Previously I talked about the beautiful and unique traditional Thai wedding many times. My younger sister just got married and it made me thinking that there are some interesting aspects in the wedding party in Thailand that are worth sharing.
When Thai couples tie the knot, there are two wedding events; traditional Thai ceremony and the wedding party. Some couples do both events in the same day – traditional Thai ceremony in the morning followed by the party in the afternoon or evening. Some couples prefer to do them on a separate day.
I would like to talk about few interesting activities in the wedding party that are different from the western wedding arrangements.
- The Guest list
Thai wedding party is usually large in attendance. I am talking about the number of invited guests between 300-1000 people, especially if it is the wedding of the first child in the family. Parents will invite almost every single person they know; family members, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and of course it includes the immediate family of those guests. The more people the parents and the couple know, the bigger the wedding.
This is due to the Thai custom about ‘face’ – especially if the family has important status in the society. If you don’t invite someone, they will feel insulted and you could lose the relationship with them. Often times the wedding of the children is like a reunion party for the parents.
- The Envelope
Thai people don’t usually give wedding gifts, instead we give cash. When the guest receives the wedding invitation, they will use the envelope of the invitation card to put the cash in. Then when they arrive at the wedding party’s reception, there will be money boxes for the guests to put the cash envelope in. You can also write wishes for the wedding couple in a guest-book prepared at the reception and receive a wedding souvenir.
In case the guest cannot attend the wedding but they have received the wedding invitation, they should also ask someone who is going to the party to put the money in the envelope for them.
When the party finish, the couple will count the money they received and also make a note of the amount of the money they receive from each guest, so when they are invited to the guest’s wedding or the wedding of the guest’s child, they should put more money in the envelope.
- Thai Bridesmaids
Thai people have adopted the western culture of having bridesmaids, but the Thai concept of bridesmaids is different. Usually the only duty for Thai bridesmaids is to wear the dress in the same style or color so it makes beautiful photos, and sometimes they help welcome the guests at the wedding reception. There is no such duty of the maid-of-honor in Thai custom.
- Wedding garlands
One unique element in Thai wedding party is the couple will receive a wedding garland from a guest who is appointed to be the guest of honour (ประธานในพิธี bprà-taan nai pí-tii )of the event. It is believed that the flower garlands will bring good fortune to the married life.
Usually, the guest of honour is the person who is well respected by the couple’s families. The person could be the boss of either the bride or the groom, a politician or someone who has an important position in the society who is a friend of the family, or one of the relatives. Generally, only one person is enough. Sometimes there could be two guests of honour, one from each side.
- Lighting the candles
Before cutting the cake, the wedding couple will light up three auspicious candles (เทียนมงคล tian mong-kon).
This custom is taken from the lighting of ‘a unity candle’ in the west, it is especially popular in the United States. In Thai wedding party, a parent of a bride and groom will light a candle each then the wedding couple will light the candle in the middle together. It is performed to symbolize the joining together of the two families, and their love for the bride and the groom, into one united family.
- Serving the Cake
After cutting the cake, the couple will bring slices of the cake to ‘wai’ their parents, senior relatives and the guest of honour before sharing the rest of the cake to other guests.
Photo Credit : Narakorn Photography
The wedding party usually follows the same steps:
- The dinner party starts around 6 pm; the bride and the groom with their parents will stand in front of the function room greeting and welcoming the guests, and taking photos with each group of guests.
- Guests go to the reception area and sign the guest-book wishing good luck for the couple, and put the money envelop in the box at the registration area.
- Around 7 pm, the dinner starts.
- Around 7.45 pm, the Master of Ceremonies (MC) starts the formal ceremony. Typically, the MC is one of the close friends of either the bride or groom or the parents.
5. The MC invites both the bride and the groom to the stage. A Wedding Flower (มาลัยบ่าวสาว) is presented to them by the parent of the groom.
6. The MC calls for the guest of honour.
7. The guest of honour will give the speech to wish the wedding couple good luck and also add some tips for their marriage.
8. After the speech, the guest of honour will ask all the guests to stand up and toast the bride and groom. All the guests will end the toast by saying ไชโย CHAI-YO (Cheers) 3 times.
9. The guest of honour will step down from the stage, the the MC will interview the bride and groom on how they met, how they fell in love, and tell some other fun stories about their love. This part is optional. These days many couples choose to make a mini movie about their love stories made by a professional team to show in the party.
10. Next, the bride and groom will light the auspicious candles, then cut the wedding cake and serve the parents, senior relatives and the guest of honour.
11. The formal parts of the wedding is done. Now the MC will call single ladies in party to gather in front of the stage. The bride will toss the bouquet. The lucky girl might be invited to the stage for a short and fun interview and take a photo with the wedding couple.
12. After that, the bride and groom will walk around for pictures with all the guests.
13. The party finishes around 10-11 pm. (There is no wedding dance in Thai wedding party. Some weddings might held an after-party event after the senior guests have left and only young people stay.)
And then they lived happily ever after… 🙂
Useful Wedding Vocabulary:
- แต่งงาน dtàeng-ngaan = to get married
- สมรส sŏm-rót = to get married (formal term)
- งานแต่งงาน ngaan dtàeng-ngaan = wedding
- งานมงคลสมรส ngaan mong-kon sŏm-rót = wedding (formal term)
- เจ้าบ่าว jâo-bàao = groom
- เจ้าสาว jâo-săao = bride
- แหวน wăen = ring
- เพชร pét = diamond
- หมั้น mân = to engage
- คู่หมั้น kûu-mân = fiance
- แขก kàek = guest
- ความรัก kwaam-rák = love
- รัก rák = to love
Have you ever attended a Thai wedding party? Please share your experience with us. 🙂