How to Get Married Cheaply

Giving food to the monks

Getting married can be an expensive event for everyone involved. Set aside the sin sod which the groom has to pay to the bride’s family, there is the matter of the nine monks you have to bring to your house and then feed with the finest food. That doesn’t come cheap. Then there is a parade to organize and catering for all the many guests.

When Gor and Tai got married their parents decided to do everything in one go and the whole event was finished by 1 p.m. I believe his grandmother told me that it cost them about 50,000 baht.  In Thailand, weddings are not usually one day affairs. They can go on for several days. The first part, which is the blessing by the monks, usually takes place in the bride’s family home. Only relations and close friends are invited to this. However, in Gor’s case we did it as a live web cast and people from all around the world watched on his thailandlife.com web site.

For many couples, the  wedding party, where many guests are invited to a meal and karaoke singing, can take place a day or two later. If you are invited to a wedding in Thailand it is probably this second part which you will be asked to attend. The couple are already married by this time but you can take your turn to bless them and wish them a good future by pouring some water over their hands. When you go to a wedding, you can either take along a present or put some money into the same envelope that you received your invitation in. That way they know who the money is from!

Mass Wedding

This morning I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two teachers from my school. It was a different kind of wedding as there were 18 couples getting married at the same time! Doing it this way is a lot cheaper. It only cost them 1,200 baht, though they also had to slip a hundred baht or so in pink envelopes for each of the nine monks. Some people might give each monk more like 500–1000 baht each. Since that period of time when Gor was a monk, I now look at this very differently. Dollar signs were flashing. One monk times 18 couples. Easy money. They were probably laughing all the way to the bank. Unless of course they were “proper” monks and they donated the money to worthy causes.

Presenting monks with flowers

The day started early at 6.30 a.m. Actually, my day started at 4.30 a.m. as I had to drive into Bangkok to meet the couple. Luckily the traffic wasn’t so bad at that time. They got married at a hospital for monks on Sri Ayuttaya Road. Before the ceremony started, they went up to one of the wards to present hospital food to the monks that were ill in bed. They went around the ward giving the trays of food to about eight monks. After this, they went back down to the main hall where they sat in a long row with the other couples. This is probably worth noting for foreigners who don’t like the idea of sitting on the floor for hours on end. A traditional wedding in the home can be very painful on the knees. At this hospital, the monks were on a raised platform so it was it perfectly alright for the wedding couple to sit comfortably on chairs.

The ceremony started with the couples taking turns to light the incense sticks. This was then followed by a long period of chanting. The couples then took turns again to present each of the monks with flowers, candles and an envelope of money. Back at their seats, they poured water from one container to another in order to pass the merit they had just made onto dead ancestors. Some more chanting followed and while this was still going on, each couple took turns to be blessed with water by the head monk. The wedding ceremony finished with the couples going outside to pour the water onto some plants as a final act of transferring any merit made to people not present.

In all it took about 70 minutes to complete. I was pleasantly surprised that the events were much the same as traditional weddings. If you ever get a chance to attend a Thai wedding then do so. If you don’t know any Thai people, then maybe try visiting this monk hospital early in the morning to see if there is a wedding going on! The periods of boredom during the long chanting sessions are worth it for the overall cultural experience.

11 responses to “How to Get Married Cheaply

  1. hello richard!

    where is exactly sri ayyutaya road located? i would like to visit the monk hospital soon.

    thank you!

  2. Hi Richard,
    I note from the photo that one bride was wearing sleveless dress. Weren’t it disrespectful to the monk? When visting some of the religious tourist site, under-dressed tourists were sometimes given long sleve shirt and long pants to wear. Thanks for a great culture knowledge transfer.

  3. Maybe stevesuphan should have taken some of this advise, for his wedding and he would not have to borrow money off his mother in-law to pay for his honeymoon in Singapore.
    By the way Richard, how come after all these years living in Thailand, your not married yet. Do you not trust Thai woman, like me.
    Best if you find a Thai woman who likes walking, taking photographs and is not concerned about marriage, very hard to find.

  4. Yeah Paul, perhaps i shoulda read Richard’s blog before getting married!

    Pls don’t get me wrong i wasn’t going off on Honeymoon with no money left!! My ATM card was locked up at home!

    Actually though, due to the kindness of our guests and those couldn’t attend, who gave donations (just like Richard mentioned) our wedding party and ceremony were ‘almost’ paid off.

    This is actually Thai-style.

  5. Archie Morrison

    HI and thank you for a very good and interesting site. I am a LAWN BOWLER and I would like to come to THAILAND on a holiday and would like to play LAWN BOWLS in your country . Where are your LAWN BOWLS CLUBS and what does it cost to play or be a member ??
    Thank you for your help in this matter and keep up the good work ,
    Yours sincerely
    MR ARCHIE MORRISON
    PS I am from PERTH IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

  6. I don’t think the sleeveless dress was disrespectful because I see this is the style of many Thai/Lao dresses now. I don’t know about Thai temple but in Lao temple it is ok but you have to wear the sash (I don’t know the term in Thai) across the chest..it usually matches the border of the silk wrap skirt. I see this a lot in the US. Maybe it was “ok” in the Thai sense of not making a big deal of it because the mass wedding was not done in a wat? Was it done in a public building or another part of the hospital??

  7. Lawn Bowl Club
    http://www.rbsc.org/login/index.asp
    Royal Bangkok Sports Club
    The secretary
    1 Henri Dunant St.
    Bangkok 10330
    Tel (66) 2-255-1420-6
    Eax (66) 2-255-4185

  8. Hello,
    My fiancee and I are coming to Bangkok in July to be married.
    I am Australian and and she is from the Philippines, we thought getting married in Bangkok would be much more convenient and romantic than in our respective countries, we can do that later.
    We will be coming to Bangkok on our own and just wanted to cover the necessary Embassy documentation, and then just go to the nearest Municiple hall and tie the knot.
    Since having made all our plans we have found out that it is now a rule of the Philippine Government that any of their subjucts getting married, have to obtain a License from their Embassy, and the Embassy must post the license application in the diplomatic system for a period of 10 days before they will issue the license. Which makes our stay much longer than necessary, can anyone verify this rule.
    The other thing that puzzles us is, on reading the instructions about being married in Bangkok, from both our Embassies and the local instructions on getting married, no mention is made of a ceremony, do we just go to the local Municiple Hall in Sukumvit, produce the translated documents and just register our marriage, or are we missing something somewhere.
    I look forward to and appreciate any information and comments that might be sent to me.
    Thank you all.

  9. Hi there,

    I would like to know the cost of
    the wedding packgege. How much for
    in the morning?. Can we having the
    wedding in the morning with only
    my family? Without many couples?

    Thanks

    Malinphorn,

  10. Kamonchanok Intim

    I would like to know for the wedding packgege.