I’m no stranger when it comes to two people get married and every time I go to these weddings, it seems as if I’m the real-life version of Katherine Heigel’s 27 Dresses. I say that because this would be my 21st wedding and I don’t think there will be any shortage of wedding in the years to come.
I’ve known Mariah and Sos through association with Amy and the first time we’ve all spent time together was during their annual cabin trip out in the Shenandoah (photos). Spending the weekend together being drunk and stupid (#northdakota), I’ve come to the realization that these two were perfect for each other. They are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I can see why people are naturally drawn to these two.
“I’m the real life version of 27 Dresses.”
Fast forward half a year, the summer wedding season is in full swing as these two incredible people are finally tying the knot.
Amy was adamant about me showing up early at ceremony in Bristow at 7:30am and I’m not going to lie, going to bed late last night after a night of drinking fine brews will put a dent in any man’s mental capacity to appreciate the early morning sun taunting your face, telling you to get up.
“I don’t care what time you went to bed last night, I don’t follow your schedule,” the sun seem to blindingly say. “Get the F up!”
Luckily I already had my gear packed and charged the day before, therefore I showered, got dressed and headed out to what would be the longest wedding I had ever attended.
Rolling up the house, you could tell right away that shit was going down. Cars flooded the streets and relatives were directing traffic in the middle of a suburban neighborhood that seemed more like a 7:30am house party than a wedding.
After parking the car and walking into the house, you could hear the chatter of at least 50 people.
Despite what time it was, you could get a sense of mixture of excitement and tiredness, like a Cambodian version of Christmas morning.
As I walked around the house to get my bearings on where to go, I was collected right away by Amy and was quickly escorted upstairs to witness the what looked like a college dorm suite as girls were walking around in their bathrobes with their hair tied up.
It looked like a madhouse within a 50 feet radius what looked like organized chaos as makeup artists, parents, and anyone that were a part of the wedding party, all had something to do.
“Mariah had a sense of calmness that could put out fires.”
The bride to be, Mariah, seemed like the most composed person among the chaos, as if she had rehearsed for this for her whole life. Despite the chaos and the fact that this was the most important day of her life, she remained calm and still smiled after seeing me like it was a normal day.
I’ve trained for years with former special operations operators during my @tactical.ken days and keeping calm under pressure to make the shots count while your heart rate is at a steady 165 bpm, was not easy.
In this situation, when someone is about to get married to the love of her life on the most important day of her life, Mariah’s calmness impressed me to say the least.
On the other end of the hallway, was the base of operations for the groomsmen, located in a tiny room at the end of the hallway. While the bridesmaids took up more than 90% of all the rooms upstairs, the poor gentlemen were herded into a tiny room where even PETA would feel sorry for them for the poor conditions they were put in.
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen pigs treated better before they were slaughtered. This was definitely not a free-range affair.
Despite these poor and humid conditions, the guys kept their cool (literally, they had one air fan blowing into the room) and managed to throw sweaty smiles all around as they were all excited to be there.
Saying Hi to the neighbors
A traditional wedding in Cambodia is a long, complicated and expensive affair which could last for days, requiring many multiple ceremonies with various kinds of outfits and money.
Luckily, we were able to keep that one day and 3 events.
Nowadays, due to the development of the world, wedding ceremonies in Cambodia are usually completed in just one day, including the following rituals:
Firstly, the groom and his family go to the bride’s house, bringing presents known as the dowry. All of family members as well as the groom’s friends are introduced in turn. After that, the groom and the bride exchange the wedding rings.
In the dowry ceremony, there are three traditional songs performed:
Neay Pream He Kaun Kamlas (Arrival of the Groom): A song about the groom and his family’s journey to the bride’s house with the offerings including meats, fruits, cake, drinks…
Chambak Rouy (Presenting the Dowry): This is the conversation between the matchmakers, parents, relatives, and friends of both bride and groom. Now, the groom’s side will officially give the dowry to the bride’s family.
Pak Paeuk Pisa Sla (Inviting the Elders to Chew Betel Nut): In this section, the elders sit to chew betel nuts and the parents will give blessings for the pair.
This tradition has existed for many ages, in which the bride and groom will offer tea to express the gratitude to their ancestors.
Hair Cutting Ceremony
In this ritual, the groom and the bride are cut their hair. This means they will start a new life, a new relationship. It is done symbolically by the master of the ceremony first. While cutting, he gives the best wishes for the couple such as happiness, prosperity and longevity. Then the parents, friends, relatives in turn also cut the bride and groom’s hair and give the blessings too. In the past, the groom and bride’s hair were really cut in the ceremony, are not done symbolically as it today.
There are two songs in this ceremony:
Sarika Keiv Vong (The Beautiful Cardinal Bird): The song praises the bride’s beauty and considers it as the beauty of cardinal birds.
Trapeang Peiy (The Village Pond): The song draws the image of a pond with fresh clear water where the bride brings water to take the bath. Besides, it symbolizes the beginning of the bride and the groom in the the new life as wife and husband.
This is the final ritual of the wedding. All the people of two families will in turn tie the bride and groom’s wrists together with blessing strings. Every best wishes and blessings of happiness, success, richness, good health…are said in the rowdy sound of gongs. At the end of the ceremony, the guests will throw palm flowers over the couple for congratulating.
What seemed like a long wedding ceremony, you start to appreciate the beauty of tradition, something seems to get lost through the generations. As most of the weddings I’ve attended in the past were all traditionally western, it was an enriching experience to see people celebrating something their own way.
The party doesn’t end there, however, we’ve still got Part II of the wedding coming up.
Until then, enjoy the rest of the photos while I work on the next update, hopefully before I leave for Mexico.
Download Full-Size Photos on Flickr: Link
- Leica Q
- Leica M Rangefinder
- Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 (Version 5)
- Carl-Zeiss C Biogon T* 35mm f/2.8 ZM