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As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5b


How much effort did you put into your hair and appearance for your wedding day? Did you have any of your relatives offer to give you a bit more of a trim on the big day? Having relatives and friends cut the bride and grooms hair is actually a part of the wedding ceremony for most Khmer couples. Well it is not actually involving real hair being cut, but the family and friends line up holding scissors and a comb for a photo behind the groom and bride. You might be wondering what on earth such a ceremony might mean…but hold that thought. We have been learning lots about weddings over the past month, and probably will continue to be learning more for as many years as we experience wedding season in Cambodia.

We have just passed through the peak of the wedding season in Cambodia. Weddings are big events here. A Khmer person may go through their entire life without recognising or maybe even knowing their individual birthday, but they can be assured that their wedding day will be well acknowledged. A striking difference we have noticed between Khmer and our home culture is that a wedding has a lot more to say about the couple’s relationships with family and community. 

A traditional Khmer wedding usually take place under a colourful marquee at the bride’s family home. At the village where we live it might even be located on the recently harvested vegetable garden. Arriving at the invited time for a wedding in Cambodia is a rookie mistake. Consider the time on the invitation as more of a suggestion. Khmer weddings can last two days, or longer depending on the families involved. During the ceremonies, the bride and groom, and other related parties, will have to change many times into numerous outfits.

Back to the subject of symbolic hair cutting. One thing that is important in Khmer culture is that a family maintains honour. A child with a bad hairstyle could cause shame to a family; just as immoral behaviour could bring shame. The symbolism of cutting off ‘out-of-place’ hair is a bit like guiding the newly married couple to live in a way that brings honour to the family. It is also used as an occasion to speak blessings over the couple.

This Khmer wedding season gave us a colourful background to receive family celebration news of our son Jeremy’s engagement to Alana. A wedding is expected in the later part of this year. We are pretty excited about this occasion and having gotten to know Alana before we left for Cambodia, we couldn’t be happier for them both.

Above: Khmer wedding invitations remember to check the date before; as receiving it means you are going. Above right: Khmer hair cutting ceremony. Below right: The brides parents receive some of the 36 kinds of fruit offerings from the groom and his family.
The bride’s parents are shown the fruit offerings from the groom and his family
We both now have our 2019 work permits processed.
For invitations to share life celebrations with our Khmer friends.
The joy of plans to welcome a daughter-in-law to our family late in the year
For team families as they explore options for platforms to meet visa requirements.
For safety for all team members on the road.
For patience and discipline to steadily grow in the spoken and written Khmer language.