While devouring every word on MovingToCambodia.com (and their book!), I learned what an enormous two-to-three day event Cambodian weddings were. I *had* to get invited and experience this cultural event! Two days in… I got that coveted invite! Well, truth be told, it’s not *that* coveted… the more the merrier is the theme with Cambodian weddings and foreigners get invited even if they have not met the bride or groom! Details 😉 I still felt special.
We were invited to my Cambodian friend’s brother-in-law’s wedding. This friend was my Angkor Wat tour guide in 2014, we kept in touch, I donated money to help him build a school to teach English to and volunteer taught English at this school in January. He feels like family now! Got the invite to the ceremony too late, so attended the wedding reception the next day.
I wanted to be respectful of the Cambodian culture, so read up on what to wear, how to act, etc.
All articles said it was a semi-formal to formal event. I brought one fancy dress, but it was sleeveless, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful by showing my shoulders, so opted for a wrap dress, which graced my knees, and I was insecure about that (another sign of respect – cover the knees!), but it was all I had so went with it.
We traveled 20km out of Siem Reap into the country and arrived at an elaborate tent filled with 200+ family and friends. We were warmly greeted by the ornately dressed bride, groom and wedding party. They immediately wanted to take photos with us, thanked us for coming and showed us to a table.
Everyone smiled and stared at us. Not in a “what are white people doing here?” way, but in a “I felt like a celebrity” way. My friend introduced us to half the guests, people came up to our table and engaged in conversation and we were demanded on the dance floor! Everyone displayed so much warmth and kindness. I felt loved even though I didn’t know anyone!
Had a blast dancing and showing guests moves, and learning moves from them. Everyone danced in the same direction around a table.
With each new drink (mostly beer), and when meeting new people, we would cheers our glasses (and say, “luek-tuk-chet!”)… and sometimes before each sip! And drink beer with ice. Always.
It surpassed my expectations, I was once again reminded how warm and genuine Cambodians are, and I am excited for my next invite!!