6 Interesting facts about Cambodian Weddings

By Chheng Sotharath

  1. Age and Marriage

For most Cambodians, marriage is an important stage in their lifetime. Usually, Cambodian women are supposed to get married before the age of twenty-five, and for those in rural areas, most of them are arranged by the elders (Did you know the Khmer word «ប្រពន្ធ» (wife) literally means “arrangement”?) to get married even while the girls are in their teens. Personally, I think this is a cultural pressure for women and girls.

However, in recent years, there has been an increasing number of women challenging this idea by prioritizing education, careers, professions, and putting their own lifestyle choices before marriage.

2. Scope of the Wedding Ceremony and Social and Economic Status

© Annie Irving/2013

Additionally, to most Cambodians, how long and how big the wedding ceremony is, usually establishes the social status and economic standing of the parties involved. A traditional wedding ceremony is pretty complicated and expensive. Weddings can last three days, or sometimes one week, depending on the families involved. During the ceremonies, the bride and groom, and other related parties, will have to change a lot of traditional, beautiful outfits from early morning until evening hours.

3. Who Will be Invited

© Annie Irving/2013

In contrast to Western wedding ceremonies, where only close family members and friends are invited to join, Cambodians want to make their wedding ceremonies as large and as impressive as possible to show-off how wealthy and powerful their families are. So, they invite almost everyone they know to attend their wedding, that is usually held in impressive, large halls.

4. Expected Wedding Gifts

Regarding the invitation, guests are normally given an envelope that they are expected to put cash in as a wedding gift. On average, normal guests are expected to grant 20-dollar gift to the newly wed couple; however, if you are their very close friends, employers, or close relatives, you can give them more than 20 dollars. As a matter of fact, the amount of money that the couple get from their guests will be noted carefully in a book, so that the couple know the appropriate amount of money that they should give as a present when their guests invite them to weddings later on.

5. Theme of the Dresses

© Annie Irving /2013

For some wedding ceremonies, the color of the guests’ dresses are also expected to match with the theme color of the wedding ceremonies.

6. Dinner Time

Upon conclusion of the wedding ceremonies, there is a huge dinner with a lot of delicious food and drinks. Most men are expected to drink beer and wine, and raise a toast for the newly-weds. In addition, guests, family members as well as the bride and groom dance on the dance floor and have photographs taken together.

Even though the process of Cambodian wedding celebration is quite complicated and takes a lot of time and money, they are satisfied with that because they think that marriage is a very special event in their lifetime, and so that they have to make the best of it.

© Jason & Ana Photography / 2015

Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.

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