Chicago is known as the melting-pot of the Midwest – a place where many different cultures and lifestyles meet and mesh together, providing a diverse and exciting home for a variety of people. Kannitha and Mario found love here in Chicago and celebrated the union of their Cambodian, Filipino, and El Salvadorian cultures with wedding celebrations that were beautifully vivid and colorful from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes. We’re so pleased they chose us as the photographer for their Cambodian wedding and we’re even more excited to share their gorgeous ceremony and reception photos!
Traditional Cambodian wedding ceremonies generally last three days to represent the three jewels of Buddhism, although most modern Cambodian ceremonies are shortened to a day and a half – still an epic party in our opinion! Kannitha and Mario chose to celebrate Kannitha’s Cambodian heritage on Friday with a traditional Khmer ceremony, followed by a more Western/American wedding celebration on Saturday that incorporated elements from both of their cultures, and some of the most gorgeous outfits E.V.E.R.
Friday’s ceremony was based on the legend about the marriage of the Khmer prince Preah Thong, to the naga princess Neang Neak. When we met up with Mario and Kannitha, they were putting the final touches on their beautiful Cambodian attire in preparation for the Hai Goan Gomloh, the groom’s procession to the bride’s parents’ home and presentation of the dowry.
Surrounded by family and friends, Mario led the procession to his waiting bride. Kannitha greeted her visitors and the couple walked into the house carrying a golden container containing flowers from the areca nut tree and other offerings for the ceremony, followed by Mario’s family all bearing gifts. They knelt and paid their respects to the bride’s parents and offered prayers at the altar as Mario’s family displayed the trays containing the gifts for the dowry that ranged from a small roasted pig to cans of Coca Cola.
While the gifts were being arranged, Mario and Kannitha changed into more traditional opulent all-gold silk outfits that represent royalty. They took their places on the floor and continued the ceremony with the Soat Mun where the bride and groom are blessed by monks – a very moving and solemn moment. Following the blessing, Mario and Kannitha took part in the Gaat Sah – a mock-haircut symbolizing a new, fresh start.
The next tradition in the Cambodian wedding ceremony is the Sompeas Ptem, a knot-tying that symbolizes the unity between Mario and Kannitha. It has a similar meaning to the American knot-tying tradition, but in Khmer weddings, it is the guests who tie the knots, not the bride and groom. Close family and friends were invited to bring their best wishes and blessings to the new couple by individually tying three ribbons around each of their wrists. These knots were tied on both Mario and Kannitha, who are traditionally required to wear them for three days. The knots signified wishes for true happiness and success to the couple, who will always be together like wet grass seeds. The knots tied to their left wrists were to make them remember their parents, and the knots tied to their right wrists to make them carry on the family lineage and traditions.
At the end of the ceremony, guests showered Mario and Kannitha with pka sla, the white seeds found in palm tree pods, before enjoying a delicious feast and resting up for the festivities on Saturday.
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