If your sweetheart wants proof of eternal love, you can buy flowers, visit an expensive restaurant – or celebrate a fake Khmer wedding. Siem Reap-based company Leakhana Wedding Service recently filled a market gap, and owner Hong Leakhana and her husband Chin Vichitra not only provide a fun photo session with colorful costumes, they also give their customers the full monty.
The basic package starts at $1,300 and includes a lot of dresses, props, even real monks, musicians and a marriage father called Ta Moha. Up to 15 people are provided as ‘guests’ for a period of four hours. Customers don’t have to bring anything but a willing partner, friends and family and need only provide a spacious hotel room or other location.
“A Khmer wedding is a very special event and we want to give foreign expats and tourists the opportunity to experience it,” Hong Leakhana said.
Her shop has more than one hundred elaborate costumes, and since a Cambodian wedding consists of multiple ceremonies, the couple must be prepared to change their style at least five times in four hours.
Dresses can be enlarged to western sizes or can be tailor-made for the big occasion.
The couple can bring their parents as well as three best men and three bridesmaids, who will also get costumes without extra charge. And the whole group can keep the gear for the rest of the day, if they want to take some photos in front of Angkor Wat. The basic package includes an experienced wedding photographer and videographer.
The wedding planners recommend that the ceremony is started at 6am. But if the western customer is not an early bird, all ceremonies can be moved to the afternoon or evening.
The ceremony starts with the groom’s party marching to the bride’s house, a hotel, or a restaurant, where gifts are handed over and rings will be exchanged.
In addition, real monks from a pagoda in Siem Reap invoke blessings, and a band delivers the perfect soundtrack with traditional instruments. Be prepared to lose a flick of hair, since that symbolical cut is an important part of the ceremony.
In the final and most memorable stage, family members and friends tie the bride’s and groom's left and right wrists with blessing strings.
“We can arrange everything within a minimum of two days,” Chin Vichitra said. “But if you book at least a week in advance, there will be less stress for everybody.”
But Chin Vichitra emphasises that the occasion is not a wedding in a legal sense, which might make the best day in one’s life even better in some guys’ eyes. If couples demand official papers that their country will accept, they must contact their embassy.
Hong Leakhana and Chin Vichitra, by the way, were married in February at the Apollo Wedding Plaza in Siem Reap.
It was a gigantic party with more than a thousand guests, costing about $200,000. If that is what prospective couples are looking for, and have a lazy two hundred grand, then the wedding organisers will be happy to assist you in this as well.
Leakhana Wedding Service is next to Angkor Trade Center in the city centre, and has a second shop in front of Build Bright University. For more information, visit Leakhana website.