Cambodian weddings traditionally consist of ceremonies and celebrations lasting three days and three nights. Three is considered to be an especially auspicious number by Cambodians because of its association with the "three jewels" of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Sangha (brotherhood of monks), and the Dhamma (the Buddha's teachings). Due to the demands of modern day life however, today, both in Cambodia and overseas, all the following wedding ceremonies are usually completed in just one day.
PRESENTATION OF DOWRY
Cambodian weddings begin with the groom and his family traveling to the bride's home bearing gifts to the bride's family as dowry. Family members and friends are introduced, and wedding rings exchanged. Three traditional songs accompany the presentation of dowry:
Neay Pream He Kaun Kamlas (Arrival of the Groom)
· A song telling the story of the groom and his family's journey to the bride's house bearing meats, fruits, pastries, drinks and desserts of every variety to be presented on the wedding day.
Chambak Rouy (Presenting the Dowry)
· A dialogue between the matchmakers, parents, relatives, and friends of the bride and groom in which the groom's family and friends officially present the dowry gifts to the bride's family.
Pak Paeuk Pisa Sla (Inviting the Elders to Chew Betel Nut)
· Presentation of the betel nut to the bride and groom's elders. In turn, parents of both the bride and groom ask for blessings and well-wishes for their children.
A tradition practiced by Cambodians of Chinese descent in which the bride and groom offer tea to the spirits of their ancestors.
HAIR CUTTING CEREMONY
To prepare the bride and groom for their life as a married couple, their hair is symbolically cut, representing a fresh start to their new relationship together as husband and wife. The master of ceremony performs the first symbolic hair cut and wishes the couple happiness, prosperity, and longevity. The bride and groom's parents, relatives, and friends then take turn to symbolically cut the bride and groom's hair and give them blessings and well-wishes. (In the old days, the bride and groom's hair were really cut during this ceremony, but in modern times it is only done symbolically.) Two songs accompany this ceremony: