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Getting Married in Bangkok, Thailand

Thai Traditions and Weddings

Thailand being a mainly Buddhist country, has many cultural traditions and these are reflected in events such as the Thai wedding ceremony. The white wedding seen in Christian weddings is very differnt from what you can expect when getting married in Bangkok.

The first thing is that Thai weddings here are normally larger and more lavish than weddings back in the west. It is also expected that the family invite everyone they know Thai wedingor do business with. So the average wedding in relationship to the couple income. A simple one will have 300 to 500 guests with large weddings expecting 900 to well over a thousand guests invited. Of course all invitees may not come. The stranger thing is that there are no such things RSVP cards and one is not expected to say if they will come or not, so one never knows till the wedding day who is going and who is not. 

Thai Engagement

The Traditional Thai wedding is basically broken down into two main parts. The first part involves the actual marriage ceremony (which now includes the engagement ceremony which in years gone by was done months ahead of the wedding) and this will normally take place in the morning time. For this part the guest list normally only includes the family and close friends. The second part is the wedding reception or wedding feast, which will be a much larger invited list. It is held at the home or a large hotel. This part will include neighbors, fellow co-workers, clients, and anyone higher social economically than your family, that might choose to come. This is done in order to introduce the new son in-law or daughter in-law to all the people they may need to know in order to help them be a success in their livelihood. So yes weddings have a lot to do with face and social graces and influence. That might be the reason that they will probably be bigger financial burden for a young couple than in the west.

Thai Dowry

A dowry is expected to be paid by the groom to the brides family as well as for ALL the wedding expenses.  Before you think Thai men are buying a bride, it is akin to buying a diamond engagement ring, bigger the better, but the profit goes to the mother rather than the diamond jewelry shop or De Beers which is the case in the west. So all you men out there who say they would never pay a dowry, believe me you will pay a lot more in the long run, if it is not done as part of the engagement and wedding ceremony.

The wedding ceremony is basically include several ceremonies :

  1. The groom’s procession, (Haekhan Mak) where the groom leads a procession with his friends and family to the bride’s house while the Thai song telling about the love and marriage is sung with Thai folk musical instruments playing. There will be symbolic gates which the groom must pass in order to attain the bride family and friend consent to marry is love.
  2.  The ritual, where the monks would pray for the bride and groom to have along and prosperous life together (Sueb Chata) and the couple would pay respect and give offerings and a meal to the monks;

The actual wedding Thai Buddhist ceremony:

Be it the lesser known but more romantic “Knot Tying Ceremony” (Pook Kor Mue) of northern Thailand or the more common “water pouring ceremony” ( PrasardPorn Rotnam Prapudtamon) of central and southern Thailand.

The water pouring ceremony is where all the guests will pour down the holy water given by the monks during the morning offering. This water is poured over the hands of the groom and bride, by guests who are older than the soon to be newly weds. The water is collected and then used to water a tree to bring good luck.

The Knot Tying Ceremony from northern  Thailand has been called the most romantic wedding ceremony of all Thai wedding ceremonies and is slightly different from the central Thai wedding ceremony, It is where the couple is physically and spiritually are tied together for a life time with actual strings as well as spiritual ones.

  1. Then the nuptial bedroom ceremony where the couple will be led by the eldest couple at the wedding to their bedroom where they will be expected to sit on the bed together and be seen by all.  Then later they will spend their first night as a married couple in that room. At the completion of the viewing the marriage if officially finished.

The wedding receptions maybe a little bit less lively than a western wedding reception. If they are held in a local hotel, they are basically arrive be introduced to everyone, eat a meal and then go home, pretty much once the meal is finished.  However if it is at the family home or rural local they are normally a lot more fun and a bit more lively. More like a block party and can go on well past the meal, well until the drink is all gone, or the couple is allowed to retire, then often the party may continue elsewhere near by.

The interestingly the legal marriage registration in Thailand  unlike in The UK or most western countries has nothing to do with the actual ceremony aspect of a Thai wedding. It is separate because a legal marriage in Thailand is not a chattel agreement but a contractual agreement between the bide and the groom.

If you are ever fortunate enough to be invited to a traditional Thai wedding remember one is not traditionally suppose to wear black to a wedding in Thai culture. As well the perfect wedding gift is an envelope with money as most couple depend on this to keep them out of dept much more than a toaster or rice cooker, after all the bills for the wedding come in.

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