Our newest work colleague, Pou Sokvisal, got married on Saturday. He has been with MCC since early October as our new Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Coordinator. Instead of writing one long post about his wedding I’m going to break it up into a series of smaller posts each focused on an aspect of the ceremonies.
I’ll close this introduction post with some information about Khmer weddings.
- How Long: Traditional Khmer weddings lasted three days. Modern Khmer weddings squeeze many of those activities into one day.
- 16 Wedding Dresses: Visal changed outfits 11 times on his wedding day. His bride changed outfits 16 times.
- Dowry Ceremony: The groom leads a procession carrying gifts to the bride’s familial home. The gifts, on silver or gold colored platters, are laid out between the two families. In Khmer society, marriage is often seen as a union between two families rather than two individuals. This ceremony shows respect to the bride’s family and demonstrates the groom’s financial ability.
- Monk Blessing: In Buddhist weddings, Monks bless the bridge and groom with a ritualistic chant.
- Parents: One ceremony is focused on honoring both sets of parents.
- Ancestors: Cambodia has a long tradition of ancestor worship and a ceremony honoring them is included in Buddhist weddings.
- Hair Cutting: The bridge and groom have their hair cut during one ceremony!
- Comedy: Visal’s wedding had two comedians ‘roast’ the couple and their families. This was the first time I’ve seen this at a Khmer wedding but it added some laughter between the other ceremonies which are taken very seriously.
- Knot Tying: A red string is tied around the hands of the bride and groom. This is equivalent to exchanging rings and is the moment when the two are considered married.
- Western Influence: It’s become common in the city for the Western ceremony of exchanging rings to be included along with the traditional ceremonies.
Please look forward to more posts in this series.