Attending a Traditional Thai Wedding in Chiangrai
In Bangkok, it is often rare to see a traditional Thai wedding. Most people would often have a westernised wedding at a hotel and simplify the formalities but in the countryside one can still witness such a grand Thai event. I was in Chiangrai again, the most northern province of Thailand, for a wedding of a hotel and alcohol duty free heiress. In Thailand, the groom has to provide a dowry to the bride’s family for taking her away from her parents’ home. Therefore the groom has to make an entourage and walk to the bride’s house with the dowry and ask the bride’s family for permission to take the girl away. For this wedding, the groom had to come to the hotel of the girl’s family.
When the groom arrived at the bride’s establishment, he is blocked from entering. People would use their gold necklaces and belts to prevent the groom from entering. These gold necklaces are called the golden and silver gates in Thailand. To pass through these gates, the groom must answer the questions of the people blocking him and give out envelopes with money inside. Once the groom passed through the gate, the most respected elder of the girl’s side, not neccesarily a family member, would welcome the groom and his entourage.
Once the groom comes inside, the bride would be waiting inside on a carpet surrounded by couches for the parents and the respected elders. The groom would bring his dowry for the girl onto the carpet and start the ceremony. Then the groom and his family present the dowry to the bride’s side of the family. The dowry for this wedding included cash, gold bars, land and a wedding ring. In Thailand, the dowry would often be negotiated before the wedding. After the presentation of the dowry, the bride’s family would inspect it to see that the sum stated by the groom is indeed correct. Then the elders on both side of the family would sprinkle flowers on this dowry to bless this wealth. The symbolism behind this gesture is that they hope the wealth would sprout, grow and blossom like flowers.
After the whole dowry formality, the groom would put the wedding ring on for the bride and vice versa. Then the groom would kiss on the cheek of the bride. Thai people are a bit shy when it comes to public display of affection. After this the groom and bride would pay their respect to each elder and the elders would provide the husband and bride with gifts of cash, jewelries and even a car. The couple actually got a Mercedes from the bride’s aunt.
If you look at the outfit of the guests, most people wore traditional Thai silk, even some of the men. For the women on the bride’s side of the family, everyone would wear a silk shawl, signifying the bride’s northern Thai lineage. The bride’s also had guests from Myanmar and Laos so they also wore their traditional garments as well. The bride also wore a traditional blue silk sewn into a skirt with an embroidered lace blouse. The groom is actually a police officer so he wore his official formal uniform for the occasion. In my case, I wore my traditional Thai trousers, and I matched the green of the trousers with a handcrafted brooch from a Thai artisan made from a certain kind of green beetle. People were actually saying that I trying to steal the spotlight from the groom and maybe I was. hehe