Good article this week on the whole dowry system. Thought I would give you my experience.
I got engaged on Dec 30, 2002 and will marry on May 31, 2003.
My wife to be is a 'good girl' (how I hate this term – I consider her to be a normal girl – for want of a better word.) I deliberately didn't meet her family before because I didn't want any extra pressure on me to get married…I wanted to make my own decision that this was the girl for me.
We traveled home (near Ubon) to meet the family and had a small engagement ceremony which consisted of showing them the ring and bracelet we had bought the day before ( this was bought just for show and wouldn't have been worth more then 5,000 baht together) and giving her Father (Mother deceased) 20,000 baht.
Like Stick said – I had initial reluctance and sometimes felt disgusted about this whole dowry system, until I talked to my fiancée about it and other Thai people. I had read all the bad stories on this website about families pissing up the dowry or gambling or whatever. After I met the family I was much relieved. They don't drink or gamble, they all have jobs and are hard working. They seem to have a lot of respect in the village they live in.
Back to the dowry….My fiancée and I discussed it before heading home and were both happy with the 20,000 initial payment. We then needed to discuss payment for the wedding.(as I said earlier – we will marry in my country in May and again in Thailand next January) She had travelled once to my home and had seen my business and understands the whole farang way of life when it comes to money. (We work hard and save to look after ourselves in old age so we wont become a burden to our children – total opposite to Thailand)
She explained to me that it is really all about face and for me to prove that I have the funds to look after his daughter. Her sister said that it is no problem to give a lot of money and organise how much you want to be given back the next day after all the guests have left. So with that settled – at the engagement ceremony it was announced a dowry of 300,000 baht will be paid and (not announced) that 200,000 will be given back to us before returning home. Sounds strange – well yes it is but it was all discussed openly and honestly which is more then I can say for business transactions in farang land! A footnote to all of this is that the old man has put the initial 20,000 baht towards a block of land in my fiancées name and my wife to be said with the 100,000 he will take a little for himself to live on and then rest will also go towards land.
Some people I am sure are reading this and still shaking their heads saying 'no way will I ever pay a dowry for a wife, they can't love me if there is money involved' – I was the same, as was Mr. Stick and yes they can love you with all their heart. I was told that if I couldn't afford any money then that was okay…sure the family might lose a little face but if that's the way its to be then so be it. I decided to pay it and already that money has been reinvested for our future.
Other people I'm sure are saying 'you are just lucky'. Well yes I agree, I am lucky as I have met a girl who I want to spend the rest of my life with. A girl who loves me for who I am, an intelligent (Uni graduate), strong willed, independent woman who knows what she wants out of life. They are out there (and I don't just mean in Thailand) but there is one place that you will not find them…and that is in a bar.
I'm a bit lost as to why there was an initial payment of 20,000 baht. What was that for? Was it perhaps independent of the engagement ceremony? Good luck on your upcoming marriage.