A Thai Wedding Village Style


The top photograph is from a Thai wedding I attended in Wonderful Wi’s village in May this year and if you’ve never had the pleasure of attending such a celebration then please do read on because in Isaan’s villages wedding bells ring nearly as often as cow bells do, and a village style wedding is a fantastic ceremony to see. My invitation to the couple’s marriage was delivered in typical Thai style on the day of the big event.

The wedding took place on a Thursday morning and the evening before Wilai went to the home of the bride’s mother to share a nibble and dribble of som tum and lao khao with family and friends of her old schoolmate Noi who was getting married the next day. Unfortunately Wi wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding ceremony due to plans we had already made…at least that’s what I thought.

On the day of the wedding Wi and I woke with an air of excitement as we were due to leave the village at ten that morning for Udon Thani airport where we had a flight booked for a four-day stay in Chiang Mai. By half past eight I had showered and was surfing the internet whilst Wi made final preparations to our luggage. Wi then came up to me and said something which came like a bolt out of the blue and perfectly matched the blue top and casual shorts I was wearing in readiness for our journey to Chiang Mai.

” Hus…band, now we must go friend house and see marry come. We can stay one hour”

” We’re going to the wedding….you didn’t mention it before. I’d better go and change my clothes” I replied.

” Not change clothes over. Thailand you can go see marry like that. Can do Thailand.”

Two minutes later we were on Wi’s motorbike and on our way to her friend’s wedding which was just a couple of hundred yards away.

On the cement porch at the entrance to the bride’s family home this piece of Thai ingenuity caught my eye straight away. Wi had to drag me away from it because it had me rooted to the spot. I’m unsure if this village style ‘foot-wash doormat’ is a part of Thai wedding traditions because it was the first time I’d ever seen one. Very clever.

By the time we arrived the ceremony was well under way and a party of monks had already blessed the couple, received merit in the form of food and returned to the village temple.

A wedding ceremony in Thailand is often conducted by an elder male who blesses the couple and links the bride and groom with a length of white string which is soaked with holy water. By tradition the couple’s string link is then broken and whoever has the longest length attached to their wrist is thought to be the one who possesses the deepest love.

Relatives and friends are invited to perform a ritual called Sai Sin where lengths of white string are individually tied around the couple’s wrists. The Sai Sin wedding ritual is an act of gifting good luck and prosperity to the newly weds.

Sai Sin is an interesting Thai wedding custom because it fits ‘hand on wrist’ with the western marriage expression ‘to tie the knot’ which has many explanations to its origin. My favourite is this one… ‘He has tied a knot with his tongue, that he cannot untie with his teeth: i.e. he is married.’ source The Phrase Finder. I think the groom at this wedding was rather lucky to be marrying such a beautiful Thai bride.

The family home was a typical basic brick-built wooden topped village house with a bare concrete floor adorned with woven mats. Guests were spread about the main room with the bride and groom holding centre stage. In one corner there was a group of men following the proceedings whilst enjoying a few bottles of beer. As Wilai said ….Can doThailand.

To the right of the house a huge canopied party area had been set up full with tables and chairs in readiness for the wedding celebratory food and drink. The food was being prepared at the back of the house whilst the wedding ceremony took place. There seemed to be just as much food getting consumed as there was being made ready. Beer was also flowing here too…Can do Thailand.

After the wedding ceremony the newly weds happily posed for pictures with family and friends.

Old school friends together again once more. Noi and Wi pose outside the bride’s family home. One a newly wed and the other heading to Chiang Mai where she constantly kept looking at this picture and saying “Hus…band, me look dum dum (black) next to Noi. She look white mark mark”.

The cash till in Boots Pharmacy, Chiang Mai, sang a very hearty tune after selling a bucketful of skin whitening creams and lotions to a young woman from Isaan.

If you are planning to get married in Thailand or have a wedding to attend I hope your day is as enjoyable as the hour or so I spent at Noi’s wedding ceremony.

