Updated on: Feb 17, 2024
Thinking about having a Thai wedding ceremony? There are numerous types of wedding ceremonies across the world and all ceremonies can be entirely different because of different cultures within continents, nationalities, religions, and countries. A Thai wedding ceremony is a traditional style wedding ceremony influenced by Buddhism; Buddhist marriages are quite significant in Thai culture.
For many families in general, traditional weddings are very important. Many of our mentions in this blog are for those wanting a more traditional wedding ceremony, and we will bring several Thai wedding traditions to your attention. Within this blog, the steps of a traditional Thai wedding ceremony will be fully explored. It is important to mention that a wedding budget worksheet might come in handy when planning a wedding so you don't overspend.
Thai Wedding Ceremony Traditions
1. The Thai Marriage Proposal
In Thailand, the parents of the bride and groom must be consulted together for enough time. When the groom’s parents agree with their sons choice of a wife, they visit the bride’s parents and ask for her hand in marriage. After both parents agree with their son’s and daughter’s marriage, the bride’s parents negotiate the ‘Sin sod’, which is a dowry that is paid by the groom to the bride’s family. The families then decide the wedding date and hand their wedding invites to family and friends.
2. Thong Mun
"Gold engagement". Within a Thai marriage engagement rings are not required, but giving gold jewelry to the bride is often expected. This is usually done at a ceremony where the whole family is present, to demonstrate the man's love for his wife and his ability to take care of her. When the ceremony is complete, the man and woman are officially "engaged".
3. Choosing the Wedding Date
After both families agree with the marriage, the couple then should choose a date for their wedding. Thais believe that there are favorable dates for planning significant events. Because the wedding is one of the most meaningful events for their lives, couples visit a special monk who is an expert in astrology, for getting a suitable date.
4. Wedding Invitations
Because Thai weddings are related to Buddhism, there is a moment when the monk visits the wedding to bless the couple’s new start. For this reason, the bride and groom invite their relatives and close friends by delivering the invitations in person; however, invitations for the wedding reception can be more casual and a verbal invite can suffice. Along with invitations, there are numerous other wedding ideas that can make your guest's experience exceptional.
5. Honoring the Bride’s Ancestors
This Buddhist ritual usually takes place the night before the wedding. It is a simple ceremony, but the couple pays homage to the bride’s ancestors with sincerity. Honoring the Thai bride's ancestors may include the groom offering money to the temple or even releasing an animal. Then the Buddhist wedding blessing will take place; the Monks will bless the bride and groom in their marriage.
6. Making Merit
Making merit is the most significant step for the wedding. This wedding ritual is influenced by Buddhism, and people believe it calls good things into one’s life. There are various ways to make merit, such as granting an animal its freedom, donating a gift to a local temple, or inviting a monk. For the wedding, people believe donating a merit gift, such as money, to the local temple will ensure the couple's lifetime love for the marriage. If the groom makes a generous donation to the temple in the name of the bride’s parents, it conveys great honor for both the bride and her family.
7. The Thai Wedding Dress
There are six different styles of Thai traditional wedding dress. Some modern couples choose Western-styled outfits, but the traditional dress is still preferred among the culture, to keep the tradition, especially for a traditional wedding ceremony. There aren't any strict rules for colors other than black, which is prohibited to be worn as a wedding dress since the color is seen as "bad luck". Make sure to choose wedding ceremony flowers that match the dress so you keep the same aesthetic throughout.
The Day of the Thai Wedding Ceremony
8. The Wedding Vows
In a traditional Thai wedding, there are no exchanges of vows, but the symbolism is a large part of a Thai wedding for a couple's good luck! If you are going a non-traditional route, Buddhist wedding vows may be a good place to start. Do a search on wedding vows and speeches and see what ideas you can find.
9. Khan Maak Procession
For the Thai wedding, Khan Maak refers to the engagement ceremony. Since the bride and groom discuss the ‘Sin sod’ (dowry), the engagement takes place which includes an offering of gold and gifts for the bride and her family. Then, the groom and his family plan a procession to take the ‘khan maak man’ (items for engagement) on special, traditional trays. In the past, the groom usually would leave his house and walk to the bride’s house.
