I was invited to shoot a Cambodian wedding in Portland, Oregon and honestly, felt a little hesitant at first. I knew nothing of the traditions, protocols, or other key elements of the wedding. But once I woke up and realized the potential for what lay ahead for me, I was beyond excited and could not wait to learn about, and witness such an awesome tradition.
The day started with the Groom’s Parade (Hai Goan Gomloh) which has the groom and his family and wedding party literally parading through the neighborhood, with gifts for the bride’s family. At the front, was the Groom – Sophon – holding the pka sla, which is a huge palm tree seed pod. Once blessed, the seeds will be sprinkled all over the couple.
Once the groom and his entourage were allowed into the Bride’s family home, the offerings were laid out, as a representation of the wealth of the groom’s family.
Shortly after, the “Passing of Blessings” (Bongvul Pbopul) took place. This is a really cool tradition, where the couple are surrounded by married couples, and a candle is passed as their good luck is passed onto the new couple.
The last really cool tradition that stood out for me was the Knot Tying ceremony (Sompeas Ptem). This ceremony involves each member of the family to tie a red strong to the couple’s wrists. Sometimes, money and gifts are exchanged also.
After the ceremonies, we all headed to Jin Wah for an “Americanized” reception with dancing, food, and of course karaoke.