Last year, I set off back to London with a plan.
To raise enough money to buy a house and marry my girlfriend in Thailand. This post goes into more detail about the best part of a year it took me to do it.
There are couple of other posts about the house,the transfer of the title deed and and the whole registration process so if you've read them you know about that part of the plan.
This post is about the wedding itself. You can see the video here on the blog or on YouTube,
As with all my posts, if you click on the photos you can see them full size.
People who have only ever been to Pattaya or certain parts of Bangkok may have the view that Thai society is quite liberal. It is, in fact, quite the opposite.
There had already been a few mutterings in the village where my girlfriend lives about us not being married. Most couples there, after it's 'known' that they are a couple, announce a date for their wedding. It's not acceptable to just live together like it is here in the UK.
So, seeing as we make each other very happy, we decided to get married. With hindsight, we perhaps should have avoided doing two of the most stressful and expensive things a couple can do, buying a house and getting married, within a few months of each other.
After the house purchase, there was a lot of work to be done on the house to get it up to scratch, painting, tiling, land clearing etc. We planned, due to availability of time off work, and a strong desire for me to return to Thailand, to have the wedding in May.
Here, the couple decide upon and announce a date.
There, the date is set for you.
People who know about these things consult various oracles and almanacs, talk with monks, take in account the birth dates of the couple, the moon, the stars and goodness knows what else!
We were given the choice of two auspicious days. The 3rd and the 8th of May. The 8th was chosen (apparently an even number is better, it represents both people).
I was very lucky to have some friends from the UK who came over, and a couple from other parts of Thailand too. A blessing indeed!
So, there were plans to be made, 'plane tickets to be bought, accommodation to be booked.
It was stressful, for me and for Bow. I think probably more so for her as she was in the middle of all the work on the house and also dealing with the arrangements for the wedding. All I had to do was make sure there was enough money (there very nearly wasn't!) and co-ordinate the arrival of my friends.
There's paperwork involved if you want to make the wedding legally binding (which we have) but that's dealt with in another post.
This one is about the wedding and is mostly photos....
|The back garden becomes a kitchen!|
|Our house guests wake up!|
|Mum's awake too.|
|Final touches to the decorations.|
|My brother-in-law's Dad get's into the swing of things.|
|more make up...|
|...and lot's of people!|
I think everything's pretty much ready...
|My two step-daughters look particularly beautiful...|
|the front garden's filling up too...|
|The 'Farang' contingent have arrived...Rick from England, Rachel from Samui...|
|Ashley from England (by way of Ireland!)|
|Inigo from England...|
|Dear and Jes from Koh Lanta|
The monks arrive
|We sit under the pyramid...|
...this goes on for quite some time, personally I loved every minute of it. It was so different from anything I've ever experienced. Even though I didn't understand what was being said, I did understand the principle behind it. To say this was a Buddhist wedding is to mis-understand Buddhism I think. There is no such thing as a Buddhist wedding, there is the chanting by the monks, which some people refer to as a blessing. This again, I believe, is a mis-understanding. They repeat the main precepts of Buddhism, which is a teaching that has no deity, no God. The Buddha was a great teacher, a human being not some imagined omnipotent father figure who lives in the sky, it is more like a science of the mind. Which means that without any kind of 'magic' supernatural deity, there can be no blessing, in the Christian sense of the word.
The Buddhist precepts can be found here. The main five, which should be followed by any Buddhist are as follows;
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from ...
- ...harming living beings.
- ...taking things not freely given.
- ...sexual misconduct.
- ...false speech.
- ...intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.
Anyone who has been to any kind of celebration in Thailand will be able to testify that these precepts, especially number five, are not commandments as such, but guidelines!
Anyway, the repeating of the precepts is the first part of the day.
The bowls that the monks receive their daily alms in are brought in to be 'blessed' (for want of a better word!)
...brought back outside...
Then we all go outside and put some rice in them....
A few photo sessions... and the actual wedding can begin!
A swift costume change and it's off up to the end of the road for the procession to the bride's house the 'khaan maak'
This was a great part of the day for me. The procession was accompanied by lot's of noise and clapping of hands...as we arrived at the bride's house, another section of ladies was there to greet us. The noise was deafening as they welcomed me to the first gate, 'pradoo ngern' or silver gate.
This 'gate' consisted of a silver chain held across the driveway entrance. In order to open it, my best man had to provide the gate keepers with envelopes containing money.
more jovial negotiations...
...a few more envelopes...
we take our places beside the flowers, and the wedding ceremony begins...
...there's wishes for good luck and happiness..
...there's a silver bowl with incense, candles and flowers...
...there's money! A dowry or 'sin sodt' is given to the bride's mother...
A very low 'wai' to Mum...
...there's gold given to the bride...
...looks like it hurts but I don't remember her complaining!
more gold, and the rings are exchanged...
The best man looks on....it's all his fault!
two circles of cord are placed on our heads...this symbolises our individuality and the fact that we are now joined together.
...the cord is extended and spread around the room to include everyone present as they wish us happiness and good fortune for the future...
the person leading the ceremony encourages us to lead a good life...
the bride's father-in-law chips in...
"Por leaw! Jep kaa!"...he wants the fella to hurry up, his legs are hurting! ...he may have had a sherry!
a bite to eat seals the deal.
In some parts of Thailand, the next part of the ceremony involves pouring water over the hands of the couple. Not in the North, it's tying cords around the wrists. Everyone gives us their best wishes for the future whilst they tie the cord around our wrists.
the best man gets some too!
Then, we all put our hands together for more good wishes...
(Rachel, my friend from Samui has been roped in as the 'best woman' she is involved in the ceremony too)
I've also used some of her photos in this post, thanks Rach!
...then it's off to the bedroom! The bed is covered with flowers, and the centre piece from the ceremony is placed on the bed. We sit down and are given some sage advice from the elder members of the family!
...and now, I believe, we're married!
Now comes the hard part....off around all the tables to have our photo taken with everyone...they all put money in their invitation envelopes and put them into the silver bowl, they also insist I have a drink with them, all of them!
It's all a bit too much for some people!
Anyway, it was a great day, I'm very happy to be married. I hope you enjoyed this post.