Say “I Do” to a wedding in Thailand
Currently organizing a wedding in Thailand myself, I’ve come to realize the long list of benefits of a destination wedding can have. Breathtakingly beautiful venues that boast serene natural settings but won’t break the bank; having a holiday upon arrival rather than a stress-reddened pre-wedding experience; the possibility of a mini holiday for your guests, who will also be more eager to attend; plus being far away from your home town also means a smaller and more intimate group of friends and family (so you can forget every other Tom, Dick, and Harry who are friends of your parents as well as your second aunty twice removed from the guest list).
The average cost of a wedding in the United States, for instance, comes in at a whopping US$35,000 (that’s over B1 million!). Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, a wedding in Thailand can cost couples less than B200,000—not much more than US$6,000—depending on the number of guests.
Destination weddings have become ever more popular as couples seek out a wedding venue that offers unique and unforgettable experiences for both themselves and their guests, while also fulfilling their wanderlust and saving some serious cash. Thailand has long been renowned as a destination wedding hotspot. Its colourful culture, idyllic scenery, incredible cuisine, warm hospitality, and affordable prices make Thailand score top marks in many couples’ books.
From low-key, private weddings to grand, glamourous galas, Thailand’s resorts offer something for everyone and every budget. Most resorts also have their own expert team of wedding planners who can see to your every desire—whether it be invitations, cocktails, dinners, fireworks, fire dances, DJs or live bands, Thai classical dances, flying lanterns, private yacht charters, you name it! Hiring an experienced wedding planner makes the planning process almost effortless.
For a barefoot beach wedding the options Thailand offers are almost endless. But if you want to go with an established favourite, the Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Nai Yang Beach, which in 2017 was named the “Best International Wedding Venue” at the International Hotel Awards, offers an idyllic private beach which can host both intimate ceremonies and lavish celebrations. The resort also serves as an ideal destination for a honeymoon, so no need to spend your first days as a married couple travelling.
For a beachfront local closer to Bangkok, the beautiful InterContinental Hua Hin Resort is well equipped to handle marriage ceremonies large and small, with 158 rooms and suites to handle even large number of guests.
If you opt to stay in Bangkok itself, you also have a vast array of properties that can cater to your impending nuptials. The Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel, for instance, takes your wedding to new heights with its 11-metre high ceilings and spectacular riverside views in its iconic Grand Ballroom. Located right on the Chao Phraya River, a little downriver from the busiest section of the downtown core, this urban resort is completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the city and also offers views that are unmatched by any other riverside venue.
If glitz and glamour is more your style, check out the ultra-chic W Bangkok Hotel, which offers the choice of three lavish venues to celebrate late into the night. Couples can also enjoy a late check-out of 3pm, so you can fully enjoy your first night as husband and wife. Or, for an intimate wedding by the river, in a restored century-old mansion, the Praya Palazzo has excellent packages available (see story on pg. 32)
Finally, for a more traditional wedding, the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao offers an opulent fairy tale ballroom setting, while the Centara Grand at CentralWorld has a serene outdoor venue facility, perfect for an unforgettable tropical garden ceremony. And, of course, the stately Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has had—since it opened in 1876—a long history of hosting lavish weddings.
When planning a wedding in Thailand, there are several factors that need to be kept in mind. For starters, the seasons—or lack of them—can have a huge impact on your wedding day festivities. Thailand’s rainy season runs from May through to October, with August to September often being exceptionally wet. And while the temperature is still hot during these months, afternoon downpours and flash floods can occur without a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, Thailand’s tourism “high season” occurs during the dry season (November through to April) which pushes up the prices of the resorts nationwide.
The Thai calendar can also have an impact on your wedding. The selling of alcohol on religious holidays (of which there are many) is strictly prohibited, and bars and restaurants across the country too are required to stop sales the moment the clock strikes midnight. So if you wish to pop Prosecco and Champagne until the early hours of the morning, make sure that your wedding day doesn’t fall on or before a religious holiday.
When choosing your venue, also consider your guests. Make sure there are plenty of hotels and guesthouses in the surrounding area to suit every budget. Also, consider what activities are on offer, and whether or not transport can be easily arranged. Photos online can also be deceiving so make a trip to your wedding venue before your big day to ensure there are no unfortunate surprises.
Last, but most importantly, there’s the paperwork. Many resorts offer legal services at an additional cost, but to ensure a stress-free day register your marriage in your home country in advance and bring your marriage certificate with you—just in case!
By Kelly Harvey