Traditional ceremony of a laotian wedding

When a bride becomes a friend…

When a friend is about to get married…

There are wonderful moments in between…

Mariage - photo de couple

So when A. (the bride) told me that her wedding will have a traditional celebration from Laos (soukhouane), well, I couldn’t wait to be there !

But I would have never imagined that this moment could be so beautiful, so intense, so emotional, and so colorful…

Well, one of my most extraordinary day I had the chance to live, since I’ve started to do wedding photography….

Tenue de mariage laotien

I didn’t know anything about this ceremony…

and to be honest, I don’t remember a lot of the explanations about it,

but thank god, I have my photos (and the presentation about the ceremony, made from my friend A. too)


Marié en tenue laotienne

So here are, thanks to the help of A., how you could have lived with us, that extraordinary moment, of a traditonal laotian wedding ceremony….

Literraly, Soukhouane means ” call of the charitable spirits”.

The purpose of this ceremony, ruled by an old wise man, choosen as “officer”, is to call back the souls (“khouane”) of our bodies.

Each of us, have a soul in each of our 32 body parts.

These 32 body  khouanes have a tendency to wander in nature. So we are calling them back not to miss them.

The officer, after calling th 32 khouanes, ties a white cotton string in order to hold them.

Fil de coton blanc

The ceremony usually take place at the brides home.

The groom has to go there with a cortege (his parents, close family and frends), holding a lighten candle, and a bouquet. (symbolizing of a honnest behaviour)

Sometimes the cortege has someone carrying a sabre, symbolizing bravery, and knighthood, and an umbrella to protect him from the hot sun, also symbolizing concern and affection.

The crowd goes singing this very happy moment


Cortège du marié

Cortège du marié


The crowd finds the entrance of the house closed, with a bunch of people (mostly women), decided to forbid them the access .

It’s  just a game, playing defense….


Mariage laotien - cérémonie traditionnelle

(and I have to say, they’ve played it very well, that was quite funny!)


Cérémonie traditionnelle

During this stop at the front door, starts a chat between the 2 groups (let’s negociate !)

The argument becomes understanding, and reconciliation.

Tradition famille et mariage laotien

After this, the groom has to give a first envelopp full of money (symbolic) to the family of the bride, in order to pay for some sort of a toll… entrance to her house.

In the same time, the door opens, and the bride’s family welcome with satisfaction the crowd of the groom, offering glass of alcohol to some of them (usually it’s whisky)

Tradition laotienne pour un mariage

The ceremony can now start….

The officer lights candles and give the coule a string of white cotton that links them to Phakhouane.

(and there, I was sitting juste beside A., the bride, and I felt totally overwhelmed with emotion…. and seeing her being all emotional too, didn’t make my task easier….)


Cérémonie religieuse laotienne

and then he starts the prayer, in rythmed prose 🙂

Offrande mariage

then he links the white cotton string around the wrist of the couple, renewing vows to their happy  and indissoluble union

These lucky charms strings have to be kept for 3 days.

The same operation goes on with the parents of the bride and groom, sitted just nearby.

Here is  photo of A. with her mother in law.

Mariage laotien

The officer guides the couple to the rite of Khalava, (demand of forgiveness), in order to ask forgiveness to parents, and older people of their families, for any offense they may have done to them, intentionally or not, by ther behaviour or talk, act or omission.

Parents and elderly forgiving them, then give to the couple a piece of their scarf that the couple have to  hold to their forehead in sign of respect and recognition.

All the people there are then invited to link a string of white cotton the the couple’s wrist, in order to wish them happiness and prosperity.

Fil de coton blanc

Mariage laotien

As you have guessed, this ceremony was wonderful !

Intense moment, extraordinay instants, shared with these 2 sweethearts 🙂

THANK YOU SO MUCH to them for willing to share these moments with me, that’s why I love to do wedding photography, and here are why, often, brides become my friends !


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