Ruby red sunsets over cream colored beaches, ethereal limestone karsts and cerulean lagoons make Thailand a dream destination for couples planning a wedding and honeymoon abroad. Of the hundreds of enchanting Thai islands, Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand and Phuket, the pearl of the Andaman Sea, are catching the eyes of love birds hailing from Asia, Europe and the US as they ponder wedding destinations.
Planning a wedding on the other side of the world may seem costly and out of reach, but there's a reason so many couples are making the decision to say "I do" on a Thai beach. This mystical land exudes romance and elegance, with the soft scent of orchids lingering in the sea breeze, friendly local faces offering warm smiles and ornate wedding garments woven from shimmering silks of the rainbow. Not only can you expect an exotically delicious fairytale ceremony, but it marks the start of a wonderful adventure for couples in a foreign land, embarking into marriage by leaving the familiar of home and traveling into the unfamiliar, hand in hand.
Go ahead, read on and allow yourself to be seduced by the Land of Smiles. Think Thailand is out of reach? Think again. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when considering Thailand for your wedding destination.
Plan with the seasons
It all comes down to personal preference when planning your wedding around Thailand's seasons, but if you've got a picture in mind that includes robin blue skies, fiery sun and equally fiery sunsets, the rainy or "low" season in Thailand might not be for you. During the months of May to October, the gray clouds roll in, resulting in sporadic showers almost daily. Instead, many opt to visit during the cool or "high" season from November to February, when the temperatures are quite pleasant and the rains have subsided. Rainy season does have its perks, though. If you're keeping to a budget, search for special packages and offers during these months, as travel prices drop due to decreased tourism.
Research Thai culture and history
Before jumping into wedding planning, take time to read up on Thai culture and history, especially wedding etiquette. This will not only prepare you for the journey ahead, but fosters a more intimate perspective of this charming country and its people. It's also essential to know what to expect when it comes to cultural norms. You might even discover some ideas that'll give your wedding a traditional Thai twist! Marriage is sacred in Thailand and deeply respected, with Buddhist rituals and ancient traditions that are held in the highest regard. When my friends were married in Phang Nga Province, the groom had to time his walk to the wedding venue carefully to arrive precisely at 9:09 AM, which is considered lucky in Thai culture. Here are 25 other things to consider when it comes to Thai wedding etiquette.
Plan a pre-wedding trip
Thorough research on destinations and venues is one thing, but hopping on a plane for a Thailand vacation before making any wedding decisions puts you right in the thick of it, so you don't have to rely on research alone. If you're able, plan a trip to Thailand beforehand and visit different provinces to get a feel for the local vibes and to find the beach and venue that captures your heart entirely. Without the stress of the unknown, you have a more realistic picture of what your wedding will look like, get an idea for accommodation prices and locations and let's not forget...you'll have a blast as you explore Southeast Asia paradise!
Think about your guests
Let's be honest, a destination wedding can be a stretch for your guests when it comes to requesting off from work and travel costs. Focus on making the trip as seamless as possible for them. For a wedding held at home, it's typical to mail wedding invitations at least eight weeks out. For a wedding abroad, much more notice is needed to plan accordingly. Make your wedding invitations a top priority and get them out the door as soon as possible, as early as 24 months in advance. Offer a variety of affordable accommodation options and help take the guesswork out of transportation and travel documents. There will be guests that won't attend because of the travel, but it doesn't mean they can't celebrate the big day with you. Organize a formal get together at home for those who aren't able to make it to Thailand. It's the perfect way to include all of your closest friends and family in one of the most important days of your life.
Get the legal stuff done
Going the international route with your wedding can raise questions about how the laws may differ from having the wedding at home. Contact the embassy or tourist information bureau in Thailand for up-to-date information on documentation, visas and other specifics regarding how your marriage will be legally recognized once you get back home. Laws differ country to country, but usually the local civil or religious officials perform the ceremony, making the marriage legal in the country in which the wedding is held. You may be required to submit an affidavit to show eligibility of marriage, or even a blood test. Some countries require that the couple stays in the country a certain number of days before the ceremony. Do your homework and get the paperwork done early to avoid headaches down the road.