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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

23 Responses

  1. That was pretty much word for word the last Thai wedding that I attended. Except for the doormat, that was a new one for me as well. The only difference is that the wedding I attended was in the evening. The entire day leading up to the event everyone was drinking beer and cooking (I use that term loosely as most of it was raw) for the event. Then the monks showed up, tied the strings, everyone ate and drank late into the night (8:00pm~ish), then went home. The real party animals stayed til about 9:00.

  2. Martyn says:

    Good morning Lawrence, or good afternoon where you are. Unfortunately I had to leave the wedding before things hotted up in the form of food and drink although I have been to a couple of Thai weddings before. I found them to be most enjoyable.

    Nine in the evening is a party animal time in Thai villages, many times I’ve looked out of our front window at ten evening time and seen the whole village swathed in darkness. The villagers must think I’m the ultimate in party-goers.

  3. Peter_M says:

    What a beautiful bride! Nice pictures Martyn.

  4. Martyn says:

    Peter – Noi is one smashing looking lady and her husband one lucky man. She certainly does Udon Thani proud in the beautiful looking women stakes.

  5. Mike says:

    Martyn, yes interesting, slightly different to down here regarding the white string, which is used nonetheless.

    Made me smile when you went the 200 yards on the motorbike. Wouldn’t be Thailand without that would it 😉

  6. Martyn says:

    Mike I think there are a few different variations on the wedding ceremony, regional traditions must play a big part.

    The 200 yards on the motorbike means you pass the 20 or so soi dogs much quicker. I haven’t seen a greyhound in the village yet.

  7. Jens says:

    Thx for a lovely story – thai village weddings in Isaan is a beautiful and fantastic experience. Been there myself as the groom (after 9 days in Thailand – never been in LOS or Asia before! – came only for wedding with the most incredible woman I have ever been in touch with!). It was a complete turn-around in my life, everything almost upside-down from what I knew, strange, fantastic, beautiful, hot, humid and I didn’t know anything about what was going on 😉
    All I could do was smile and enjoy the ceremony, which startet with dressing up by two of the family ladyboys, a walk through the village with guests (was instructed to walk like I was owning the world) and with a truck behind the procession equipped with enormeous loudspeakers. Coming to the bride’s house I had to pass three chains made of flowers held by 2 kids. Had to pay each kid 100THB to be allowed to pass and after passing the youngest ladyboy-to-be on 8 years washed my feet before I could enter the house. Sadly we did not have any monks present (price too high for our budget) – but seeing my beautiful wife all dressed up and the ceremony itself made me cry!
    Maybe have fun watching this one from the walk through the village:

    http://youtu.be/nSS2HFGHSbk on my YouTube-channel

    You made me laugh long time with wonderful Wi’s comments, can hear it word for word from my wife 😉

    If there is 1 thing I hate about Thailand is their desire to be white, all that crazy powder etc – sad that they do not realise that their natural skincolour is soooooo beautiful ……..

  8. Martyn says:

    Jens thanks for your wonderful comment. I watched your YouTube video and your smile lasts the whole way through. It must have been a great day for you. I like your outfit as well.

    I did check out your blog but unfortunately English is all I can read. I tried Google Translate but that’s another story.

    Thanks again and I hope your 692 days until retirement pass real quick. Your love for Thailand shines through in your nicely worded comment

  9. Catherine says:

    Martyn, what a beautiful Thai bride. She is just as I imagined a Thai bride would be (love the dress).

    And please tell Wi from me that she is perfect just the way she is.

  10. Martyn says:

    Catherine – Noi certainly did look beautiful on her big day and her dress was sweet.

    Wi is perfect to me but she has a bit of an obsession with white skin and is always buying lotions. She’s just as bad about her weight, slimming drinks and tablets etc. She only weighs 51 kilos. Enough said.

  11. frogblogger says:

    Nice story, beautiful bride, fascinating foot wash, never seen that before. Sure it wasn’t placed there for the pending visit of the farang, given our reputation in Thailand for taking ‘French showers’?

