- Posted August 27, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Cambodia’s spectacular ruins
Angkor Wat blessings after saying 'I do' - a fascinating Khmer wedding-photo tradition
Often, tourists who visit the ruins of Angkor Wat (considered the largest religious monument in the world) come across a whole wedding entourage - brides, grooms, bridesmaids, groomsmen, makeup artists, photographers, relatives - in various stages of a photo-shoot in front of the temple complex. I observed this unique wedding tradition with utter fascination on my first ever visit to the temple and to Cambodia. In over an hour, I saw no less than six to seven Khmer couples and their family/friends taking post-wedding photos with the temple as a grand backdrop. Some were dressed in traditional Khmer wedding finery, others in western gowns and tuxedoes, a few had even come prepared for outfit changes (this is done in public view, but away from the temple complex and very prudently). The most popular shots seemed to be at the main entrance of the temple, on the walkway and in front of the lotus pond. It was as well-organized as could be - makeup touch-ups, umbrellas shading the newlyweds from the sun, soft-drinks on standby and hand fans to keep the couple cool.
It does seem that the Khmers are used to tourists asking for permission to take photographs of them in their wedding finery. The bride and groom in this photo were photographed by close to a dozen tourists and smiled happily. I gathered from our guide that there were several speciality Angkor Wat Wedding Photographers in Siem Reap and wedding photography was a thriving business. I was able to congratulate the couple briefly, just after taking their picture. I asked about the significance of photos at the sacred temple. The bride just smiled, the groom very quickly said, “Very lucky for us, big blessing for couples’’. Then it was on to the next shot! I'm not too sure when this became a Cambodian wedding tradition, but I'm guessing that this has been going on for decades now.
Our guide said that it was not just post-wedding photo-shoots which were in demand here, engagement and pre-wedding photo-shoots were popular too. I was told that Khmer wedding ceremonies were sometimes held at the temple but not all couples get to marry there; several come from smaller towns just for the photo-shoot. I even found out that some couples go from temple to temple and get their photos taken. While many Khmers simply head to Angkor Wat post-wedding for photo-shoots, even locals advise getting Apsara permits. Our guide informed me that professional photographers, foreign nationals and videographers need an authorization certificate from the APSARA authority, in addition to the Angkor tourist pass.
Photograph: Vinita A Shetty
Location: Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia