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Khmer Traditional Wedding

In Cambodia, we take tradition ceremony seriously. Before you become husband and wife, you need to have an agreement on both sides of your parents and relatives. It means that if you are a man and love the woman, the man needs to tell his parents that he is in love with the woman. So, man’s parents will observe the woman, their parents, and relatives without let them know. If man’s parents are okay with her family background, then they can move forward. Man’s family will go and ask woman’s parents whether they allow the man to be a part of woman’s family or not. This is called, “Jol Sdey” or “Jol Sour”. Normally, man’s family needs to bring many types of fruits. They need to put on casual clothes, just a semi-formal is okay. The topic that they will talk on “Jol Sdey” or “Jol Sour” event, they will negotiate about the price for the wedding as well as to confirm YES from the woman.

There is another tiny stuff to do before moving forward. Woman’s parents and man’s parents need to check their date of birth. They need to take it to see the fortune teller. If they are mean to be, their date of birth will match to one another. If they are not, the fortune teller will probably say their date of birth is worse. They were not born to belong each other, they cannot married. To be honest, I sometimes don’t believe this part. I wonder that some people being boyfriend and girlfriend for several months or years, they get along with each other so well. But when they step on the fortune teller path, the teller says they are not mean to be. So, it’s a must for them to breakup. It doesn’t make sense at all. The loving feeling becomes the saddest part in their life. And one more thing, sometimes fortune teller says they are mean to be. So, parents should arrange their married on this date, this month and this year. But after married, I can see that they get divorce. Who is going to responsible for this? I sometimes feel like there make no sense. No one can see the future, so believe in what you see. And be the best for one another, ready for what happen next. Married life is not that easy.

Some people treat “Jol Sdey” or “Jol Sour” as engagement day but some they do the engagement day different from “Jol Sdey”. Let talk about engagement day, I found that it’s not much different or I miss some points. But what I know from engagement day, they set up this event and invite family members and closest friends to join. It shows that these couple will be husband and wife in the very soon, they are no longer available. The ceremony celebrates only half morning, but ceremony’s owners need to dress up like they are wedding. They need to put on traditional clothes, and they will be blessed by monks and priest. And the most important part of engagement day, they have to put on a ring to one and another. It is a sign of taken. Doing so, it’s not a legal from authority but it’s for family purposes.


As told earlier after the engagement, they can start to arrange for marriage. Normally, wedding celebrates at woman’s house half day and evening they will celebrate at restaurants (if they live in City which have less space to arrange the dinner party at home for many guesses) . But some of them still celebrate wedding whole day at home or the whole day at a restaurant. It depends on their financial and the house space too. So, they need to decide widely related to this issue.

Let comes closer to Khmer traditional wedding. Cambodian always respect and follow Khmer traditional wedding rule. It is a must to follow, I dunno how to elaborate but it’s crucial, though. If we are talking about our traditional wedding, there are many steps. You are going to busy from dusk till late night. Normally, they celebrate the wedding for one day and a half. The half day the before wedding day, we know it as “Jol Roung”. “Jol Roung” is pre wedding day. Parents, family members and couple to need to put on traditional clothes. They will invite monks to give a holy speech. It seems like they are inviting the dead ancestors to come and join this event. The ceremony doesn’t take long, so it’s the end of the late evening.

The Wedding Day

(Video of Morning Session on the Wedding day of Khmer famous actor & actress – Kim Seyha & Kung Chansreymom)

The following day is the wedding day, so everyone is a must to wake up in the dusk. They need to be ready for their makeup and dress up. The guests will come at 6 30am because they have to join the earliest event at 7pm of the wedding which is known as “Hael Jum Noon”. All of the family members and guests need to bring desserts, fruits, and meat out of the house. Then they need to walk as two rows back home, the priest is the one who assigns this. The groom has to stand in the front of the row, he has to walk us to the house. The bride’s parents will stand and wait us at the entrance, while the bride is inside the house. Noticeably, it’s a traditional rule that bride is not allowed to wait for groom outside of the house since we treat bride as a classy woman. When the groom arrives the house, he will be sent to the house. The marriage begins, guests and family members can have breakfast. And some of the elders need to stay inside the house for the traditional ceremony by blessing from monks and priest. The next program of the wedding, we knew it as “Kat Soik” – cut hair program. In “Kat Soik” session, everyone needs to come outside of the house and sits around the bride and groom. There will be a comedy show, the comedians will sing, dance and run this cut hair program by let the guests and family members pretend to cut the hair of bride and groom. It doesn’t take much time. Then, “Bang Vil Pram Pi” – married guests and married family members (make sure that none of them get divorced and come from the good family background) deliver the candle light around the bride and groom for 3 times. Another program which is called “Preah Thorng Toing Sbai” – groom have to hold bride’s traditional clothes to the room. There are more tiny programs and the whole traditional wedding will be ended exactly 12 midday.

The Party in the Evening

The same day of marriage, they need to prepare to be ready to serve the meal for the evening session. As mentioned earlier, they can celebrate it either at home or at the restaurant. Just because of a different venue, it doesn’t mean the evening session will be celebrated differently. Bride’s parents, groom’s parents and this newly wed spouse, they have to put on other traditional clothes and stand at the gate to welcome the guests and relatives. In the evening, it doesn’t involve with the traditional ceremony. It’s a party to let the guests and relatives have fun. And it happens till late at night. The wedding is finally ended by that time. You probably feel a little bit complicated or misunderstand in some parts of Khmer traditional wedding, but it’s okay. You can join it sometimes, let feel our different.

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