Thai Traditional Wedding Ceremony – Counting the Dowry

Thai marriage at large and definitely the ceremony of Traditional Thai Wedding interlinked with an ancient tradition called sinsod (สินสอด). A custom of paying a dowry (dowery) to compensate a family of bride “for mother’s milk”. A concept of sinsod was initially brought in to ensure that one’s daughter does not marry below her potential standing in life. To stipulate that her social, financial and professional status and reputation is preserved and secured.

Traditionally, a downry (สินสอด [sin-sot]) will be formally presented by the groom’s parents to the bride’s parents on the Kan Maak tray. This dowry will consist of money and gold/jewelry. The dowry is then counted out onto a red cloth by the bride’s parents. The amount of the dowry is usually predetermined which is intended to represent prospective wealth for the couple.

There is no set amount, the sum of sinsod is typically determined on the one hand by suitor’s perceived wealth, and on the other hand by the “value” of the future wife. Her beauty, personality, background, education and other qualifications, if she is a virgin, or has got a child, and so forth.

Nowadays, many parents-in-law hand the dowry back to the married couple as a wedding gift, some families do not require a dowry, and some need to keep the money. Traditionally, sinsod is reciprocated by the parents-in-law. More often than not, a part of the money is used to pay for the wedding ceremonies, parties and other related expenses. Dowries or sinsod payments range from THB 50,000 to 250,000 and up.

The ceremony I attended the sinsod was 1,000,199 Baht together with a car and a house. Thai people believe that number 9 brings good luck, so they like to set the sinsod amount ending with number 9.

 

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21 Responses to Thai Traditional Wedding Ceremony – Counting the Dowry

  1. peter 13/02/2016 at 14:14 #

    hi mod

    i have been with my gf for 3.5 years and its time to marry her, she comes from a small village about 1 hour drive from Nong Kai

    she was married to a foreigner for 5 years and lived with him in the UK, they have a son who lives with his father. the sons father bought the parents a farm and my gf a house in khon kaen, i am not sure how much money was paid for sin sot

    my gf has a decent job and earns 30,000 baht per month i got her the job

    since we have been going out i have bought cars and motorbikes for my gf and spent a lot of money furnishing the home and insurance and repairs. I bought an engagement ring for $1000usd 2 years ago

    i have also given about 100,000 thb to her family to buy rubber trees for the farm and given money to them on occasions

    my gf was educated in Khon kaen at university

    please could you give me some idea of how much i need to consider as sin sot and any other costs i should be aware of

    my gf mother is going to ask for 500,000 or more i think and i just need to be aware of the local culture and thougths

    thanks

    • Mod 16/02/2016 at 10:28 #

      Sawatdee ka Peter,

      Congratulations in your wedding in advance! 🙂

      Sin Sod is truly a sensitive matter. I am afraid I am not able to guide you how much the amount of the dowry should be. It should be the discussion between you and your girlfriend’s parents – talk openly to find a suitable agreement for both ways. 🙂

      I wish you all the best,
      Mod

  2. Lester Cullen 02/11/2015 at 09:30 #

    Hi Mod,
    If the girl asks me to marry her and she has not lived at home for at least 10 years is it still expected that I pay a dowry
    Coming from a western culture I find it very difficult to pay a dowry of $15-20000.00 plus up to 10 bars of gold when the girl asks me to marry her.
    Thankyou
    Lester

    • Mod 23/11/2015 at 15:17 #

      I understand that this matter is sensitive. Nowadays this tradition is flexible. You can discuss or negotiate with the bride’s family to find most suitable agreement for both ways. Best wishes.

  3. Martin 20/05/2014 at 02:45 #

    In my country it’s tradition that the wife to be pays the dowry to the husband as an appreciation for the on coming years he will provide for her. My daughter was able to offer her flat to her husband to be as part of the marriage agreement which she worked hard to pay for.
    In these modern times to share the responsibilities of living together is by fat the most acceptable arrangement in my opinion as times have changed, tradition is but a romantic memory

  4. faizal mir ishak 04/05/2014 at 08:38 #

    Hi Khun Mod,

    how’s the dowry is given. is the dowry is being divide into group of people or how was it.

    if an example that the bridge is educated in malaysia and now serve in malaysia what are the figures that the person to married her have to look at ?

    the budget to held a wedding in thailand wouldn’t be an issue as we can check the hotels around but the dowry is abit of topic.

