mind blowing, yet inexpensive elopement destination in Vietnam?
One of my favourite elopement destinations in Vietnam: the UNESCO listed My Son Sanctuary. It's a bit of a drive from Hoi An or Danang: around one and a half hours. Once the kingdom of the Champa people and later infamous for the battle scars suffered during the war - it is a very significant slice of Vietnamese history. It was nearly destroyed during a single week of bombing during the Vietnam war. It is a stunningly beautiful and haunting place (and a wedding photographers dream).
My Son Sanctuary is suitable for early morning ceremonies only (it gets quite busy with tourists after about 9.30 am and it gets hot). So it's best to arrive early and find a private location among the ruins to elope then return to Hoi An or Danang and celebrate over lunch.
So, If a dash of wanderlust is in your elopement dreams My Son Sanctuary could be perfect. If you would like to know more about My Son here's some info.
The best months to get married in the areas around Hoi An and Danang are March through September. The ideal time to arrive for an elopement at My Son would be around 8 am. Entry to the Sanctuary is approximately 10$USD per person. Because of its heritage listing, the authorities allow non-obtrusive wedding ceremonies. My Son is not a venue for marquees and arches. It is rustic, sublime, deeply spiritual and honestly, requires absolutely no decoration at all.
Kristy and Charles eloped at My Son a few years ago. When they contacted me they were in love with the photos they found online. The idea of them eloping with their two little boys was a dream come true.
Other couples have eloped at My Son during the dry season (March - September) and did not have quite the same experience as Charles and Kirsty. It's one of my favourite elopements in Vietnam and I love their story.
Charles and Kirsty had chosen early November for their big day. November is our monsoon season - and our typhoon season - little did I know! I did cover the risks with them. Being the adventure lovers they were, the unpredictable weather made it more exciting.
The first thing I recommended was an early morning ceremony. Firstly because in November, it would either be hot or it would be raining. Secondly, after 9.30 am, hordes of buses laden tourists wearing North Face outfits and hiking boots would descend on the ruins, and they’d have several hundred uninvited guests at their wedding!
Fast forward to November and the weather forecast did not look good. I contacted Charles and Kirsty and recommended they bring rubber boots: Wellington boots, or gumboots (as we call them in Australia) as heavy rain was predicted and there was a typhoon brewing out to sea. I suggested perhaps changing the venue.
Ever the adventurers, they were not concerned. They lived in a part of Australia where they rarely saw rain so if it rained, it would be fine. They wanted an adventure. Phew!
The day of their elopement bought rain from every direction, howling wind and localised flooding. We’d spoken many times about the weather and they were still keen to go. So we hopped in the van, Kirsty in full wedding splendour (looking stunning; no gumboots), Charles in his suit and the little boys looking so very cute in their matching outfits and bow ties. I was wearing gumboots. (I’m sensible, and they were happy for me to wear them).
We set off. Taking in the rising water and the fallen trees. The typhoon was making landfall about 500 km south of Hoi An though it had brought a lot of wind and rain to Hoi An. We were being buffeted around like we were on a theme park ride. Then the “oh no” moment. Charles realised he had forgotten the wedding rings. (I guess that’s one benefit of having a best man). So we turned around and went back and got them and started out again. My Son is not on the coast and we hoped being a little inland would make the rain, less severe. Nope. It was worse! The wind was ferocious, as was the blinding rain.
Fortunately one of the temple ruins has a roof on it. So we made the long walk in, drawing curious glances from the staff. It’s not every day they see people in full formal attire and a bride in all her glory, complete with veil. Our umbrellas were merely decorative. They were of little use.
We made a run for the ruin with the covered roof to decide our plan of attack. It was warm and dry with no one around. After we got settled and the boys happy, we decided to have the ceremony inside. Charles and Kirsty would then run outside with the photographer when the rain was teeming, instead of torrential, for photos.
The ceremony was beautiful, with many tears. Though it was also very funny. We laughed a lot at how the day had started and the odds of this happening on their wedding day. The tourists started arriving and everyone wanted a photo with the couple and their children. They were famous.
Soaked to the bone, Kirsty turned to me and said: “no one tells you your wedding gown will be see-through if it gets wet.”
The floodwater around the ruins was rising. When it was time to go and we barely made it over the bridge before it went under. The tourists hollered and cheered and congratulated Kirsty and Charles as we made our way back to the entrance. It was a long walk. We were soaked to the bone. We were laughing. We looked very curious.
When it was time to say goodbye, we promised to catch up for coffee before they left Hoi An. Later that night, the town of Hoi An was in flood and I couldn’t reach their hotel. A day later, Charles and Kirsty decided to get the boys to higher ground and a man in a little Vietnamese fishing boat paddled along the road in the waist-deep water and got them to high ground where they could safely make their way to a dryer place.
Kirsty and Charles words will never leave me: “We wanted an adventure and we sure got one”. It was one of the happiest experiences of my life. I’m sure it’s one they will talk about for the rest of their lives.
Your wedding, your way.
Hi. I'm Leanne, Australian born and now based in Hoi An, Vietnam. A former corporate lawyer bereft of a sense of humour, I found it again while travelling through Vietnam. I am now lucky enough to spend my time wordsmithing wedding ceremonies and officiating weddings for couples who've travelled from all over the world to celebrate their marriage in Vietnam.
You can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a line on FB: @weddingcelebrantvietnam or Insta: @celebrant_weddings_vietnam
Photography: Nam Quan, Mott Weddings Vietnam