A Thai wedding is essentially a non-religious event that is usually hosted at a private location instead of a wat or temple. This was the case for Jonathan and Nong who married at the Puka Boutique Resort outside of Chiang Mai. Here is a short tour of our friends’ wedding.
The Wedding Bed
A Thai wedding is certainly different than a traditional American wedding.
Yes, we inspected the wedding bed, covered in rose petals, before the newly wed couple consummated their marriage. The wedding guests followed the couple up to the room to insure it was ready. Once there, the parents tested out the bed and offered guidance (their presence symbolizing a long and successful marriage). Then the guests (and parents) departed leaving the couple to do what they needed to do.
But I am getting ahead of myself…
The ceremony started with all the groom’s friends and family being kicked off the property (Yes, we were directed to leave). Assembling outside the property gate we assembled in a procession (referred to as the ‘khan maak man’ (‘items for engagement’)) behind the groom and his parents (played by his eldest brother and his wife), the party sang and danced with musical accompaniment while bringing gifts for the bride and her family. The gifts included platters of money (the dowry or ‘sin sod’ – used in part to demonstrate financial stability of the groom and his ability to care for his new wife and potentially her family), sugar and banana plants to symbolize fertility and provide for the new couple, and assorted other gifts. We hoped the gifts would be enough to permit the wedding to take place. Had Jonathan emptied his entire back account?
But alas, the gifts were not the only requirement. We were not allowed to join the wedding event until the groom passed through gates that proved his love and his worth for his bride. Most Thai weddings have 2 gates, but Jonathan’s bride was not playing any games, she demanded that her love pass through 5 gates. The last gate required a “crowd size” verbal declaration of his love …. In the Thai language. For our American groom, all his practice of the Thai phrase did not quite render it perfect, which brought peals of laughter from the Thai guests… and so with a smile the rest of the ceremony began.
Numerous little ceremonies entwined to show the love of family and friends and their blessings on the new couple.
The shell cermony (“Rod Nam Sang”) where close friends and family each offer a blessing while pouring water from a delicate gold gilded shell over the hands of the groom and then the bride.
The thread ceromony or “sai sin”, where family and friends each tie a white string around the wrist of both the bride and groom, wishing them luck.
Both serious and humorous, the wedding was a wonderful event and we were honored to be a part of the day.
For more insight on the Traditional Thai Wedding: http://www.watdee.com/traditional-thai-wedding.html