Cambodian Weddings are quite the ordeal. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend two during a trip to visit a friend.
They begin early in the morning. Like really early. My guess is that the bridal party didn’t even sleep the night before. We showed up around 6:30am and participated in the procession by the groom’s family to present all sorts of meat, fruit, and even Coca Cola to the bride’s family at their home. The wedding was being hosted on the street near the bride’s home. It was a frequent occurrence to see streets shut down and tents erected. There is a wedding package that one can buy that includes a tent, traditional clothing for the bridal party and the groomsmen, food, lots of food, the plates for the procession, a LOUD speaker, and other audio visual components.
Everyone was dressed in traditional Khmer clothing. After the procession, we ate in the tent in the street with music blasting (did I mention it was 6:30am?) but apparently people are used to it. Fish and rice porridge was served along with other fruit and side dishes. They gave us beaded chains and little red envelopes with about 25 cents USD in them as favors. Eating is followed by a hair cutting ceremony where no hair is actually cut.
There were other ceremonies throughout the day but my friend had to work and I went sightseeing so we did not partake. I. The evening though we joined up with them again for what would appear to be a more Western ceremony with the bride in a white dress and the groom in a suit.
In order to be served at a Khmer wedding, there has to be a full table of 10 people and we were waiting for 1! Once the food did come though it didn’t stop. It seemed to be endless!
The wedding had very LOUD music. My friend said that Cambodian people have no rhythm and they can’t dance unless there is something to dance around. We danced in a circle doing very simple hand movements and feet shuffles.
Since the wedding takes over a street it is open to outside people. It is very common for groups of kids to come and collect bottles and cans. Apparently they always know where the next wedding is and make sure to show up. Running around and diving under tables for the recyclables. Another interesting fact is that the Cambodians just throw the trash on the ground when they are done with it so that it does not clog up the table.
The second wedding I went to was similar to the first in that there was a full day of ceremonies, etc. The main difference was that it was fancier than the first and held at a place specifically constructed to host weddings. There were easily 20+ banquet halls at this place so it was important to remember the letter of the hall you needed to go to.
– Similar to China, your plate, bowl, cup, and spoon all come in plastic wrapped set to ensure sterility but you still must clean them with a tissue. And of course don’t forget to throw the plastic wrap and the tissues on the floor when you’re done!
– Women only come to Khmer weddings if they can afford a dress, otherwise only the man goes. As a result there are a lot of men at the receptions.
– The men just go to get drunk.
– The bride and groom throw the bouquet together.
– Cambodia weddings would be described as “cutesy” I feel by Western standards. There is a lot of pink and over the top decor.
– For the second wedding I was given a nail clipper that had a cartoon animal around it.