Diane and Marvin had a two-day wedding celebration last summer. All of their immediate family joined them for the Cambodian ceremonies in Diane’s parents’ home. It was important for them to pay respect to the family and cultural traditions, and was a beautiful thing for me to experience! Diane’s mom was so sweet to write down the meaning of each ceremony so that I could respectfully & thoroughly capture the full day. I LOVED THIS SO MUCH.
Each ceremony is marked by an outfit change by both the bride, groom, and their parents! That’s five outfits in total. Deep within each ceremony lies meaning that I’m going to do my best to explain below.
Pithi Hae Chamnoun is the gifts parade. Traditionally, the groom will gather his family and friends to meet the bride at her family’s home. The groom and his entourage come bearing gifts for the bride’s family. The bride’s representative, Mai Ba, will meet the procession to receive the gifts, only then inviting everyone inside the home. All gifts are arranged as the Khmer traditional singer performs, describing all the gifts and fruits offered by the groom’s family to the bride’s family.
Once the bride’s family decides they are satisfied with the gifts, Diane and Marvin are officially engaged! They seal their engagement with a ring exchange.
From Diane’s mom:
“To prepare the bride and the groom for their life as a married couple, their hair is symbolically cut, representing a fresh start to their new relationship together as husband and wife.The master of ceremony performs the first symbolic haircut and wishes the couple happiness, prosperity, and longevity. The bride and groom’s parents, relatives, and friends then take turns to symbolically cut the bride and groom’s hair and give them blessings and well-wishes.”
The ceremony included about 20-25 pairs of family and friends pretending to cut their hair and spraying perfume around them.
Offering food to their ancestors is customary! Diane and Marvin offered up a prayer with a whole pig, chicken, turkey, and an array of other foods.
1. Three bands of Areca flowers are offered up.
2. Married couples are asked to sit in a circle around the bride and the groom. Three candles with heart sharp metal are lit and handed to the next person. Only married couples are allowed to participate! They each pass their right hand over the candle in a sweeping motion towards Diane and Marvin to send them a silent blessing. It is believed they can pass on the essence that has preserved their marriage onto the marrying couple. This ceremony is done seven times.
3. Families are then invited to come forward to bring their best wishes and blessing to the couple by tying ribbons around their wrists.
From Diane’s mom:
“Monks are invited to pray and give wishes to the bride and the groom. This is normally celebrated among families and relatives. We believe that the prayer will also send a message to the souls of our relatives who have passed away to let them know that we are celebrating a wedding as the bride and groom become husband and wife.”
Diane and Marvin chose to also have a western ceremony at Hangar 21 in Fullerton. Hang tight for day two coming tomorrow!
And if you’re still wanting to go down the wedding rabbit hole, here are a few recent weddings!