A Cambodian Wedding Story

Saturday, Andrew and I went to our first Cambodian wedding ceremony. We had received the invitation a few weeks ago, and it stated the ceremony time as 11 a.m. However, after talking to several people, we discovered that Cambodian weddings don't actually start then; that's the time for the reception. Weddings actually start around 7 a.m. - yes, 7 in the morning - and go on into the afternoon.

So, we figured we might as well see the wedding from start to finish, since it was our first one! We left our house around 6:30 a.m. I didn't get up that early for my own wedding.

We drove about 30 minutes down dirt roads into a nearby village. Cambodian weddings are community events, held at the house of the groom's family. Family and friends line up about 100 meters from the house, behind the groom's party and parents. The groom's parents buy tons of fruit and put it on silver platters. The guests each get a platter to carry in line. 

The line of guests behind the groom.

The groom, between his parents. Gotta love the fluorescent pink suit.

Andrew bearing our "gifts" - pineapple

Eventually, music starts playing, and the line of people proceed down the street to the house. In front of the house is a canopy of sorts, with a fancy entryway and lots of pink. Notice the huge speaker on the pole. That is why you always know when a wedding is going on within a few miles of your house.

Once the groom and his family reach the entryway, they meet the bride's parents and say something along the lines of, "We bring these gifts so our son can marry your daughter." Then everyone walks inside and sits down.

After that, I have to admit I was a bit fuzzy on what was going on. Because the bride and groom and their families are all Christians, the service was a bit different than a traditional Buddhist wedding. A pastor stood up and talked a lot, and the groom gave some gifts to the bride's parents, then the groom's parents gave the bride's parents more presents.

The bride is the one with the fancy red dress and super pointy-toed shoes

The bride and groom

Orchids decorating the hair of one of the bridesmaids. Had some major flare going on in the background!

Then at some point, the traditional ceremony was over, and men started moving chairs around and putting tables down so we could eat breakfast - traditional bo-bo soup, or rice porridge.

Then, when everyone had had their fill, they moved the tables out and put up chairs again. This was in preparation for the Western-style ceremony, which was a bit more familiar to us than the first one.

The groom in his new white suit.

The ring exchange

"And you are now man and wife! You may now stand awkwardly next to each other and smile, but please don't kiss or hold hands. So-not-okay."

You know how after Western weddings, people typically throw rice or birdseed on the bride and groom? Well, you don't want to waste perfectly good rice, so instead, they use the coconut blossom. You can see tiny seed-like thingys (don't expect me to get technical). These can be stripped off the stalk, and they look exactly like small white opaque rice kernels. And when the bride and groom came down the aisle, they were showered in these.

And then it's time to eat again! It was now approaching the actual time mentioned on the invitation. Tables were moved back in, and loads of people started streaming in the door.

Each table had several sets wrapped in plastic of glasses, chopsticks, spoons and bowls.

The tent where the food was prepared.

We stayed at the reception about an hour and half, and in that time, the whole wedding party changed clothes three more times. I got so tired just watching them parade back and forth that I couldn't take any more photos. I asked a few people why they changed clothes so much; they shrugged their shoulders and said, "It's just what they do!"

We were pretty excited to see a wedding from start to finish. But I won't lie - we were pretty wiped out by the end of it. Especially since the weather this weekend has been unseasonably warm and sticky. Last night our kitchen was (once again) hovering around 95 degrees before we started cooking dinner. I am so thankful our landlord graciously installed extra wall fans. That helped so much with the heat!

Thanks for sticking with my long description of a Cambodian wedding. Here's to new cultural experiences!