Compiled by Khun Kriengsak Niratpattanasai , VP Thai Danu bank
The Thai wedding ceremony is unique. It used to be more complex with lots of steps. Presently, it has been modified to be more modern and less complex.
Usually, we will have a Monk Blessing as is the Buddhism custom at the house of the bride or the bridegroom (which will be the place for the event) in the morning. After that, there will be marriage registration. Then, we have lunch together.
Many couples do not have this part of the day of the monk blessing and registration at home. They may go to register at the county office the day before or after the wedding. In the afternoon, the traditional wedding customs will be followed. It is called ROD-NAM-SANG, and is the main event where both the bride and the bridegroom's family get together. They witness this important event.
Both the bridge and the bridegroom will sit close together on the floor (or small stage) with their hands held in WAI style (like the way we pay respect to the Lord Buddha). A flower chain connects the hands.
The most senior person will act as the leader of the event. He or she will start to soak the couple's hands in water and wish them good luck. The water is contained in a conch shell container (ROD is soak, NAM is water, and SANG is conch shell). Then, the parents and others will do the same. Usually, only selected people like close friends and close relatives will be invited to the ROD-NAM-SANG event.
If you are the immediate supervisor of the bride or bridegroom, you may be invited to join the ceremony. Accept it, it's a great honour. Please do not dress in BLACK colours (Dress and necktie). For Thais, the black colour is reserved for a sad event like a funeral. I have heard many Thais complained about foreigners wearing black dress to a wedding ceremony and it is a sign of bad luck to the bride and the bridegroom.
On the same night, there will be a wedding party. The number of invited guests is around 100 - 300. People like to organise the function in the hotel since the facilities are easier to set up. It could be arranged in different ways i.e. Cocktail style, Buffet Thai food, Chinese food, or sit down dinner. Whatever the style, the wedding party usually follows the same steps:
The dinner party starts around 6 pm; the bride and the bridegroom with their parents will stand in front of the function room greeting and welcoming the guests. Guests arrive. Guests go to register the name at reception area. Guest will sign the guest-book wishing good luck for the couple. Guests will present the gift at the registration area. It could be gift or gift cheque. If you present gift cheque, value varies according your position and the position of the bride and the bridegroom. Check with your secretary or colleague on the proper amount. If you give less than expected you will get a reputation as a stingy boss! Guests take photograps with the bride and the bridegroom.
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 bridegroom. The MC invites both the bride and the bridegroom to the floor. A wedding Flower is presented to them by the parent of the bridegroom. The MC calls for the guest of honour.
Usually, the guest of honour is the person who is well respected by the community. The person could be the immediate supervisor of either the bride or the bridegroom, or could be one of the relatives. Generally, only one person is enough. Sometimes there could be 2 guests of honour, one from each side. Usually, the guest of honour is aware of their role before the event. The guest of honour will give the speech. The speech should be wish them a good luck and also add some tips for marriage. A speech should only take 2 to 3 minutes. Do not talk for over 5 minutes, it will annoy other guests.
After the speech, the guest of honour will asked all the guests to stand up and toast the bride and bride groom. All the guests will end the toast by saying CHAI-YO (Cheers) 3 times. The guest of honour will step down from the floor. The MC might make a playful speech and interview the bride and bridegroom on how they met, how they fell in love, and tell some other fun stories about their love (if the MC learns it before the event). This part is optional. It's depends on how good the MC is in his job.
Next, the bride and bridegroom will cut the wedding cake and serve some guests. Usually, they will serve the parents, senior relatives and the guest of honour. After that, the bride and bride groom will walk around for pictures or movies with all the guests.
Typically, the friends of the bridegroom will use this opportunity to individual salute the bridegroom by offering a toast. "They will drink bottoms up" their own drink. If the bridegroom has 50 friends, it means that he has to drink 50 glasses of whiskey. So, that first night, he may not be able to perform the role of good husband. Because, he is too drunk! The party finishes around 10-11 pm.
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