Last weekend I was given the amazing opportunity to attend my first Khmer wedding. Makara, one of the Khmer girls on staff and Sam, a missionary from Switzerland were married in Kompong Speu, a province about an hour outside of Phnom Penh. Khmer weddings are a little different from American weddings, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This was a Christian wedding, so it was much shorter than a traditional Buddhist wedding which could last up to three days.
The wedding began early in the morning when we lined up around the corner from her house with gifts to bring to the family. Traditionally the groom would have walked from his house to hers even if it was in a different village, but they made a slight adjustment in Sam's case. Once the gifts were presented the bride and groom entered and some sort of negotiations with the parents took place while the guests ate breakfast.
After we finished eating we traveled to the church nearby where a more traditional service took place complete with Khmer and Swiss worship songs and Sam's father playing a beautiful song on his pipe from Switzerland to the amazement of the Khmer guests.
Following the church wedding we were taken back to the bride's house and served lunch before having some time to rest in the afternoon. The part of the wedding that most of the guests actually attend did not begin until four or so in the afternoon and was a seven or eight course meal served to each table as they were ready. While we were eating there was live Khmer music and some Swiss worship songs by Sam's very musical family. Following the meal we again through flowers and silly string at the bride and groom before they walked around the table with the cake sitting on it three times and blew out candles. After serving their parents each a bite of cake the dance party began- all around the table with the cake on it.
Sam probably wore five different suits over the course of the day and Makara had maybe seven dresses. It was definitely a different kind of wedding, but it's great to be able to experience another culture and realize that just because things are different from what I am used to they are not wrong. There is so much diversity in the world and I believe God loves it- because he created it.