Cambodian couple Leang Phannara and Kim Bethyliza were elated when they could finally wed last Friday after the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in the country.

Cambodia has been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic with fewer than 500 cases and no deaths, but lockdowns and bans on gatherings disrupted lives and left the pair forced to delay their wedding several times.

Leang Phannara and Kim Bethyliza attend their traditional Khmer wedding ceremony after it was delayed for months due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia January 29, 2021. Image: Reuters

“We were able to marry in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic because restrictions were lifted, due to our country not having a large number of infections,” said Phannara, the 31-year-old groom.

“So we are very happy that we were able to marry, according to our Khmer traditions,” he added.

Bethyliza said it was hard trying to organise a wedding with things constantly in flux, but she felt happy and satisfied.

Guests pose for a photo at a traditional Khmer wedding ceremony after it was delayed for months due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia January 29, 2021. Image: Reuters

The wedding included a Buddhist blessing, a traditional procession to the bride’s side of the family and a ceremony to tie a thread around the couple’s wrists, a symbol of the pair tying the knot.

Scenes like this are a welcome sight for wedding planner Heng Sokkhorn, 38, who helped arrange the couple’s wedding.

Before the pandemic, she would typically plan about 10 to 20 weddings a month. But due to restrictions and the financial pressures on clients her business is down about 80 percent and she only planned a handful a weddings in January.

Leang Phannara and Kim Bethyliza attend their traditional Khmer wedding ceremony after it was delayed for months due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia January 29, 2021. Image: Reuters

“I felt relieved after the government eased the lockdown, but it is still not fully reopened and back to normal yet,” Sokkhorn said.

REUTERS | PHNOM PENH

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