Thai Wedding Traditions

Follow these Thai wedding traditions like merit making and dowry, so you’ll have a lifetime of happiness with your wife and enjoy a fancy, colorful marriage.

If you have decide to marry a wonderful Thai girl then congratulations. We wish you that you will have a lifetime full of happiness with your new wife.

And you probably will, as long as you have not met your girl in a bar here in Thailand. I won’t go into all the details on the bar girl scene…if you are here looking for a good wife then I am sure that you have the common sense to know that your not going to find true love and happiness with a bar girl (prostitute). Too many men have tried that and I would guess that 90% have been very unlucky to say the least.

Traditional Thai girls and sex

Most Thai ladies are very traditional and that means no sex until marriage as that is bad face for them and their family.

So with tradition you would first marry her in her village or town with a gathering of family, friends and the local monks ( usually 9 monks ) to do the ceremony.

Choosing the auspicious wedding date

When you have decided to marry, the village elders will pick out several good days depending on the months when it is the best luck days to marry.

Thais are superstitious of several things like this so it is best of course to let your wife and her family pick the best luck day for you all so you will have long and happy lives together.

Updating and inviting the ancestors

A typical Thai Buddhist tradition: the evening before the wedding, the engaged couple will pay homage to their ancestors. Nothing fancy, no need for a special dress, just to make sure the whole universe is aware of what’s happening.

Also the day of the marriage, a “khan maak” procession will walk towards the house of the bride with musicians and food. Extra food will be given to the ancestors so they can participate in the festivities as well.

Making merit: good will come for those who give…

Merit making and dowry: when you give in abundance, you will receive in abundance…

Compare merit with “good karma”: whatever positive you contribute to other living creatures will add to yours and to that of your next incarnations. In Buddhist believe, making merit happens amongst others when you do or participate in good deeds and when you are thankful.

On the wedding day food is prepared for the monks and after they eat, they will chant and give blessing to the new couple. Afterwards – before the monks leave – they are each given an envelope with a little money in it. Giving the monks food and a little money at the ceremony is very important for the Thais. It is what they call doing boon and is the only way that the monks have to eat.

The local temple belongs to the Thai people as a whole and the community works together to make the temple and the community a better place. A very good system that the western culture should learn from. Giving a donation to the local temple will show you know and respect the Thai traditions, your Thai wife and your new Thai family.

It’s not all about money but it’s about what you do with your heart: setting birds, fishes or turtles free is another way of making merit and feeding the monks wont cut into your budget either.

Thai wedding ceremony

Before the ceremony, there will traditionally a procession

Pouring holy water for new life (rod nam sang): Thai bride accepting good wishes (and gifts) from her friends. Both bride and groom will be wearing traditional Thai dress and attire.
Before the water pouring, they will be officially married during the “sai monkhon” ritual: their heads will be threaded with a white rope in 2 circles that don’t touch: meaning that there are 2 persons coming together without loosing their personal identities.
Followed by the thread ceremony “phiti bai sri su kwan”: a thread will be tied around the wrists of the couples and then torn apart: whoever of the couple ends up with the most rope, is the one that loves the other the most…
Followed by “sai sin” where guests will tie good luck rope bracelets around the wrists of the newlyweds. The longer you keep them around your writs, the more good luck they will bring the couple.

The wedding is a very fun ceremony that can last 1 to 2 days filled with music, food and yes a little drinking on the part of many also. Depending on the size of the wedding it can be from 1 to even 3 days with 2 being the norm.

Starting the day before the wedding people start preparing food, eating, talking, music and fun.

The day of the wedding more family and friends come to eat, drink, talk and participate in the wedding. The monks then come and are given food and after they give blessings to the new couple.

Giving “sin sod” dowry: what and how much money changes hands?

Part of the Thai wedding ceremony is for you – the man – to give his new wife some money and some Thai gold such as:

  • a necklace and or
  • a bracelet,

…not the traditional diamond ring set of the western culture. The dowry is given at the end of the khan maak procession.

The money ranges anywhere from 20,000 baht to 100,00+ baht and usually both a gold necklace and bracelet. Gold is measured in baht here and 1 baht is 15.x grams of gold. Usually a necklace is at least 1 baht in weight and the bracelet the same. Again it would be in very bad face not to have some money and gold for your wife at the ceremony.

The reason for the money? Besides being the marriage custom in Thailand:

  • The money helps pay for the wedding and if any is left can help the girls parents some. At the weddings much food and drinks are purchased for the family and friends and sometimes live entertainment.
  • The gold of course is for your new wife.

Thai gold can be bought here in Thailand at good prices, and it’s the only kind that the Thais really recognize as real gold. “Stuff” from the west or USA looks like “junk” to them as it is alloyed to make it stronger but not as gold looking, so take my advice and buy the Thai gold.

The money that you would normally pay for a diamond ring set in the US or the UK can be used to give at the wedding and for the purchase of the Thai gold here and you will look very good to the family and friends of your new wife and you will actually save money and time.

You be the judge on the amount of money you give. Remember you are a foreigner so try to show good face on your part. The very poorest of poor Thais give at least 20,000 baht. My wife’s cousin which is Thai and is not poor (he won the Thai lottery…) gave his wife 130,000 baht and 5 baht of gold.

I would say you should not consider giving less then 50,000 baht in money and 2 baht of gold. This range is of the norm. If you can and feel right giving a little more then by all means do so if you have got to know the girl well and have good feelings about her and her family. Most of these people work so very hard for so little to raise their children. The average pay here is $3.75 per day.

Do exercise due caution and common sense too. While your new Thai wife may be very good I would never and I mean never let anyone know how much money your really have. It will be good to protect your wife and children if you have some for the future but some of the extended Thai family may have their hand out wanting this and that.

Some people have had problems with this to the extent that they and their wife move to another area. That can be hard as Thais are very family oriented people but a good wife will think of you and her and your children ahead of extended family, but her mother and father will always be dear to her and she will want to make sure they are ok.

So with all said on that subject, it may be best to just say you have a fixed income to last for you and your wife. That can prevent problems before they could come up.

Customs in Thailand: in Rome, do as the Romans do…

If you have decided to make The Kingdom of Thailand your home then one great thing is that you will be able to live here very cheaply compared to your own country, and if you have a great wife then life is good. A good Thai wife can be the best wife that you have ever dreamed about.

Take my advice and follow the Thai marriage customs and let your wife and her family do most of the planning. I thought I knew most of Thailand before I came here to live but did not study the marriage customs and did the typical western custom of a diamond ring. I should have studied more as I caused my wife to lose face at our wedding.

I put this traditional Thai wedding customs page on this site, so you that plan on marrying here do not make the mistakes that I made. I have been married now for almost 3 years now, living permanently in Thailand and have I learned much more about Thai ways and customs.

While the money exchange at the wedding can seem strange and almost against our western culture. We must understand that we are in Thailand and this is the Thai custom, and with understanding we realize that really there is nothing wrong with this. The money to pay for the wedding has to come from somewhere.

So with all that understood and in perspective then no need to worry, it’s really not that much different then the western marriage except for the fact it is a much more fun ceremony and party atmosphere with fun for all from the little children to the 80 year old village ladies dancing to the Thai music. Take lots of pictures and have fun yourself — it is an event you will cherish all of your life.


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