    • Mod 02/06/2014 at 22:33 #

      Sawatdee ka Faizal,

      First of all, apologies for my late reply. Traditionally, the dowry was given to the bride’s parents but now it is often given back to the married couple if the parents don’t want to keep it. As for the amount of the dowry, it is the discussion between the groom and the bride’s family. There is no guideline for it.
      Congratulation on you wedding. 🙂

  5. Steve 09/09/2013 at 05:45 #

    Hi Khun Mod,

    A question about the amount of 1,000,199. I understand the meaning of 9 and success; however, I thought that the amount should be even amount example 1,900,000 or 900,000 or 90,000. Is that a Thai belief on the use of the amounts of sin sod?

    I too wish to thank you for this article and all of the lessons you put on youtube.

    • Mod 09/09/2013 at 12:56 #

      Sawatdee ka kun Steve,

      The amount actually should be odd number; for example 999,999 or 1,999,999. Yes, it is a Thai belief on the use of Sin Sod amounts. Thank you for reading my article and following my lessons. I am happy to hear that you found them useful:)

  6. Ashok 20/06/2013 at 05:28 #

    Dear Mod,

    Again, very interesting articles. A similar Hindu tradition of dowry is very prevalent all across India — with a twist to this Thai custom. The parents of the bride pay the dowry to the groom’s family!! Very paternalistic society! It is still going on even amongst upscale and professional families. Many young men are now refusing to put the bride’s parents under such financial strain. The number ‘1’ is considered auspicious amongst Hindus and so most of the times the sum ends with a ‘1″. Very similar customs… Nice to learn cultural aspects of Thai society along with the language. Your English is very good! Thanks for posting

  7. Lat 03/07/2012 at 19:27 #

    How much exactly you think your parents will ask for you? (please note that the guy is not so rich but very nice) Do you think they will return anything? Whats your dream honeymoon? How many childeren do you want to have?

  8. Michel 03/07/2012 at 18:46 #

    A part of the difference City/Countryside is the dowry system the same in all
    4 regions of Thailand or is it mostly in Isaan?
    If it works also in the South, your husband must have paid a high dowry! 555

    • Mod 03/07/2012 at 19:05 #

      ํYes, it is the same throughout the country:)

      • Rojhat 08/12/2013 at 13:19 #

        Must we pay her family for get marry?

  9. richie 30/06/2012 at 20:47 #

    sawat dee krup, very interesting blog mod, can i ask what are your ideas on this ? obviously you are thai but do you think in this day and age its still a good gesture or is it something which is a bit dated now ? are you married, if not would you use this tradition on your wedding day?

    • Mod 03/07/2012 at 18:32 #

      This is my opinion : Dowry payments are a long tradition in Thai and other cultures. This is now slowly changing and in some families the dowry payment is only part of the wedding ceremony and often the monies are returned back to the couple. In each case this is naturally a discussion between the family and the couple i.e. whether a dowry payment is needed, and if it is, how the situation is handled. In case the family insists on the dowry payment, everyone needs to make their own assessment about the situation and circumstances related to the marriage.Unfortunately there is no simple yes/no type answer I can offer, but you need to use common sense and listen to your heart to see if all the elements around you are supporting what you want to achieve. 🙂

      • Rojhat 08/12/2013 at 13:16 #

        Sawadee krub i have thai gf i want TO get marry with her what ı have TO do can you help me

        • Mod 08/12/2013 at 22:56 #

          Sawatdee ka Rojhat, I think you can purpose her like usual and ask a permission from her parents. Congratulations on your wedding in advance! 🙂

        • Mod 08/12/2013 at 23:11 #

          Sawatdee ka Rojhat, I think you can propose marriage to your girlfriend like usual and ask a permission from her parents. Congratulations on your wedding in advance! 🙂

  10. David 16/02/2012 at 00:36 #

    You’re great mak mak, Love to read little things like this. Very interesting and relative to learning a new language.

  11. Bryan 27/12/2011 at 08:02 #

    Hey Mod, I appreciate your blog.

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