Wedding in Cambodia
You know it’s Khmer wedding season in Cambodia when the streets, fields and meadows start to bloom tents and the wonderful traditional songs can be heard as the sun rises over the green fields. Weddings typically happen during the dry season because no-one likes rain on their wedding day!
The ceremony begins
Khmer weddings are a highly ritualised and intricate affair lasting three days and three nights. The ceremony begins with the groom and his family travelling to the bride’s home bearing gifts as a dowry. This allows the family members to meet one another. Rings are exchanged and three songs are sung. The first is to announce the arrival of the groom, the second is for the presentation of the dowry and the third invites the elders to chew betel nut together – a time honoured tradition in Cambodia. After that there is the tea ceremony where the bride and groom offer tea to the spirits of their ancestors.
The bride and groom have their hair symbolically cut to symbolise them taking a fresh start together as a married couple. The first snip is taken by the master of the ceremony and, after him, the bride and groom’s parents, relatives and friends take their turns to trim their hair offering them blessings and good wishes while they do so.
The finale of the ceremony is marked by family members and friends taking it in turns to tie “blessing strings” around the wrists of the bride and groom. When this is done, the blessings of happiness, health, prosperity and long-lasting love resound with the joyful sound of the gong and happy cheers. Then, they throw palm flowers over the couple and sing a traditional song. After they are pronounced husband and wife the groom leads the bride, by the fabric of her gown into the bridal room to the accompaniment of a traditional song.
The ceremony closes with a joyful and rowdy reception where hundreds of guests gather to eat, drink and dance in modern and traditional ways. Nowadays, most families reduce the three day ceremony to a one day affair.