Posted by: Simon & Becci | January 29, 2014

Just say “I do”

We celebrated two and a half years in Cambodia last week in fine style at the wedding of our friends Narith and Ranich. Becci and I have had the joy of helping them prepare for married life over the past few months, chatting in a mix of English and broken Khmer, and are very grateful for their patient efforts in trying to understand what we’ve been saying.

The big day finally arrived last Saturday, although the hard work started with paintbrushes the week beforehand….

It all began with a fresh lick of paint....

The building transformed from this…..


….to this! (Note bride and groom outfit number 1)

If I was to sum up the wedding I’d choose six words: fruity, early, colourful, honouring, tasty and fun!


Fruit is simply everywhere at a Cambodian wedding…..

One bunch is sprayed gold, another is sprayed silver

From the bunches of bananas at the entrance that have been spray painted gold and silver….


…to dozens of plates of fruit that are used in the first part of the wedding day

The traditional fruit ceremony (Hel Chom Noun) is where the groom’s family give a gift of many plates of fruit to the bride’s family as a symbol of the ‘bride price’ being paid for her. This fruit is purchased and prepared the night before and laid out ready for the wedding day.

....and all of the fruit is ready!


What’s the earliest you have got up to go to a wedding?? Well, guests on Saturday needed to arrive at 6.30am for the start of the fruit ceremony, whilst the bride and groom arrived at 4am to get ready!!

At around 7am the fruit ceremony began as each guest was handed a platter of fruit (or vegetables, or even a pig’s leg) and filed away from the building.

Phally + gong = noisy at 7am...

Phally + gong = noisy at 7am…

We were then organised into two lines and proceeded back to the building a few minutes later following two golden umbrellas and accompanied by the sound of two gongs.

And back we all go....

And back we all go…. give fruit to the bride's family before breakfast

…to give fruit to the bride’s family before breakfast


Behold my beautiful wife in her Cambodian finery…..

What a glamorous young young!

What a glamorous young woman!

This is actually nothing compared to the bride and groom, who by my estimation went through at least five changes of clothes during the day, including both traditional Khmer and more Western outfits.

Wedding vows (outfit number 2)

Savath leads Ranich through her wedding vows (in outfit number 2)

Blessing time (outfit number 3)

Before a quick change later ready for the blessing time (in outfit number 3)


One of the parts I most enjoyed was a time when Narith and Ranich spoke words of thanks to their parents to honour them, whilst the parents then spoke words of blessing over them.



Cambodian weddings are all about food….


Breakfast (after fruit ceremony)…


Lunch (at 10.30am, after wedding service)…

And dinner!

And dinner (using the house next to the church)

The evening party was attended by over 200 people who enjoyed a seven-course dinner complete with drinks, accompanied by live (very loud) music. Thre is no table plan, so its simply a case of guests filling up tables as they arrive. Once a table is full (and only when it is full) food is served to that table.


The final picture below is of the “cutting fruit” ceremony in the evening (a bit like cutting the cake) where bride, groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen walk around a table of fruit before the happy couple sample it and can finally sit down to eat their meal (after all of the guests have finished!).

An alternative to the UK "first dance" maybe?

It is such a joy to be able to share days like these with our Cambodian friends. We look forward to the next one….



  1. What an amazing looking day! Many blessings to the bride and groom. Is any durian in the fruit platter?

  2. Hi Simon and Becci. I very much enjoyed reading your very observant account of the various cultural points that are involved in a Cambodian wedding. Most interesting! Thank you so much. I’m always fascinated by differences between one culture and another – e.g. the meanings of colours such as pink. Fascinating indeed.

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