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Marriage in Thailand: Different Religions

Marriage in Thailand

A foreigner taking a Thai lady’s or another foreigner’s hand in marriage may solemnize their vows in different style or theme. In Thailand, you can choose your own wedding theme and style. As more expats are coming to Thailand for marriage registration, Thailand wedding can actually be tailored-fit in accordance to one’s culture, religious belief or personal preference. The legal part of the marriage registration which is meeting the requirements and registration of the marriage at a Register Office is different from the actual marriage celebration. Legally speaking, once a marriage held in Thailand is registered at an Amphur, a valid marriage certificate can be obtained, giving power to the marriage held in Thailand as legal and binding.

Prior to setting a wedding in Thailand, make sure that all legal requirements are in place before taking the plunge. You can seek for help on a full-service law firm with English and Thai speaking lawyers that can assist you with all the documents and legal matters before and after the wedding.

Traditional Thai Wedding

A traditional Thai wedding is a day-long affair, consists of colorful and symbolic rituals of a unique Thai culture. Rituals are usually light-hearted, accompanied with a lot of teasing and laughters.

A Buddhist ceremony is held before the wedding day, during which the couple pay respect to bridal ancestry. In the morning, of the Thai wedding there will be a Monk Blessing. Nine (9) monks will be present during this occasion, sitting with water in before them. Monks will shower the holy water onto the guests of the wedding. Sitting next to the first monk on an altar, would be the holy water holding a candle inside of it. A holy thread will be kneaded around the bride, groom, and into the monk’s hand. The holy thread which strung circularly around the bride and the groom symbolizes unison together. Trays of small dishes are placed before each monk where prayers will be said. The 9 monks will chant, pray and bless the couple. The monks will be served a meal and offered donations. Each monk is given money inside of an envelope. After the monk’s repeated prayers, they will return to their temple.

The next stage would be the engagement ritual, performed during the wedding day itself. This is called “Khan maak procession”. The groom and his family form a procession carrying an offering of gold and gifts or khan maak man (items for engagement) placed on special trays. The procession is led by musicians and an entourage who dances all the way to the bride’s home.

After the khan maak procession would be the door ceremony or the “sanuk”. This is held at the bride’s home. In this ritual, the groom will try to open several gates by offering gifts or specific amount of money being asked for by the gate guardians. The symbolic doors or gates must be opened by the groom to prove that he is worthy and financially capable of caring for his bride. In order for the groom to open gates towards the bridal house, the groom must provide a gift before opening each gate. A gift becomes more extravagant with each gate opened. After successfully passing through all the gates, he and his family present the engagement gifts and dowry to the bride’s family.

Afterwards, a “feet-washing ceremony” will be held. The groom is to stand upon a chair, with his bride bowing below him, washing his feet which symbolizes her respect for him. While this is happening, the dowry is presented to the guests showing that the groom can financially support his new wife. Traditionally, the dowry is returned to the newlyweds.

The last and the final ceremony of a traditional Thai wedding would be the “shell ceremony”. The couple will hold hands and kneel upon a pedestal before an elder. Guests of the wedding will sprinkle holy water out of a shell onto the couple’s hands while saying their words, as well as handing them a money filled envelope. Upon receiving this, the couple will give the guests in return a small keepsake for the wedding.

In the afternoon of the wedding day, the Rod-Nam-Sang is celebrated. The bride and groom sits together on the floor each with their hands held in wai-style and connected by a chain of flowers. The most senior relative starts by dipping the couple’s hands in a conch shell filled with water followed by the couple’s parents and other selected people. The guests then give their gifts to the couple by placing an envelope (usually containing money) in a basket.

With the newlyweds sitting next to each other, an elder blesses the wedding. White threads are then linked to the wrists, soaked with water and torn on the side. The one having the longest piece is said to be the one who is in love the deepest. Finally, a white string or sai sinis tied around the wrists of each of the newlyweds as a sign of good luck.

Christian Wedding

If you wish to hold a traditional Christian wedding in a tropical paradise of Thailand, be with a Thai fiancée or a foreign partner, Siam Legal can do the wedding and legal arrangements for you. Christian weddings in Thailand takes many forms, it could be Catholic, Episcopal or Pentecostal wedding. You can choose your own type of Christian wedding in Thailand.

Catholic

Catholic weddings in Thailand is usually held in the morning (at dawn) or in the late afternoon (at dusk). Traditionally Catholic weddings would commence with a Nuptial Mass and couples are usually encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony. Catholic wedding in Thailand is under the Sacrament of matrimony, which is one of the seven sacraments. A typical Catholic wedding is held in a Catholic church and consists of a worship service attended by the couple, their family and friends. You can choose wedding venue such as a beautiful beach in Phuket or a hilltop in Chiang Mai. Your choice of location for your wedding is entirely yours. There would be three biblical readings. exchange of vows and wedding rings. Catholic priest bestows his blessing to the couple through prayers and music. The couple will be binded through marriage before their families and friends. Envisage as your perfect Catholic wedding in Thailand and Siam legal will make it happen for you.

Requirements:

For the Catholic wedding to be set in a diocese, the couple has to provide requirements such as baptismal certificates and seminar card. The importance of this would be for each party to promise that their children and their partners would continue in the Catholic faith and continue their Catholic values.

Protestant

Protestant can further be classified into Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans. There might be slight difference in terms of rituals, holding the ceremony and wedding procedure for each Protestant group. A Protestant wedding is usually consisted of songs, prayers and Christian readings and an exchange of vows between the bride and the groom as they proclaim the Lordship of Jesus.

