A Cambodia Destination WeddingWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Ave Nocturna Photography
Lucinda and Rob had several reasons for hosting a destination wedding, but the bride’s lineage was at the forefront. “[We chose to do a destination wedding] to honor my Cambodian heritage and for my parents – I was the last of my sisters to get married and I knew it would mean a lot to them if we did a traditional Cambodian ceremony,” says Lucinda. So, after some deliberation, the couple opted to host a stunning Cambodia destination wedding! Traditional Cambodian weddings are quite large and Lucinda and Rob’s wedding was actually considered on the smaller side with 250-300 guests.
The extensive guest list was made up of friends and family from Siem Reap, Singapore and the United States. “Family and friends were very excited,” says the bride. “Rob and I lived in Singapore for four years and had the chance to visit Siem Reap frequently, so much of the family in Cambodia had known us for a while and were excited to witness us making it official. The friends from Singapore and the U.S. that made the trip were also excited to take part in a Cambodian ceremony and festivities…something they had never seen or experienced before. Many had never been to Cambodia before.”
With their family and friends on board and the destination decided, the next step was to choose their wedding date. This ended up being much more complicated than expected, since the couple was adhering to Cambodian traditions. “The biggest issue we ran into was selecting a date. An auspicious date was selected for us based on our birth dates. You are given one ideal date and a backup date. We used our backup date as the date of our wedding in the U.S. (we did two weddings). After getting our ideal date, we learned one of my cousins in Cambodia was also getting married the same month and he had been given the same date. We didn’t want to compete with another wedding in the family and force people to pick which they would attend, so we decided not to do the Cambodian wedding. A few weeks later, we learned my cousin’s date had changed, so we were able to do the Cambodian wedding after all.”
A major perk of hosting their wedding in Siep Reap was the bride’s father and family lived locally. This turned out to be a tremendous help for the couple when it came to planning such a large event from afar. “Siem Reap is my dad’s hometown,” says the bride. “We held the ceremonies at his house. I relied on my family in Siem Reap a lot, so I didn’t really plan much myself. There are certain aspects of a Cambodian wedding that must be ‘just so,’ but I’m not sure exactly why or how, so I just went with the flow on many things. We arrived about a week before the wedding to pick out costumes (We had maybe 10 costume changes!), flowers, decorations, etc.”
The couple arrived safe and sound ahead of their wedding and, thankfully, their guests didn’t run into any major issues when it came to travel. “Guests coming from Singapore had it easy,” says Lucinda. “Siem Reap is about a two-hour flight from Singapore. But guests coming from the U.S. had to travel up to 30 hours to get there. Other than the long flight, everything else was pretty smooth. I have cousins that work at the Siem Reap airport that helped to receive guests and there is a hotel next to my dad’s house that some guests stayed at.” Once everyone had arrived, the group enjoyed several days of ceremonies and receptions – each more beautiful than the one before it.
As mentioned before, the couple hosted a second, more traditional wedding in their home state of California. When we asked Lucinda and Rob how the events differed, this is what they had to say. “[Our] wedding in California better reflected our personal tastes and style,” says the bride. “The one in Cambodia was very much a traditional wedding. The Cambodian wedding [cost] less than our wedding in California, but we spent more than usual all together since we had two weddings!”
With not one, but two successful weddings, Lucinda and Rob are seasoned wedding planners. We asked the newlyweds what advice they would offer other destination wedding couples. “Take extra effort to soak in the details and be in the moment,” says the bride. “If all goes well, the day will likely become a blur. Apparently, wedding day amnesia is a real thing that no one told us about until after. For anyone planning a destination wedding, find someone you trust on the other end and just let go. It’s difficult to control things from afar, especially when you may be unfamiliar with the culture and you will drive yourself crazy trying. We were lucky to have my parents and aunt take the reins on that one.”
Vendors: Photographer: Ave Nocturna Photography; Wedding Destination: Siem Reap, Cambodia; Ceremony/Reception Site: Private Home/Apolo Plaza Restaurant; Florist: Sokha; Stationery: Tau Kim Teng; Gown Designer, Groom’s Clothing Designer, Hair & Makeup, Bridesmaids Dresses and Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: Linarith Chou Sokhom
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