The groom’s family chooses an suspicious day to organize a “high-bun” ceremony for the bride. They send two women who have happy families and a knowledge of traditional customs to the bride’s home to tie up her hair while talking to her about good and bad things before she goes to her husband’s family.

Tong Thi Song, who is over 80 years old, says she has organized “high-bun” ceremonies for many girls. She knows by heart the prayers and advice for the bride.

“Today is a good day for the groom’s family to take you as their daughter-in-law. They give you a buffalo-horn comb to make a bun. Now you have a husband. If you go out, don’t flirt with other men. The wife and husband have to listen to, be faithful to and love each other until old age,” said Song.

The groom’s family gives the bride two wigs made of real hair collected from the combs of the family members. In addition to the wigs, she receives a brooch, silver bracelets, silver earrings, some brocade fabric, a brocade belt, and a mirror.

Tong Van Hia, a shaman in Hua La commune, Son La province, said, “A couple will inform their parents when they want to get married, and the families will organize a proposal ceremony, a wedding ceremony and a high-bun ceremony.”

On the altar of the bride’s family, the groom’s family offers 2 chickens, 2 servings of steamed rice, 2 bottles of wine, and 2 areca nuts and leaves. The offerings should always be in pairs, which means the couple will live happily forever. After the ceremony, the family members eat the offerings and congratulate the couple.

“The groom’s family chooses a good day to inform the bride’s ancestors of the high-bun ceremony. The young man and woman, having become husband and wife, will stay in one house, eat from the same tray, and sleep on one bed. They are now like a pair of chopsticks or a pair of birds, and will live together until they both have white hair and no teeth. They will never criticize each other even when one becomes old, ugly, or sick. They will live with each other until death,” said shaman Hia.

Black Thai women still honour the high-bun custom, but in special cases such as a job requirement, a married woman will wear a low bun provided her husband agrees or has died.