Almost seven years ago, I came to Thailand on an exchange and was lucky enough to stay with the Leetrakool family. My Thai sister Daow invited me to her wedding this year, which was an event I could not miss and a perfect way to begin my trip! A Thai wedding is very different to the usual Australian weddings and I will try to explain it but as I did not have a translator, the following is only what I understood of the day.
I arrived 3 days before the big day when final preparations were in full swing. The day was to consist of a morning part and an evening reception. The morning part would take place at Daow’s parents house and they were expecting about 100-150 people. The following photos show the lead up.
The wedding was on the Saturday and started at 6am, but much earlier for the bride who had to have her hair and makeup done. As an interesting side note, both the bride and groom underwent whitening as in Thailand tanned skin is considered to mean you are poor and have had to work in the sun, while white skin is considered to be mean you are rich and therefore much more beautiful! I can imagine them being very confused at an australian wedding where fake tan is the norm! The monks arrived on time but poor Daow was an hour late, this did not seem to matter too much though.
Daow and Tooey (the groom) run a business delivering ice and drinks to restaurants. Tooey continued to work every day (6am to 5pm) leading up to the day and even worked the day after. After work every day there were numerous wedding details to oversee and I don’t think he or the bride had much sleep leading up to the day.
Before the actual wedding day, Daow and Tooey had photos taken in numerous wedding outfits. Some of these were put on display for the guests to see. Notice the billboard sized one, which ended up being graffitied with well wishes by guests.
There was then another blessing (or prayer) on the street to the ancestors, asking for forgiveness for any past wrongdoing and their blessing for their future family. Notice the guests in the background sitting outside the front of the house.
After everyone had eaten, including the monks who left once they had finished, Tooey and his family and friends left the house and came back in a sort of march, singing and yelling. They arrived back at Daow’s house, where they were met by friends of Daow who held out pieces of jewellery, blocking his entry to the house. Tooey then needed to pay everyone off so that he could enter. I did not get a good photo of the march as I was one of the people who would not let him pass. There were also two family members with microphones commentating on what was going on, I was forced to speak Thai into a microphone saying that he could not pass but by everyone’s laughter I think I must have said something else!
Tooey was finally allowed into the house, where on entering Daow’s brother poured water on his feet. There was then a presentation of the dowry from Tooey’s family to Daow’s. When I say presentation, it really was presented beautifully with the money artfully arranged with flower petals and gold jewellery!
Tooey then asked to see his bride, where upon Daow’s family members showed him other girls (including me) where he would say no, that’s not the right one! Finally they brought Daow out and he gave her a ring.
The senior or important family members then each came up and tied a piece of string around Daow and Tooey’s wrists, blessed them and touched them on their heads. Daow and Tooey then gave a gift in exchange to thank them.
Then there were photos with everyone! Here are just a few…
After everyone had had their photo with the couple, the last ceremony took place in Daow’s bedroom and was possibly the strangest!
Daow then showed her respect and thanks for her new husband who would work hard to look after her.
Everyone else had a nap too until preparations for the evening reception began. The evening reception was much more similar to our receptions in Australia. Except for a few things. The movie of the morning ceremony (already edited) was played and followed by another movie which showed how Daow and Tooey met and basically their love story. At the end of the movie, it showed interviews with Daow and Tooey separately which even with my basic Thai I could understand how much they loved each other and how happy they made each other. Daow cried when she watched Tooey speak about her. It really was beautiful. There was then some speeches and some more western traditions including the cutting of the cake and the throwing of the bouquet (to which the girls really did scream and fight for!). There were about 500 guests and after the presentation the couple went around to each table of guests, said their thanks, gave more gifts and had more photos. Their stamina was incredible! Here are some of the photos below.