A Thai Wedding
By A Military Man
As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, I have the opportunity to travel to Thailand often. My first trip in a long while came in early 1999. Trying to make my trip in Thailand a little more of a challenge, I decided I would not pay for any women in order to serve two purposes:
1. I'm cheap
2. If a girl really wants to go home with me, then it won't be for money but because she likes me.
After about a week in-country I happened to be wandering around a mall and noticed the most angel-like woman I'd ever seen. After coming up with something funny to break the ice, and after initial introductions a relationship developed and we were married about a year later.
For anyone wanting to marry a Thai, be prepared to shell out some money! This appears to be a cultural thing and not an outright scam. Here's what you should budget for:
1. 10 baht gold jewelry (-/+ $2000). This goes to your wife.
2. -/+ $2000 for the family. This is how much your wife costs.
3. -/+ $600 – $1000 for the reception (food, music, invites, clothes)
Our wedding was a virtual three-ring circus and you should be prepared for the same…. The day before all the tables will be set up, the karaoke man with 8 speakers each able to spew out sing-song music at the level of small jet liners will also appear (he'll play all day and into the night until you rip the extension cords out). The food will also arrive (i.e. numerous pigs which you'll get to help kill and chop up). Then it's off to rent your wedding clothes. All this goes on all day and into the night. People will show up and drinking goes on all day. Everyone wants to meet a farang, and the younger you are the more will show up.
You'll be woken up long before the sun rises by Mr. Annoying Karaoke Man again. I think the level of music is some sort of calling for all the province to begin getting ready. Once you're dressed you have to leave the house so your bride can get ready. Most of the village was there (about 400 people) since free food will be available. All of the women and young adults will march from the house and proceed about 500 meters down the road. They'll all be dancing and playing music, meanwhile you'll be asking yourself "What the fuck is going on"? "Why do I have a drunk 70 year old man asking me to buy whiskey"? Soon the whole procession will make it's way back to the house and as you get to the outskirts, two girls holding a rope will stop your advancement. You have to give each of them 100 baht in order to enter. Here's where you should run if you're not up to it because the next hour and a half will be sheer torture!
Once allowed inside you move to the house. Your wife will come out all dolled up and you'll have to remove your shoes, then she'll wash your feet. You both then move into the house where everyone else from the village will attempt to enter. Now is where the real fun begins. I'd suggest to all that you attempt to have a TV set up in front of you because you're going to be here for a while, and if you aren't Catholic, a new level of pain will be your friend. You and your wife will get to kneel down in front of a monk, and old lady chewing bettlenut, and various other comic book dressed people for the remainder of the ceremony (read eternity!). I swear the only thing I could make out was "Brang Brang Brang" (farang in Khmer).
There will be people all around trying to talk to you, loads of dishes with food in them (my favorite were the pig's heads), and a lot of water being sprinkled on your head. Then they'll tie your heads together with a white rope. By this time your legs should have already gone limp and unless you're chewing opium, the pain has only begun. People will then begin to put money out and your $2000 (converted to the smallest possible denomination) will be spread in front of you. Around this time you will have hopefully gone into some sort of trance which will make the remaining 45 min seem like a dream (or nightmare). Finally it's over and the reception begins. You then get to go to each table and people will give you money in envelopes. Depending on the status of your new in-laws, you'll get anywhere from 100 – 5,000 baht in each envelope. I think we ended up with about 100,000 baht but you won't see any of it since it all goes to your in-laws! In a Thai wedding there exists no point where you will get any money in return. (This is not exactly right – Stick)
The reception will go on until all the food, beer, and whiskey is gone (we bought 20 cases of whiskey), or until your hearing goes out from the annoying karaoke music. If you're lucky, your Karaoke guy will be gay and like you and agree to your requests that he tone it down. Several successful attempts to have him play anything by Guns and Roses or Led Zeppelin will be turned down….be warned. All in all it's a fun experience, especially showing the pictures to your family and explaining the whole affair. If you've been divorced then the pain of a Thai wedding can be just as much fun. In hindsight I'd suggest try to drink as much as possible before the procession, but not enough to make an ass out of yourself. To make it even nicer I tried to have an elephant present and have a monkey as my best man, but both requests were turned down by my mother in law. Actually the monkey was a go until he freed himself from his chain and scrambled up a tree.
My wife and I have been married almost 3 years now with no problems. If you plan to live outside Thailand, the only thing you'll need to have to make your wife happy is plenty of Thai peppers. In any marriage, it takes work on both parties but it helps if you can find a woman who didn't make her living sleeping with anyone for 1000 baht, so do yourselves a favor and don't marry a bar girl! There are enough women in Thailand that you shouldn't have to fall in love with one on the bottom of the social ladder. You wouldn't marry one in your own country would you?!
This is one example of a marriage with a girl from a rural area. Marriage with a girl from Bangkok or a more urban area may be somewhat different.