During the procession, the groom and his family used to sing songs, play instruments with traditional Thai long drums, and have a traveling party; however, this procession has changed. In present times, this ritual takes place on the same day as the wedding these days, and it starts at the place where the bride is staying.
10. Doors/Gates Ceremony
This ceremony is called ‘Sanuk’, and it happens when the groom arrives at the bride’s house during the Khan Maak procession. The groom opens a symbolic door when he is approved of his wealth and sincerity of their wedding by the bride’s family. Each design of the door is different by region, but typical designs are gold and silver. During the ritual, two female members from the bride’s family hold the gate, and the groom passes the gate. When the groom reaches the gate, he needs a ‘key’ to open it.
Money is represented as the ‘key’, and the groom then needs to negotiate the amount with a gate guardian when he needs to pass each gate. After the groom successfully passes each gate, the groom’s family presents a gift to the bride’s family, which includes bananas and sugar plants. Usually, they present the symbolic foods to the bride’s family because the food's nutritional values represent a wealthy and healthy life for them and their offspring. Don't forget to use a wedding ceremony checklist so nothing gets overlooked!
11. Sai Monkhon
This wedding ritual is the heart of the wedding ceremony and is conducted by an elder family member from the bride’s family or a respectful senior from the community, who can recognize the successful marriage. During this ritual, the couple wears traditional Thai clothes, and sit or kneel next to each other in front of the elder. They then put their arms on the small table and hold their hands together in a prayer position.
After they set their position, the elder places a traditional string headpiece, which is called “Mong Kol”, on the head of both bride and groom. For the ritual, the string headpiece must be made out of one piece of cotton. Its length symbolizes the rest of the couple’s life.
12. Rod Nam Sang
‘Rod Nam Sang’ means ‘Shell Ceremony’, which occurs during the Sai Monkhon. While the groom and bride sit together with ‘Mong Kol’ on both of their heads, each guest pours holy water over their hands by using a conch shell (‘Sang’ refers to shell, and ‘Rod Nam’ means to soak with water). The guests also give their advice to the couple in the shell ceremony. When the guests pour holy water, they are wishing the couple a successful marriage and delightful life.
13. Phiti Bai Sri Su Kwan
‘Phiti Bai Sri Su Kwan’ is known as ‘White Thread Ceremony’. Both the bride and groom sit next to each other, and the elder blesses their marriage. After the elder’s word, they link their wrists with ‘Mong Kol’ and soak them in holy water until it tears. After the Mong Kol is torn, whichever person has the longest thread piece is the one whose "sincerity is the deepest".
14. The Thai Wedding Reception
After all wedding rituals are completed, there usually is a wedding reception or party to eat and mingle together with guests. It is up to the couples preference, they have their reception be a simple gathering at a smaller table or a huge party with games and dancing.
15. Preparing the Bridal Bed
This step rare in today’s modern life but still occurs in the rural area of Thailand. It is called the bedding ceremony. After all steps of the wedding ceremony are finished, including the reception, the Thai bride and groom are escorted to the bridal bed. In the bedroom, an older married couple would greet the new married couple with symbolic items. By meeting the older married couple then shows the path of their long and successful marriage to the newly married couple. The most common symbolic item is a bag of rice and coins, representing prosperity and fertility for their further marriage life.
A Thai wedding is a traditional wedding ceremony passed down from ancestors. In today’s contemporary life, younger generations from Thailand might not prefer the traditional wedding style, but it is a respectful way to show ethnicity to both families of the bride and groom. Moreover, this kind of traditional wedding style might be more unique and special for the newly married couple. We hope you and your partner have a fantastic wedding and hope you found this blog useful! Don't forget to check back with us at https://easyeventplanning.com/local-vendors when planning future events.
Written by: Sunga (Wendy) Kim; Contributor: Avery Patterson