When we talk about weddings in Thailand, we usually think about beautiful beach weddings, with a stunning scenario. However, the country has a lot more to offer to couples.
“In Thailand, we have various destinations, some couples prefer indoor wedding, some prefer outdoor, some prefer beach”, says Satchukorn Kunkanokpong.
Photo: Kadek Artayasa at Diktat Photography | Wedding planner: Jeanette Skelton
But the advantages of doing a wedding in Thailand go beyond the beautiful landscapes. “You get more value for your money. The sun is always shining and it is warm and chances are you will have your feet in the sand on the beach or a view of the ocean as you say your vows. The food is amazing and you have gorgeous local flowers abundant all year around”, says Jeanette Skelton.
According to HoangAnh Jenny DuongVu, Thailand is centrally located between Australia and Europe, which makes it particularly popular for couples with relatives in both regions. “In Thailand, you’ll find breathtakingly beautiful villa, the sea lapping gently on white sand, palm trees waving and lanterns hanging below a starlit sky over the dated registry office; the busy road blaring behind your treasured photos; or the garish hotel carpet with the same (or even less) cost. There are also stunning Thai islands such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. There are a million and one corners of Thailand waiting to be explored so you needn’t even remain at the wedding venue. Hide out at one of the many 5 star luxury beach resorts; ride elephants on jungle treks in the North of Thailand or explore the thriving and energetic city of Bangkok…or do all three! Bangkok airport also offers affordable flights, should you want to discover any of the fantastic honeymoon destinations close by; from the culturally stimulating Vietnam to the blissful Maldives”, tells HoangAnh.
According to Satchukorn, there are many destinations in every region of Thailand which offer modern amenities and natural attractions blended with local charm. Jeanette says that Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui are the top destinations for weddings. The wedding planner Chonlada Lafferty suggests Thailand’s beaches on the Andaman sea: sparkling blue waters, stunning tropical islands, and beautiful stretches of silky sand.
First step: hire a local wedding planner
Jeanette advises the couples who want to get married in Thailand to hire a local wedding planner. “This professional has all the information on venues, vendors and what works best in the tropics, which saves you so much time”, she explains.
HoangAnh agrees with Jeanette and suggests to hire a wedding planner and to have a good venue. “Sometimes having the ‘admin’ of the day taken out of your hands can be scary, you can feel less in control – this is where picking a good wedding planner who understands and thinks like you is the key. Choose somewhere that will allow you to have control over the important things – the colors, the theme, the entertainment; somewhere that will be flexible, to make the day fit to your dreams; and most importantly somewhere that you trust to do it properly. Read past reviews, look at pictures and talk to previous couples to make sure you’re completely happy with the company you choose…then all that’s left to do is think about the important things…like your dress!”, suggests HoangAnh.
Chonlada resumes it all in four main tips: “Choose an accessible location with guest entertainment and activities options for whole weekend. Avoid hurricane season and have a backup venue ready in any case! Hire a planner: they have local knowledge and connections. Mail invites early!”.
Another thing that helps a lot while planning a destination wedding is when couples know their needs for the wedding. “Like theme, color, preferred flower, etc. And with some reference picture of the decoration that they like, so it would be a lot easier to discuss in details”, advises Satchukorn.
Avarage cost of a wedding in Thailand
Photo: Darin Images | Planner: Chonlada Lafferty
Ok, so you decided to get married in Thailand. How much does it cost? Of course, it depends on the number of guests and the type of wedding you want to do, but HoangAnh gives an estimate: “The average cost of a wedding in the UK or Australia is around US$ 30.000. In contrast, the average cost for a wedding day in Thailand (for 30 guests) is three times lesser: US$ 10.000”.
Best time in the year to do a wedding in Thailand
Photo: Nindka Photography | Wedding planner: Jeanette Skelton
If you’re planning a wedding on Thailand, you must know that the weather can be quite unpredictable. “We never know when the tropics will deliver a downpour. Although August in Samui is their best month, like a European summer”, says the wedding planner Jeanette Skelton.
Satchukorn says that it is possible to do a wedding in Thailand all year round, but in Phuket, the best time is around November to May. Chonlada mentions that November to February are the most desirable months for a seaside wedding in Thailand. “Cool, dry weather, clear skies, and amenable wave action make for an enjoyable holiday filled with fun water sports activities”, she says.
