What comes to your mind when you think of a Thai wedding? Perhaps the idea of a pretty wedding dress and cascading flowers flying in the air. Or, maybe you think of a grand, ancient Thai temple that has been passed on to the family for generations.
The Thai people have many traditions and rituals that span far beyond weddings. However, the wedding is the most prominent public display of Thai culture in the modern world.
Thai people love to entertain. Most areas of Thailand have a plethora of activities like singing and dancing that one can choose to enjoy daily.
As a result, when it comes to Thai wedding traditions and rituals, people are more than willing to conduct various activities to keep the bride and groom entertained throughout the ceremony.
11 Thai Wedding Traditions and Rituals
So, what exactly is involved in Thai wedding traditions and rituals?
If you have plans for a Thai wedding or are simply curious about what kind of activities might be conducted, you are in the right place.
Let’s take a look at the main actions.
1. The Marriage Proposal in Thailand.
You want to marry a Thai woman, but you have no idea how to go about practicing the proposal. Here’s what happens in most parts of Thailand.
In the past, it was common for parents to make the necessary arrangements for their children regarding marriage. Parents of both parties would undergo thorough consultation before proceeding with the wedding. This allowed couples to set a fair deal for the bride and groom before agreeing to the marriage.
However, as times have changed and people have become more specialized, these marriages are not very common. As such, grooms are responsible for choosing the bride they want to marry. Once the groom’s parents concur with their son’s choice, they will consult the bride’s parents and ask them if they have any objection to the marriage.
If things go well, the bride’s parents will proceed to negotiate dowry, commonly known as Sin Sod. This is the amount of money or other goods to be given to the bride’s parents as a token of their appreciation for letting their daughter marry their son.
2. Selecting a Favorable Wedding Date.
Through the process of making wedding arrangements, the bride and groom’s parents will have to decide on a favorable date for the wedding. Thais have a particular belief that they should allocate favorable dates to important events like weddings. Well, isn’t that what we want for our special days?
Auspicious days for weddings tend to be selected according to the Thai’s astrological signs. Most Thai people believe in astrology, especially when choosing a favorable wedding date for both the bride and groom. They will consult a monk or an astrology specialist to decide the most suitable date.
3. Invitations for the Wedding.
Thai weddings are more than just simple ceremonies. Thais’ extravagantly celebrate weddings. Couples will do everything possible to make their wedding as grand and spectacular as possible.
Since several ceremonies occur during a Thai wedding, the couple may give different invites to each of them. However, if all events are set to take place at the same venue, the couple may invite all their guests at once unless they want specific people, like close relatives, to witness particular events alone.
According to Thai wedding traditions, invitations should be delivered by hand by any member of the two families.
4. Giving Honor to the Bride’s Ancestors and Making Merit.
Traditionally, Thais must make merit before conducting any critical event. This is important because doing this will always attract the best things in life. There are several ways to do this, and some of them include:
- Donating a certain amount of money to the temple
- Releasing animals
- Offering food in the morning
All these will gain merit. When one gains merit through these actions, they will be blessed with the right things in life and will gain good fortune. In the case of wedding ceremonies, families must invite various monks to offer merit to the bride’s ancestors and grant blessings to the bride and groom.
The monks will be responsible for chanting and giving critical advice to let the newlywed live a long, happy, and prosperous life. In return, the couple’s family will proceed and feed the monks before seeing them off.
It is vital to note that this event may happen separately before the actual wedding date. Nevertheless, most individuals conduct this important event on the wedding day, especially if it is a home wedding.
5. The Wedding Dress.
Many people today are confused about the meaning of Thai wedding dress. For them, it seems crazy to wear a traditional dress that is also fancy and different from what they wear almost every day.
Although modern couples have embraced the western culture of adorning themselves in a white dress, most Thai people still love to wear traditional attire on their wedding day.
The Thai bridal dress is diverse, and brides will have different styles, about six of them. The dresses are mostly silk, with some exceptions in other materials like lace, satin, chiffon, etc.
Thai brides will have their hair decorated in many different ways too.
The brides may style their hair beautifully with a ponytail adorned with flowers or topped with a special tiara. Depending on the bride, she may wear a veil on her face or, in some cases, none.
6. The Engagement Ceremony.
In Thailand, this critical ceremony is commonly known as the Khan Maak Procession. After the two families have agreed on the bride price, they will start the engagement process.
In the past, it was common for the groom to travel by foot to the bride’s house with one or more of his family members and other friends. They will play various instruments and sing traditional Thai songs as they head to the bride’s home. Those who accompanied the groom would carry the offerings taken to the bride’s house.
All the offering they carry has different meanings. For instance, they can carry flowers of a Betel plant and gold or coins by placing them on the Kan Maak tray. These items signify prosperity, a successful marriage, and happiness, respectively.
In addition, they can carry different foods such as desserts, sweets, fruits and so on. These are also symbols of good luck and prosperity.
However, things have considerably changed since time immemorial. Today, most Thai families will carry out this procession on the streets and end it at a preferred wedding venue.
7. The Gate Approach of the Groom.
When the groom arrives at the lady’s house, he faces another obstacle. The bridesmaids will block his way with several gates in the form of necklaces or a belt of gold, depending on how wealthy the family is. However, these gates do not have to comprise real gold.
For the groom to pass these gates, he must do several things.
- The bride’s family may tell the groom to sing a song or shout a love confession.
- They may tell him to give out money, or
- They may require him to answer specific questions
All these rituals are essential during this time. Today, most grooms will prefer giving money wrapped in envelopes.
After these tasks, the groom will be allowed to meet his bride. In most cases, the bride will wait for the groom in a separate room. Then, when her groom is ready to meet her, she will be presented to her future husband behind closed doors.
8. Presenting the Dowry (Sin Sod).
After the bride’s retrieval, the groom’s parents will proceed and present the dowry to the bride’s parents.
The Thai tradition incorporates using a decorated bowl to hold the dowry, either in the form of money or gifts. The bowl is then handed to the bride’s mother, who will receive it on behalf of her daughter and make a show to pretend the bowl is hefty.
According to tradition, this part is necessary as it portrays the groom’s generosity.
9. Joining by the Thread (Sai Monkhon).
In this event, the couple will sit next to each other with their hands held together. One member of the family, an elderly member, put a traditional headpiece made of cotton on the couple’s heads.
The headpiece must be blessed before the event and signifies unity, happiness, and strength.
10. The Shell Ceremony.
This ceremony is commonly known as Rod Nam Sang. After joining the thread, the guests will now get the chance to bless the couple. Then, the guests will use a special shell and pour water on the couple’s hands.
As they do this, they must wish them well and build a long and prosperous life.
11. The Wedding Reception.
The wedding reception is a significant part of Thai wedding traditions and something that all Thai people look forward to. Here the two families and guests will manage to enjoy food and drinks and share happy moments.
The celebration is always filled with traditional entertainment, songs, dance, and laughter. A Thai wedding can also end with cake cutting and the bride throwing her bouquet, just like any western wedding.