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Traditional Thai Weddings, Marriage in Thailand

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Traditional Thai Weddings, Marriage in Thailand

There are many different aspects to a traditional Thai wedding, but not all of these traditions are maintained today. Consequently, there can be many variations in the basic ceremony which can be as elaborate or as simple as the wedding couple (and their families) want to make it.

Traditions vary in different parts of Thailand so for instance a Thai wedding in the south of Thailand (for example, Phuket) can be very different to a wedding in the north of Thailand (such as Chiang Mai). For marriages in some rural areas and Thai villages ‘upcountry’, there is more chance that many of the old customs, such as ‘preparing the bridal bed’, will be incorporated in the wedding ceremony.

The Thai wedding ceremony is essentially non-religious despite the fact that monks may be present. No vows are made but there is a large amount of symbolism to ensure good luck for the newly-weds. Not surprisingly, the engagement ceremony must take place before the wedding although for practicality and to save money, some couples may hold it on the same day as the wedding (see khan maak procession below).

Paying Homage to the Bride’s Ancestors This is a Buddhist ceremony that usually takes place the night before the wedding. It’s quite a simple ceremony and the couple wear everyday clothes, but the principle is that the couple are honouring the bride’s ancestors. Buddhist Blessing and Merit Making You don’t have to be Buddhist to partake in the ceremony and, in fact, many Western couples also elect to have a Buddhist wedding ceremony when they marry in Thailand.

 

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Traditional Thai Weddings, Marriage 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.

Performing a Buddhist ceremony does not in itself grant legal status on the marriage. For that to happen, the marriage needs to be registered at the Amphur Office. The wedding day morning will normally begin early (approximately 6-7a.m.) with monks arriving to visit the couple who are to be married. The monks will chant and say prayers whilst a lit candle is placed in a bowl of water.

Traditional Thai Weddings, Marriage in Thailand

Traditional Thai Weddings, Marriage in Thailand

Traditional Thai Weddings, Marriage in Thailand


Traditional Thai Weddings, Marriage in Thailand

This lustral water is then used later to bless the couple. A bowl of white paste may also be blessed which will be used later to anoint the foreheads of the bride and groom. The wedding couple and their relatives offer food to the monks before leaving the room to allow the monks to eat. Nobody else is permitted to eat until the monks have finished their meal. After their meal, the monks will begin their chants again and the senior monk will bless the couple, and everybody present, with holy water.

The monks then return to the temple. 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.

Depending on how the wedding day has been arranged, the khan maak and doors ceremony often follows next.


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