As you all probably know, my fiancee and I have just returned from a trip overseas to Cambodia, and something that visiting another country tends to do is open your eyes to their culture, their history and their customs. This is something that the country of Cambodia is certainly rich with and their checkered history is something I will never forget.
With The Blogcademy fresh on my mind (I literally attended the course in Melbourne a day before we left) I used the adventure holiday to come up with some new ideas for my blog, and something I was particularly interested in overseas was the Cambodian wedding traditions. With so many locals showing us around, they shared with me their personal wedding traditions and the Cambodian customs for getting married. Here are some of the things that we had the privilege of discovering while in Cambodia.
Cambodian weddings are hard to ignore. You can usually hear the loud blaring music before you see it, and with the bright, icing coloured marquees lined up to the side of the street you can’t help but look at them as you drive by. Marquees are set up with pink drapes and yellow and red striped roofs to separate the bustling street from the wedding and tables are set up everywhere inside. You can even sometimes find beautifully ornate arches guarding the entrances of the marquees, as well as thousands of motorcycles and scooters out the front!
Most Cambodian weddings are large affairs that last several days. They generally take place in the bride’s homeland, and everyone known to the couple is invited – sometimes making the guest list up to the thousands! On the first day, the bride and groom are usually involved in multiple meetings and prayers with the local monks, but the second day is dedicated to the reception and the party.
Food is the most important aspect of the wedding, and many different traditional delicacies are served. Generally the food will be limited (Usually if there are 10 people to a table, there will only be 8 people catered for) but the alcohol will be in abundance and everyone will be drinking heavily. Something that we were quite interested to hear as well was that the wedding cake is generally an array of different kinds of fruits – not a normal cake! The bride and groom will cut pieces like coconuts and watermelon for the guests and if they would like a more western tradition they may have a wedding cake (there are fabulous bakeries around Cambodia!), but it is usually for the more well off families.
Weddings are a cause for celebration so every person in attendance in usually in the most colourful outfits they own. We personally saw some very dapper grooms in bright highlighter pink suits! It was very fabulous!
The bride apparently can change her dress up to 30 times, to have a new look for each occasion of the wedding (meeting the monk, eating the food, cutting the cake, taking photos, etc.) and this generally includes a make up and hair change as well. She never generally wears white like western traditions suggest (black and white are reserved for funerals and days of mourning) and instead chooses beautiful dresses in every colour of the rainbow.
You would think this would be expensive, but dresses are generally rented for between $200 – $800 and this includes the make up and hair change. To be honest, I feel that’s a pretty fair price! My own wedding dress was pretty cheap, but for 30 dresses, this is pretty damn good!
If your thinking of hosting your own Cambodian style wedding, I would suggest focusing on the super colourful celebratory aspect of the day. Set up bright pink drapes, beautiful ornate rugs and get everyone to dress as colourfully as possible. The Khmer have such a beautiful bond of custom, tradition, love and family awareness and it would certainly make a great addition to your own wedding. If you do decide to have one, let me know! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to feature it on my blog!
Cambodia is a beautiful place with a beautiful soul that needs help and development, so if your in that neck of the woods, I would definitely recommend visiting it! We had a great time!
More international wedding ideas soon!