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Chicago Cambodian Wedding Ceremony Photography – Mario & Kannitha Part 1

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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.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Mario and Kannitha’s Chicago Cambodian and Filipino wedding ceremony!

If you are looking for a wedding photographer in Chicago to capture the memorable moments at your wedding, and interested in our availability and pricing, please drop us a line using the online inquiry form here.



  • August 15, 2012 - 9:54 am

    Hoang Lam - Good work Joshua! And I’m sorry for getting in your shots! HahaReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 9:56 am

    kannitha garcia - I am so grateful to have you as our photographer for both wedding ceremonies!! You truly know how to capture the moment!! thank you for sharing our culture on your blog and giving viewers indepth knowledge about what it means. this is awesome work Josh!! =)ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 9:58 am

    Gabriel Clarito - Wowow pictures turned out awesome!!!! I wanna see more!!!!ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 10:08 am

    Devi - Tradition are such an essential part of our family and for you to be able to capture them the way you do and narrate the ceremonies makes me so proud. Thank you Josh!ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 10:53 am

    Jason Garcia - great work Josh! definitely got some skills and are a huge part of immortalizing this momentous occassion! Keep it up and we will definitely spread the legend of the man with the magic eye….it was awesome meeting you and having you be a part of the journey!ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 10:54 am

    Mario G. - Wow! Great work Josh!! I absolutely love the last shot! The detail shots look amazing also. It looked good in person but looks even better in these pictures, ha! Cant wait for part 2!ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 11:00 am

    Grace Terry - Beautiful pictures and so colorful! Can’t wait to see Part 2.ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    Justin Capadocia - Gorgeous brother! Great working with you.ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    mirela - These are so gorgeous. I can’t wait to see part II.ReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    mirela - I love these. He truly captured the moment beautifully. Super excited for part IIReplyCancel

  • August 15, 2012 - 9:12 pm

    E - These pictures are beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • August 16, 2012 - 10:14 am

    Chicago wedding photographer Cambodian Filipino El Salvadorian wedding ceremony and reception - […] s1);})(); Yesterday we brought you Part 1 of Mario and Kannitha’s cultural wedding extravaganza that combined elements from Cambodian, Filipino, and El Salvadorian tr….  Today’s Part 2 features photography from their Saturday celebration, a more Western/American […]ReplyCancel

  • August 17, 2012 - 7:04 pm

    Rose - So beautiful!! Reminds me of Thailand. 🙂 I love all the gold and red.ReplyCancel

  • August 22, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    stacey kuro - WOW…..these are just beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    Deborah Hess - Wow! Beautiful pictures (of course you had great subjects 🙂 Fabulous color and definition!ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2012 - 1:45 pm

    Sharunda - So colorful and joyous! congrats again!ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2012 - 2:35 pm

    Isabel - LOVE this wedding!! Love all the traditions and customs!ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2012 - 3:06 pm

    Tawni - Beautiful pics and a beautiful couple! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2012 - 4:58 pm

    Claire Van Fossen - Such an incredibly beautiful and spiritual event! God Bless you lovely couple you!ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2012 - 5:36 pm

    Cara Aronson - These are amazing and beautiful pictures!! I wish you both the best!ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2012 - 5:57 pm

    Evamarie - WOW! Beautiful! I love how the site has a story to explain the day and your traditions!ReplyCancel

  • August 27, 2012 - 1:19 pm

    Kristy - WOW!!! Amazing colors! I love the filter on the first picture! Gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • September 6, 2012 - 10:27 am

    jake b - great picturesReplyCancel