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Cambodia,  Culture & tradition,  Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday: meet some wedding guests in Cambodia

As we got out of the car we could hear loud music coming from a house just down the road, and equally loud talking on a microphone. It drew us, inevitably, to investigate, and we were very glad that we did so.

In the second of my Friendly Friday ‘Meet …’ challenges I would like to take you to a wedding in a small village near Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were on our way to a local market when these festivities distracted us; and our guide for the day, Sam, suggested that we went to take a look.

Marquee with people in bright clothing
A village wedding near Siem Reap

He also said that it would be OK to take photos, but I hesitated at first, not wanting to intrude. However several people around the entrance to the marquee beckoned us to come closer; and one man, who spoke English, asked where we were from and said we could take whatever pictures we wanted to – so I did!

Traditional weddings in Cambodia

Wedding ceremonies here traditionally lasted three days, but nowadays they have been pared back to a day and a half. And the traditional thirty changes of dress for the bride are now only eighteen! This particular wedding was at the stage where gifts of food and drink are presented by the bride’s family, the hosts, to the visiting family of the groom; while the groom’s family in turn give money, in red envelopes. Or at least, that is what I understood to be happening.

Sam told us that the bride would soon appear, which she did, heralded by a gong. She came from the house, accompanied by bridesmaids, and went to pay her respects to both sets of parents who were sitting on a raised dais. Meanwhile the groom was sitting in the ‘audience’ with an uncle who seemed, from Sam’s explanation, to be performing a similar role to the best man at our weddings.

Two women in yellow clothing, one a traditional robe
The bride and her bridesmaids

We must have stayed about twenty minutes, made to feel welcome by the young people hovering just outside, even though we had no language in common. Their costumes suggested that they would be playing a specific role in the ceremony; but we had a lunch appointment and tore ourselves away soon after the appearance of the bride.

As I said when I introduced this new theme six weeks ago, it is so often the people we meet who make travel so rewarding and so memorable. Certainly being able to witness some of the wedding traditions of Cambodia first hand was just such an encounter for us. It was interesting to see not only the differences between this and weddings at home in England, which were many, but also spot some similarities: children dressed in probably uncomfortable finery, fidgeting as they tried to sit still; proud parents beaming at the couple; excited young girls maybe dreaming of the day when it would be their turn …

Over to you

So now it’s over to you. Who would you like us to meet? Perhaps a person or people you’ve encountered on your own travels, whether far from home or in your own country? Or maybe you’ll look closer to home to find someone we’d love to meet. Let’s celebrate the wonderful diversity of our world while also illustrating that important adage, that we have more in common than we often realise.

Please leave a comment and tag your post Friendly Friday (#friendlyfriday) if you want me to find it, as pingbacks tend not to work on my site. Thank you.

And thanks too to everyone who joined in the fun last time. Do check out their posts – they may well inspire you to share your own experiences!

  • Sandy showed us how domestic workers in Singapore spend their day off, in Filipina Sunday ;and introduced us to the Cholon Market Workers
  • ‘Salsaworld’ took us to Belgium to meet his guide, Henri, and shared Henri’s memories of the Battle of the Bulge
  • He also introduced us to Augusta Chiwy, whom he describes as ‘extraordinary woman who, without regard for her personal safety and well being, upheld the highest standards of her profession and her humanity’ – read her remarkable story and I’m sure you’ll agree 
  • Manja reminded us that animal encounters can be as memorable as human ones with her photos of a friendly neighbourhood dog
  • And Sheetal told us about the people who have inspired her love of wine

Thank you all!

I visited Cambodia in early 2020, just before the pandemic closed down travel


    • Sarah Wilkie

      Sorry to hear you’ve had more internet problems 🙁 It’s great that you had this saved and were able to share it today – I really enjoyed meeting Rory 🙂

  • Amanda

    What a fantastic experience to stumble upon this glorious scene. The adornment on the costumes so rich and beautiful. Loved the similarities with the children too.
    I don’t envy the bride with so many changes of dress though….

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Amanda, it was a real case of serendipity 🙂 No, I don’t envy the bride either, and I didn’t get the sense she was really enjoying the occasion – it all seemed a bit too serious for her, unlike the group of young people we met outside the marquee!

  • maristravels

    As usual, you’ve captured the scenes perfectly in your photographs and your prose, and what colouful images they are too. Loved all those close-ups, your really brought the event to life. I’ve only got a few (two weddings and a funeral) but a famous South Pacific lady which I’d like to write about. But I seem to have lost my mojo these days when it comes to writing and I just can’t get up the interest. I can put words down, no problem, but they don’t dance and liven up the space, so I drop the thing. Maybe one of these days I’ll feel it’s time to start again. It would help if my eyes were better but the Macular Degeneration is getting worse and I have to wear shades indoors now and especially when working on the computer as the glare hurts so much and it’s all a bit of a faff. I’m lucky I can still read the lovely posts you put up and see your photographs, so not all is lost!

    • Forestwood

      Sorry to hear that it is hard to write due to m.d. issues, Mari. Would it be easier to dictate using a phone microphone?
      I know one blogger has tried this.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you for the lovely comment Mari 🙂 I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling to write – I always love to read your posts. The MD sounds very unpleasant for you – maybe Amanda’s suggestion would be worth trying? And check your settings as it’s possible to make all sorts of adjustments – larger font, different background colour/font colour etc. As for the lost mojo, it’s maybe linked to the fact that you’re finding it harder to use the computer, so if you could resolve that you might feel more inspired again.

  • margaret21

    What a special and unexpected treat. I’ll give a bit of thought to joining in, but I’ve never had your confidence in people-snapping, though I have a few tucked away.

    • katieshevlin62gmailcom

      I’ve read your last few posts Sarah but had to go through the rigmarole of signing in again. But today was worth the signing in to comment on this post. I also loved Cambodia and like you, agree that meeting local people makes travelling so rewarding. When I’ve worked abroad I’ve also attended a few funerals, which was fascinating! But obviously no photo’s, although I would like to have taken some! I was ill for a few months so just catching up with your blogs etc. I’d love to contribute to this topic, do you just want a list of where we met people or photo’s too? This would be a good opportunity for me to get back into my writing. Absolutely amazing photos!

      • Sarah Wilkie

        How lovely to hear from you Katie, although I’m sorry you’ve been ill. I hope you’re feeling better now?

        I’m sure you must have loads of great encounters you could share – indeed, I know you have from things you’ve already written about in the past 🙂 I don’t need a list, just pick one encounter and describe it, with photos if you have them but they’re not essential. And pop back here to leave a comment with a link to your post once you’ve published it, so I will be sure to read it and can share it next time around!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Margaret, glad you enjoyed this! It was all the more special for being unexpected 🙂 I’m sure you must have something tucked away, and in any case you don’t have to illustrate your story with photos of the person – you could use more general ones to give an idea of the place where you met, for instance, or none at all!

Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you!

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