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The modernisation of Khmer weddings

THE number of wedding service agencies and wedding planners is increasing and the services they provide are becoming more comprehensive as more and more couples and their parents let them take on the concerns and stress of planning the big day.

According to Norng Monika, the assistant to the general director of the Mungkul Serey wedding service, the increasing demands of wedding services in Cambodia has meant an increase in the number of new wedding service agencies competing in the market.

“Using wedding services can help not only provide customers with the latest up-to-date planning, but also it takes little budget, less time and the event runs smoothly,” said Norng Monika.

“Other companies try to establish services which cover every detail to satisfy their customers, from setting up gifts to organising honeymoon tours abroad,” he added.

Norng Monika said some high echelon families would like to have their wedding ceremony spread over two or three days and include Krong Pealie (the Deity who takes care of the earth, to seek recognition for the groom to be accepted as a newcomer and offers the best wishes and good luck), Bok Leak, Cheav Khan Slar (the hall of the eareca flower), Teeth Staining and so on.

“Our company has no plan to increase the prices for wedding services and the higher or cheap prices depend on the customers’ demand.”

The process of a Cambodian wedding is also changing in some procedures from year to year. Modern weddings are different from those in previous years, including areas such as cutting the cake, which was not used very often, and the growth in popularity of floral decorations.

Norng Monika said the traditional cake cutting is not popular here. “Nowadays, cutting their cake has been reduced since some people prefer a fruit decoration or a fruit cutting ceremony instead. Others, while still adopting the cutting cake custom, do so with fewer levels of cake.”

“Fresh flower decorations are more popular among people who celebrate their wedding ceremony, house-warming ceremony or birthday,” Norng Monika said.

Sokha, who belongs to the Sokha Wedding Embellishment and Wedding Service, said their company had two levels of service packages, gold and silver. The Gold Package costs US$2,000 and includes wedding dresses and a choice of jewellry, house decoration, make-up and other items.

The Silver Package was slightly different with limitted wedding dresses, jewellry choices, house decorations and other items.

“There is no difference in our service programme this year from the previous year, but what has been changed is the dress and jewellry designs and house decorations to make them look more beautiful and professional so as to be able to compete with other agencies,” said Sokha.

“We have special discounts for customers who get married in October and November, which are in the low season, and we can also arrange honeymoon tours abroad,” she added.

And what of the cost of those going to the wedding?

“I think that when I participate at a wedding ceremony, I spend at least US$20 for make-up and US$20 for a wedding party gift,” said Heng Sina.

“My wedding dress costs from US$100-200, and I will only wear it two or three times because it will go out of fashion.”

Phnom Penh medium-scale vendor Cheang Pao feels that today’s Cambodian wedding ceremonies are staged at a high cost for the host and the participants.

“About three or four years ago, participants contributed US$10 for a party gift and US$3 for make-up and hair decoration in the city. But today I have to spend at least $US15 for a party gift and US$5 to make myself beautiful for the event and this has not yet included the cost of the dress,” she said.

The Cambodian traditional wedding is celebrated for three days because Cambodian people consider the number three as a good luck number in Buddhism. But now it is more likely to last only a day or one and a half days.

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