Destination weddings are almost a necessity to those in multicultural relationships. You live in country A but you are from country B and your partner from country C. If you are lucky, all three might be close to each other or maybe even you and your partner are from the same place but living overseas. With friends and family scattered around the world finding the perfect location is an effort in damage control.
When we received the invitation for a wedding in Angkor Wat we were surprised. Destination weddings in Asia tend to be in the popular Bali or Phuket where the infrastructure can more easily accommodate large parties and the choice is unlimited. And since they are good for travel in opposite times of the year you are covered. Angkor Wat seemed an interesting yet unexplored alternative. It turned out this was going to be a truly special wedding which the Dutch couple had chosen because they wanted something different and unique. And they succeeded!
The Temple City of Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Started as a Hindu temple it then changed into Buddhist. It is still used in today’s times and it is so important in Cambodia’s past and present that it features on the country’s flag.
The ceremony was held in the hotel gardens with a Buddhist blessing done by three local monks. Decorations in bright gold, orange and red only disturbed by the white of the fragrant flower petals. The chants took over the atmosphere, all of us watching impatiently wondering what was coming next. A translator was brought in to give us and the couple an indication of what we were supposed to do.
“No clapping!” we were warned but then we were suddenly encouraged to make as much noise as we could once the ceremony ended.
There were offerings and vows read out by a Master of Ceremonies, jokes by the couple and lots of laughing and then we moved onto the champagne and canapes.
Between the ceremony and dinner we were free to relax by the pool. Cambodia being so hot it was a wise idea for all of us to freshen up and relax in the hottest hours of the day. And what a spectacular dinner awaited us.
Diner was 20s themed. Flapper dresses, suspenders, gangster outfits and Great Gatsby inspired accessories made a dashing contrast with the Buddhist temples as a backdrop.
We were taken to the temple by branded tuk tuks with the couple’s name on them. The exhilarating journey passed through the most famous landmarks in Angkor at sunset time when the crowds were taking their positions and setting up for that special sunset shot that would steal your breath away. Angkor Wat looked stunning in all shades of warm yellows and oranges, the main temple reflected on the moat.
When the tuk tuk stopped by the side of the road between two temples guests couldn’t help but be awe struck by the sighting. The path to the dinner tent was flanked by bamboo torches and the towering forest canopy above us encroached just like the jungle has done in Hollywood-famous Ta Phrom temple creating a natural dome under which we felt cuddled.
Dinner was set on a tent by one of the temples. The temple doors and windows had been lit up with dancing flash lights in all colours that gave it a heart-stopping, dramatically romantic look. We were all in love in the way only weddings can create.
Apsara dancers stood still in typical postures on each of the temple doors. Dressed with beautifully jewelled headpieces and wearing the traditional wrap-around sarongs they replicated the many tales carved on Angkor Wat’s temple walls. It was magical and lavishly effortless. Every time they would move I could feel a tingle in my spine. They were so delicate, slowly changing posture as if they were angels.
In contrast with the perfectly ceremonious backdrop dinner was a casual meat fondue affair, typical in Cambodia, in which we all cooked our own food in the delicious broth. It was fitting to the friendly and simple attitude of the couple, happily enjoying their day.
The dancers were joined by musicians as they related scenes of folkloric dances and fairy tales.
With full bellies were went back to the hotel, this time by bus, to dance until the morning light with our 20s outfits in the colonial setting of the hotel.
What a romantic way to celebrate love and share happiness!