Getting Married in Thailand
Couples interested in an exotic destination wedding may want to consider getting married in Thailand, where they can enjoy a rich cultural history, amazing architectural beauty, and a welcoming atmosphere that will begin their happily ever after with grace and elegance.
Thailand is an independent nation in Southeast Asia with a widely varied geography that includes rugged mountains, lush jungles, and sensuous beaches. The country has had an embattled history but depends heavily on tourism for economic prosperity, and because of this visitors are welcome and couples will find many options for their Thailand wedding celebration. The country's official language is Thai but there are many English speaking guides available to assist couples. Services will need to be paid in the local currency, the baht, but other currencies can easily be exchanged.
Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Thailand
The first step for a successful wedding in Thailand is to ensure the ceremony results in a legal marriage. While many resorts are happy to arrange festivities without the legal arrangements, a certain amount of paperwork is necessary for the union to be legally recognized.
Couples will need their valid passports as well as their birth certificates to present to the appropriate officials. If either party has been married before, official divorce papers or a death certificate must also be provided. If either the bride or groom is younger than 21, a parental letter of consent may also be required. All of these documents must be presented in person to the appropriate embassy for authentication. Once that authorization is approved (which usually takes a day), the authenticated paperwork must be presented at the local district office where the marriage is to be performed. Approval from that office can take another day or two, and hotels that arrange wedding packages are usually able to help with these legal necessities. As a matter of course, documents must be translated between the couple's native language and Thai.
To be safe, it is recommended that a couple arrive in Thailand at least three days prior to their wedding date to ensure they can get all the legal matters taken care of, though if there are public holidays or if the offices are unusually busy, the process may take up to a week. Fees for these legal requirements are relatively modest but can vary depending on how quickly the documents must be returned and the nationalities of the bride and groom.
Planning a Thailand Wedding
Despite the popularity of Thailand destination weddings, there are few independent wedding planners in the country. Instead, most couples who plan to wed in Thailand investigate resort and hotel wedding packages where many different details are conveniently included. For help planning a wedding in Thailand, visit these event planners and popular wedding resorts:
Where to Wed
Thailand is a beautiful country and there are many luxury resorts available to arrange weddings, honeymoons, or romantic getaways. Popular locations for getting married in Thailand include:
- Bangkok, the nation's capital
- Chiang Mai
- Hua Hin
- Koh Chang
Among these and many other fabulous destinations, couples can choose from pristine beaches, islands, waterfalls, rainforests, gardens, and other beautiful venues for their wedding ceremony. For even more convenience, most resorts do not require that a couple be guests on the property in order to arrange a wedding, though couples who do stay at the hotel may be able to take advantage of discount offers and packages.
Types of Ceremonies
Most resorts are able to arrange several types of wedding ceremonies for couples to choose from. Classic Western or American style weddings are a familiar and popular option, though many couples prefer to incorporate Thailand's rich traditions into their festivities with either a Thai-themed wedding or a traditional Thai ceremony. Non-secular celebrations can also be arranged, and most resorts can help couples manage details for other faiths as well.
Depending on the type of wedding ceremony a couple is interested in, they may be able to choose from a wide range of features for their special day, including:
- Flowers, including a bridal bouquet and groom's boutonnière
- Reception catering services with a wide menu selection
- Wedding cake preparation
- Hair and makeup appointments
- A flower girl
- Prearranged office appointments for the legal requirements
- Spa treatments for the bride and groom
- Airport transfers and other transportation
- Traditional Thai dance performances
- A traditional Thai drum procession
- Blessings from Buddhist monks
The cost of these features varies by resort and also depends on the amount of detail necessary, the number of anticipated guests, and the preparation time available. Many resorts offer wedding packages for foreigners for as little as $1,500, though hotel stays and transportation to and from Thailand are not included.
When getting married in a foreign country, it is always wise to be aware of potential problems. Several items to note in Thailand are:
- Monsoon Season: During the spring and summer months, Thailand is often beset with heavy rains and storms that can make planning outdoor weddings a challenge.
- Bodily Taboos: Touching someone's head in Thailand can be considered offensive because the head is the sacred body part. Conversely, the feet are considered foul and dirty, and great care should be taken not to point feet at anyone or to step over someone's possessions.
- Religion: Buddhism is the dominant religion in Thailand and couples should familiarize themselves with the basic tenets of the faith prior to visiting the country, particularly if they plan on sightseeing to Buddhist temples or including traditional blessings during their ceremony.
Getting married in Thailand may seem like a challenge, but because of the country's welcoming nature and the prevalence of luxury resorts, it can be easier than couples may assume, making Thailand the perfect destination wedding location for an exotic, memorable event.