Protestant Church Requirements

For the marriage to be held in a Protestant church, couple just need to present letter of affirmation of freedom to get married, so as the original copy of divorce decree or death certificate (in case of previous spouse’s death. Speak to a reputable attorney in Thailand for assistance to your marriage registration.

Episcopal Church Requirements

The Episcopal Church has their own requirements such as at least one of the parties being a baptized Christian. The wedding has to be witnessed and comply with the canons of the Episcopal Church. Episcopal Church canons includes there must be at least 30 days notice of the intended wedding. The priest must obtain permission from the Bishop to perform the wedding ceremony if one of the parties has been married before. Divorce papers or death certificates would also be required for your marriage registration to an Episcopal church so make sure you bring them with you to Thailand.

Steps:

  1. Schedule the date of your intended marriage.
  2. The priest needs to be notified of the date and everything needs to be scheduled.

  3. Counselling prior to the wedding
  4. The Episcopal Church requires that both parties receive counselling before the wedding to prepare you for a life long journey. In view of the language difficulties, we will provide you with a translator.

  5. Officiates attending the wedding
  6. A bishop or a priest may preside over the wedding these ministers alone would have the power of pronouncing the rights of blessing, and of celebrating the Holy Eucharist. When both a bishop and the Priest are presiding over the service, the bishop should pronounce the blessing and preside at the Eucharist. A deacon, or a priest, may deliver service, asking for the Declaration of Consent, read the Gospel, as well as other assist with other functions at the Eucharist.

Chinese Wedding

Chinese wedding is popular in Thailand, especially amongst the Thai Chinese. Chinese Wedding ceremonies are usually intricate, very elaborate and such a long process, starting from preparation for the wedding, to the actual wedding banquet. Chinese wedding ceremony varies from family to family, each part of the ceremony however is surely symbolic and important to the marriage itself.

Prior to the Wedding

As part of the preparation for wedding day includes the bride to be retreating to a secluded part of the house with only her closest of friends. She will then sing, mourning the separation from her family that she is to experience. This often takes place in a cockloft, which is commonly referred to as “coming out of the cock loft” when the bride emergences on her wedding day.

As for the groom, he must prepare the bridal bedon a day before the wedding. A man or women do the installing of a newly purchased bed at a promising hour. After the bed is intact, children are invited onto to it as an omen of fertility. More children make the omen stronger and more fertile. The bed is also scattered with fruits such as peanuts, seeds, and oranges.

Another part of a Chinese wedding ritual would be initiating the bride and groom into adulthood. The bride will experience a Hair Dressing Ritual, whereas the groom will experience the Capping Ritual.

The Hair Dress Ritual occurs at dawn, the day of the wedding, or on the night previous to the wedding day. The bride is to bathe in water that contains pomelo, to cleanse her of any evil spiritual influences. This will also soften her skin for her wedding. Afterwards, she will sit before already lit dragon-and-phoenix candles. A ‘good luck woman’ will attend this ritual, preparing the bride’s hair while speaking words in the style of a married woman. When the hair is styled for the wedding, the bride can then come out of her seclusion, being carried on the back of the ‘good luck woman.’ Wearing a pair of red shoes, which symbolizes joy, she will also wear a skirt and jacket. Her face is to be covered with a red veil hung from the bridal Phoenix crown.

The Capping Ritual begins with the groom wearing a long gown accompanied with red shoes and a silk sash, which is symbolizing joy. The groom is to kneel at the families altar, as his father places a cypress leave-decorated cap onto his head. The groom will bow for the Heaven and Earth, as well as any of his ancestors, parents, and other attending family members. After this, the father will place his silk ball from the groom’s sash onto the sedan bridal chair.

When the capping and hair dressing rituals are out of the way, thus begins obtaining the bride by the groom. You will know when this process begins when you hear loud gongs and drums; this announces the groom leading the procession, normally with a child, symbolizing his future sons. Together with the small child, the groom will also be accompanied with the sedan bridal chair, wedding guests, musicians, etc. When the groom and the rest of his party arrive at the bride’s house, they must please the bride’s party with red pouches of money, reaching an agreement so as the bride’s party will surrender her to the groom.

Muslim Wedding

Muslim wedding can also be held in Thailand. You could choose among Thailand’s beautiful locations to hold your wedding: be it the pristine beaches or tropical paradise.

In a traditional Muslim wedding, the groom’s family will search a bride for him. Religious rites will be held during the ceremony. Should both the bride and the groom be of Muslim religion, the bride’s family, agreeing to the marriage, must provide a letter. At the Mosque, the letter will be presented signifying legally the process of the Muslim wedding. The Imam would hold the Muslim wedding in a Mosque. The dowry will be presented before the wedding with a note produced of the occasion, signed by witnesses who were present. The bride’s parents must accept dowry negotiations before the marriage is held. Before the wedding papers are signed at the Muslim wedding, and the traditional procedures being completed, the groom must repeat verses from the Holy Koran with which everyone has agreed to, religiously.

Secular Wedding (Personal Wedding)

A secular wedding is your own original, individually-planned and tastefully-designed theme wedding. It is a modern-day wedding where a couple can let their creativity transpire in their very own dream wedding ceremony. Secular wedding or theme wedding can be held in a thousand lovely wedding destinations in Thailand. It could vary from the hot and sunny beaches of Phuket, to lively and colorful town Pattaya, or the lush garden of mountainous Chiang Mai, or a five-star hotel, or an exquisite ballroom. You could choose your theme be it elegant, casual, secret garden, or fairydust wedding.

The couple could pick up a perfect setting and of course the wedding theme. Secular wedding is for a romantic bride or an artistic groom finding the realization of their dreams in a beautiful and serene Thailand’s landscape.