Cathy and Fermin chose me as their wedding photographer because they were having a traditional Laotian wedding with more “costume attire” and they liked our cosplay images. They wanted someone who would capture the creative side and details of the day!
Here’s a quick rundown on the traditions pictured above: The bride started off her day in a regular white wedding dress so she could have some American classic portraits and images. Then she changed into a traditional Lao silk sinh (Lao skirt), and silk blouse, and had her hair tied up in a special way with gold decoration. The groom also went from a tuxedo to traditional silk shirt and silk salong (a pair of baggy pants).
When they arrived at the ceremony / reception site (a hotel in Clovis, California), the groom and his party were met by the bride’s relatives at a side door where they playfully prevented the groom from entering till they granted him permission. The groom paid them to open the doors and after some customary questions such as: “Where did you come from? What did you come here for? What did you bring with you?” etc. they invited him in and led him to his bride.
The centerpiece for the ceremony is known as the pha khoun, and the wedding ceremony is known as the baci ceremony. After everyone is settled in, the baci or sou khuan ceremony begins. This involves the chanting by the master of ceremony (mor phon), the egg feeding (the bride and the groom feed each other an egg) and the tying of white strings on wrists to unite the couple. At the end of the baci, the elder relatives lead the couple to somma, a customary asking for forgiveness and thanking of parents and elder relatives of both parties. This process involves the giving of small money gifts wrapped inside banana leaves, together with flowers and a pair of candles. During this ceremony, the elders, including the parents and relatives of both parties, give the couple good wishes.
After the baci is over, it is time for the party to begin when the guests are invited to eat, drink and dance! I had a lot of fun being able to capture such a rich cultural tradition!