“Most guidebooks say September to November is monsoon season, but let’s get this straight first: weather in Thailand is tropical. It means that it is not always hot, dry, humid, cloudy or sunny – there will be showers, there will be draught, there will be storms anytime of the year. But then again, that is all part of the charm of this exotic country as well as ceremonies on the beach, cocktails in the sunshine, dining under the stars. Any good wedding venue will make the most of the weather and make sure you are outside as much as possible, however it’s always worth checking there is a reliable plan B”, remembers HoangAnh.
Types of ceremony
Photo: Liam Collard | Wedding planner: Jeanette Skelton
Want to have a legalized wedding in Thailand? According to Jeanette, to have a legalised wedding in Thailand, an agency in Bangkok can prepare all the paperwork, which you will need to fly in for a day or two to sign. “At the wedding ceremony, the wedding planner or agency will arrange a local government officer to sign that paperwork and certificate at the wedding. You can have any type of wedding ceremony in Thailand but without the paperwork it will not be legal”, she says.
HoangAnh explains that to get married in Thailand, in addition to the passports a couple must provide a proof that they are both single and free to marry – a statutory statement or affidavit of non-attachment notarized by your respective in Bangkok. “Some nationalities might require a proof of your marital status from your home country, some other, like the UK and US, will provide an Affidavit or Statutory form and, after completion, will notarize it for you. Very few formalities are required for non-Thai couples to get married. It is fast, easy to arrange and inexpensive. All the documents should be translated to Thai and attested by the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The complete service is roughly 880$”, remarks HoangAnh.
Photo: Madiow Photography | Wedding planner: Jeanette Skelton
For the ones who wish to get married in Thailand, it might be nice to add some local traditions to the wedding. “Some couples include Thai traditions’ on their wedding ceremony. Like Thai Buddhist Blessing, Khan Maak Procession, The Thread Ceremony & Water Pouring, etc”, tells Satchukorn.
See some of them:
According to HoangAnh, the water pouring (rod nam sang) is the most important part of the Thai wedding ceremony as during this part the couple officially become husband and wife. “Before the water pouring can take place, the couple must seat themselves at the traditional water pouring tables and chairs, with the bride to the left of the groom. They will each have a ceremonial headdress (มงคล/Mong Kol) , made from one piece of cotton to signify the joining of the couple, placed upon their heads. The Mong Kol will have previously been blessed by the Buddhist monks earlier in the wedding. The couple will be fully prepared for the water pouring to start once they place both hands (palms together), overhanging the water pouring table and positioned above flowers that have been arranged in a water tray, to capture the water that runs off. Each of the guests in turn will take the ceremonial conch shell (สังข์รดน้ำ/Sang Rot Naam), which has been freshly filled with holy water from the Buddhist ceremony, and pour a half of water from thumbs to fingertips of the bride and the other half to the groom’s hands while wishing the newly wed all the best wishes in their new life together”, states HoangAnh.
Blessing from the Monks
You don’t have to be Buddhist to partake in the ceremony and, in fact, many Western couples choose to have a Buddhist wedding ceremony when they get married in Thailand. It is important to note that although monks may be present during part of the wedding day, a Thai wedding is essentially a non-religious affair and will usually take place in a private home belonging to a relation of either the bride or groom as opposed to a wat or temple. If monks are invited to attend the ceremony it will be to bless the couple and enable them to make merit. “For Thai Buddhists, it is widely believed that donating a merit gift (i.e.money) to the local wat (temple) will ensure a lifetime of love for the marriage. If the groom makes a generous donation to the local wat in the name of the bride’s parents, it shows great respect for both the bride and her family. In some instances, the couple may go to the temple rather than have the monks visit them, but donations and food will still be offered to the monks. If monks are present (there can be 3, 5, 7 or 9 monks), trays are usually placed in front of them to receive the envelopes containing the donations. Making merit is important to Buddhists and it is particularly important on special occasions such as weddings. Inviting monks to the ceremony ensures merit because donations will be made to the monks. Another way that couples can make merit is by granting an animal its freedom. This is typically done by releasing a bird from a cage, or releasing a fish or turtle back into the water”, says HoangAnh.
Flower garlands and rings
In a traditional Thai ceremony, the bride and groom will exchange flower garlands in addition to rings. “The rings symbolize eternal love, the flowers symbolize the fragility and beauty of life. Parents may also bestow flower garlands to the couple as a blessing”, concludes Chonlada.