White sandy beaches, gorgeous tropical islands, ornate temples, bargain shopping, incredible cuisine, vibrant nightlife . . . the Kingdom of Thailand has it all. From opulent resorts and spas to budget hotels, all tastes are accommodated in a host of stunning locations. Factor in a favorable exchange rate and suddenly extravagant touches like fireworks and baby elephants are possible additions to your wedding celebration.
Thai. Hotel and resort staff in major tourist areas will almost always speak English, as will staff of large businesses in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Fluent English speakers are very rare outside of the main city or tourist areas however.
Thai Baht. Major credit cards are accepted in large hotels, stores and restaurants. Smaller establishments will require payment in cash, as will taxi drivers. ATM machines are common in city and tourist areas, however cash should be carried outside of these regions.
95% Buddhist, 4% Islam, 1% Christian/Other
Suvarnabhumi Airport (code: BKK) is Thailand’s main international airport. Located in Bangkok, it is serviced by regular flights from the U.K. & Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Bangkok’s domestic airport, Don Mueang (DMK) is located some 45 km’s from Suvarnabhumi and several hours should be allowed to transfer between the two, either by airport shuttle or taxi. Scheduled flights operate from Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang to many regional locations, including; Chiang Mai (CNX), Ko Samui (USM), Krabi (KBV), Pattaya (VTBF), Phi Phi Island (PHZ) and Phuket (HKT), among others.
Citizens of many countries are exempted from obtaining a Thai tourist visa, provided that; their period of stay in Thailand does not exceed 30 days, they are in possession of a return ticket prior to entering Thailand, and they have at least six months validity on their passport. These exemptions may change from time to time, and all visitors to Thailand are advised to contact their local Thai Consulate to check current regulations.
Weather & Seasons
Generally speaking, Thailand has three seasons; cool, hot, and rainy. Seasons do vary from region to region however, so it’s wise to check the climate of a particular destination when choosing a wedding date or planning your travel.
The cool season runs from October/November through until March, and is the prime tourist season. Prices and bookings soar, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance if you’re planning a wedding at this time of year. Temperatures range from 26°C-29°C (high 70’s°F to low 80’s°F), with infrequent showers. The hot season follows from March until May, with temperatures in the mid 30’s°C (high 90’s°F), April being the hottest month. The rainy season runs from May/June until September, with average temperatures of 29°C (85°F) and 90% humidity. The rain generally arrives late in the afternoon, usually for no more than an hour or two although it can be torrential (something to factor in for an afternoon wedding!).
Visitors to Thailand are advised to see their doctor or local travel medicine clinic for current advice on any health risks specific to the regions they will be visiting. Malaria or Dengue Fever can be contracted from some types of mosquitos found in Thailand, however this is typically more of a concern in remote areas. Various immunizations may also be recommended from time to time, depending upon current risk factors.
Getting Legally Married in Thailand
Thailand is an extremely popular wedding destination for foreigners and a legal marriage can be arranged with relative ease and little expense. Certain formalities are required however, and the process can be lengthy. All paperwork must be lodged and processed in Thailand and couples must be aware that this usually requires a stay of at least four to five days in Bangkok. It’s also wise to allow some flexibility in your itinerary, in case there are any unforseen delays or issues with your paperwork. Couples should be aware that documents are only processed on working days, and that Embassies and Government Offices also close on Public Holidays.
It is possible to obtain the necessary paperwork and approvals yourself, however many couples use the services of a wedding coordinator. Many resorts in Thailand offer their own in house wedding coordinator, and assistance with legal issues is often included in the price of a wedding package. Couples who are unwilling or perhaps unable to spend the required amount of time in Bangkok prior to their wedding ceremony can arrange to have a legal marriage at a Registry Office in their own country prior to leaving home.
Aside from an endless array of wedding locations in Thailand, there are also many options for the style of your wedding ceremony. Traditional Buddhist ceremonies are popular, complete with blessings from monks and ancient rituals, however western-style wedding ceremonies are by far the most common option for foreigners. Wedding ceremonies conducted in hotels and resorts are usually non-religious, enabling couples to personalize their wedding by writing their own vows or including their own traditions and customs if they wish. Religious ceremonies are also possible, and Catholic, Protestant and Muslim weddings are not uncommon, although these may require the services of a specialist wedding planner to coordinate.
Following is the process to arrange a legal marriage in Thailand;
Step 1 – Statutory Declaration
Couples must visit their own Embassy in Bangkok in order to obtain a Statutory Declaration that verifies each person’s single status and freedom to marry. Each Embassy has different requirements when issuing this document and some may require additional proof of your freedom to marry, particularly if either party is widowed or divorced. Each person must visit their Embassy in Bangkok personally in order to obtain a Statutory Declaration. It is not possible to apply prior to leaving home, online, or at another Embassy. Couples are strongly advised to contact their Embassy well in advance of their wedding date, to confirm the Embassy’s requirements and to enquire about processing times. Fees will typically apply to this service and this will vary depending upon the Embassy.
Step 2 – Translation of Documents
All documents must be translated into Thai by a private translation agency. There are many in Bangkok who offer this service and most are located near the main Embassies. Fees will vary and documents can generally be translated within one to two working days.
Step 3 – Processing of Documents
Once translated into Thai, your documents must be processed and endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok. The Ministry is located in the north of Bangkok, close to Don Mueang domestic airport. Processing typically takes one to two working days and fees apply.
Step 4 – Formally Register Your Marriage
Once the above requirements have been met, you are free to formally register your marriage at any local District Office (also known as an ‘Amphur’) in any region of Thailand. You may need to make an appointment and a small fee will apply. You may also need to provide a translator, however the Amphur can sometimes arrange this. Once your paperwork has been accepted by the Amphur, you are deemed to be legally married and the date of lodgement will be recorded as your wedding date. In some instances, a wedding coordinator may be able to arrange for the Amphur to attend your wedding and finalize the paperwork during the wedding ceremony. This service is generally only available in some of the larger resorts. Your Marriage Certificate will be in Thai, however it is possible to have this translated.
Popular Wedding Destinations in Thailand
One of Asia’s most popular beach destinations, Phuket offers an abundance of picture-perfect white sand and crystal clear waters. Popular beaches include bustling Patong, in the heart of the action, buzzing with restaurants, bars and nightlife; Karon, famous for its beautiful and more sedate long beach; and the spectacular palm-lined Kata beach.
Less crowded than Phuket, but still offering plenty of action and nightlife, Ko Samui is one of Thailand’s most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations thanks to its stunning beaches and lush rainforest. Visitors will find no shortage of things to do among the numerous snorkeling spots, day spas, temples, market stalls and cooking schools.
Away from the crowds, beautiful Krabi offers a laid back, relaxing holiday destination. It is blessed with stunning natural scenery including towering limestone rock formations, secluded coves, waterfalls and unique tropical vegetation courtesy of the nearby national park.
NOTE: The information contained in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Couples should always seek the advice of their own Embassy to request accurate and up to date information on the requirements for legal marriage in Thailand. These requirements may vary, depending upon your own personal circumstances.