    Ah Boots in Chiang Mai, the one at Thapae Gate? Overpriced, I bet your wallet was feeling the pinch after you shopped there. Just so long as you didn’t visit that overrated American establishment that allegedly provides coffee a couple of doors down, I won’t promote them, but the beverages are far from star quality and they definitely cost big bucks.

  12. Martyn says:

    Pete if you haven’t seen the fancy foot wash thing before then I’ll take it as being a new and novel rural invention. Next step the Moon.

    The Boots Pharmacy was just over the road from Thapae Gate but I don’t know how much Wi paid for all the creams and lotions she bought. I do tease her at times by telling her the latest whitening product she has bought is working because the bottom of her feet are white. That gets a groan.

    I’m not a big coffee drinker in Thailand. If I can’t use a bottle opener on it then I’m not really interested.

  13. Jens says:

    Hi Martyn, thx for comments – yes I did look smashing in that outfit 😉 …. and felt like a king!
    Sorry that some on the blog is in Danish, but the slideshows etc speaks for themselves – you can always get a smile and laugh ’bout things in Thailand and when familiar with thinglish you easily find the funny meaning of many things … 😉

  14. Martyn says:

    Jens make no apologies about your blog being in Danish, I’m sure you get a lot of hits as it is.

    I had a look at your slideshow and saw you visited Udon Thani, I hope you enjoyed your time there. I certainly miss it.

    Tinglish is the language of laughter and Thailand wouldn’t be the same without it.

  15. Lawrence says:

    Martyn, you had me going for a minute when I read the title. I was imagining Wi as the bride … ah well.

    Village weddings are really good fun, I agree, although less so in some respects for the main participants I imagine. All that smiling, all those photos.

    Like Mike, I smiled at the way you arrived at the wedding. I have been prevented a couple of times from arriving at similar events on a bicycle. It would shame the hosts, I’m told, not to mention shaming me.

  16. Martyn says:

    Lawrence maybe the title will be true one day but if so it’ll be some time in the distant future.

    I didn’t have much time at this wedding but I’ve attended a couple of other village weddings before and found them fascinating events.

    Sorry about my late reply but I’m on nights. Two nights off starting tomorrow.

  17. Snap says:

    Martyn, if that thing on the banana leaf is a lump of concrete, it’d do my heels the world of good 😉

    Thanks for the insight into a Thai wedding, I’ve never been. Very different to the one Stray and I just attended in VN. The bride does look beautiful, and so does Wi. The dreaded *whitening* obession…I don’t know, it’s a girl thing…never happy with the way we look!

  18. Martyn says:

    Snap – Thai girls do have a terrible obsession with the colour of their skin and TV actresses don’t help matters much. The TV soap stars look whiter than most Brit women but that’s because of the reverse obsession in the UK’s cooler climates.

    I gave the banana leaf and stone a miss. It must be good for hard skin on anyone’s heels.

    I’ll be catching up with your latest posts tomorrow when I’ve finished this current set of nights.

  19. Talen says:

    Beautiful photo’s Martyn, and the bride is absolutely stunning. I have yet to attend a wedding in Thailand and it is surely something I look forward too…as long as it isn’t mine 😛

  20. Martyn says:

    Talen you surprise me that on your previous ventures into Isaan you never had the pleasure of encountering a Thai wedding. They really are great people watching events with plenty of food and drink thrown in. If you get the chance then grab it, and luckily you don’t have to dress to the nines to attend one.

  21. colin says:

    Looks like a great day out and something I would love to attend but like Talen says, not my own!

    I just listened to the bangkok podcast depicting a wedding and it was nice to put some pictures to the words I heard ealier today.

    great pictures and your wife looks beautiful as she is!

  22. Martyn says:

    Colin thanks for the read and I’ll pass on your approval of Wilai’s looks to the lady herself. Where you’re heading soon there’ll too much fun and single girls to even contemplate settling down.

  23. Knarsen says:

    My goodness, what gorgeous women, your wife included! I love these photographs and the laid-backness of the wedding. A far cry from “bridezillas” and wedding registries, and so lovely to look at.

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