As a wedding ceremony symbolises the celebration of everlasting love, every wedding day should create a lifetime of memories as well. For those looking to say ‘I do’ in an exotic setting surrounded by family and friends, creative Thai style nuptials in one of Thailand’s four distinctive regions offer both romance and adventure. So here’s our Four Regions and a Wedding: Guide to Weddings in Thailand.
Northern Style: ‘Mat Mue’ Tradition
A traditional ‘Lanna’ style wedding, or ‘Mat Mue’ (tying hands) ceremony, in the Northern Thai style was a simple ceremony rooted in self-sufficiency. It started with senior relatives of both families joining in a morning merit-making ceremony. After the wedding, both parties hosted a ‘Bai Sri’ ritual where the bride and groom’s hands are tied, coins in the amount of nine Baht, 12 Baht, 21 Baht or 99 Baht (amount varies depending on individual belief) are placed in individual ‘Bai Sri’ bowls to ensure prosperity.
The ‘Mat Mue’ ceremony also freed the groom from having to save money for a traditional ‘Sin Sot‘, or dowry when asking for a bride’s hand in marriage. There was also no need for expensive costumes; the only restriction was the engaged couple agreed not to consummate the union prior to their wedding ceremony. Ancestor worship remained important with both families paying respect to deceased relatives with offerings of food depending on the beliefs of each village or area.
Presently, the ‘Mat Mue’ tradition has become less apparent, as younger generations prefer to blend them with more modern Central Region style wedding rituals.
Northeastern Style: ‘Kin Dong’ Tradition
A Northeastern or ‘Isan’ style wedding ceremony is known as ‘Kin Dong’ in the local dialect. Kin Dong refers to the beginning of a new life for couples, as they welcome relatives into the family.
It traditionally began with ancestor worship on the groom’s side with offerings of food, alcohol, tobacco and betel nut to inform them he would be joining another family. Meanwhile, another offering of food and the like was prepared by the groom to propose to the bride’s family inclusive of negotiating the ‘Sin Sot‘, or dowry amount when asking for her hand in marriage.
After the proposal, the Kin Dong ceremony begins in the main room or ‘Hong Peng’ with a Buddhist alter placed on a wall facing east. Another round of offerings is prepared by the groom including food, the ‘Sin Sod‘ and ‘Bai Sri’ bowls. Meanwhile the bride prepares an offering of silk clothes, Khao Ma cloth, silk blouses to pay respect to the groom’s grandparents and older relatives.
Finally, the couple pays respect to the Buddha and pretends to consummate the marriage on the honeymoon bed thus completing the Kin Dong ceremony. The newlyweds then join the wedding reception party where a feast of food, drink and music ensures a good time is had by all.
Southern Style: Multicultural Mix
Cultural customs and family formalities come together in the Southern region of Thailand’s wedding mix, offering another whole layer of local fun. Here are a couple of examples of multicultural Southern Thai style weddings.
Phuket ‘Baba’ (Peranakan) Style Wedding
The ‘Baba’ (Peranakan) wedding culture is not just native to Phuket; it is also found in Malaysia and Singapore. The ‘Peranakan’, or Straits Chinese people, are also known in Phuket as ‘Baba’ and their annual mass Phuket Baba wedding festival brings back memories of the glory days of the region’s tin mining industry. Visitors can replicate the experience and marry in the same style in one of Phuket’s timeless Sino-Portuguese mansions located in the Old Town. Those looking to splash out can also include colourful street celebrations decorated with red lanterns, a lively parade or lion dance and more. Guests will be fascinated by this wedding ritual steeped in history and culture, plus it makes for fantastic wedding photos.
Thai Muslim Wedding
A Thai Muslim wedding could take the form of a traditional Muslim wedding with religious rites, and could then be followed by a non-religious ceremony depending on what is required by the family or the groom. This example could take the form of having a ceremony in Phuket, Ko Samui or other regions where a mosque and Imam are present. Should one of the parties not be Muslim, an Imam would have to ordain the non-Muslim into the faith at a local mosque.
Central Region: Bangkok-style Wedding
Central Region weddings are flexible by nature and can incorporate regional styles of any region in the proceedings. Bangkok is the obvious choice because of its dual international airports and international quality infrastructure. The romantic seaside twin cities of Cha-am and Hua Hin are also popular alternatives for those looking to get away from the city.
When Thais plan to marry (to another Thai or foreigner) and dream of Thailand for weddings and honeymoons, they look for ‘an auspicious time’ by consulting a monk or astrologer to determine the most auspicious day. The couple’s birthdays and time of birth are needed for the calculation. Astrologers use lunar calendars to fix auspicious days for weddings, journeys, new house dedication, or similarly important life occasions.
Timing is not everything when it comes to a destination wedding in one of Thailand’s four regions, but it should be a decision that lasts a lifetime and might be the best idea you have ever had. Hence, the DWP Congress 2017 delegates were here in May to explore Thailand as a dream wedding destination.