Getting Married to a Thai Bride — Customs and Traditions —


Getting Married to a Thai Bride — Customs and Traditions

What to expect when getting married to a Thai bride including information on customs and traditions related to marriage in Thailand.

Getting married to a Thai bride may well involve customs and traditions that seem a little alien to someone from the West. Thai brides and their families may well want to follow the local customs such as Thong Mun(Gold Engagement), Kan Maak Man Procession(bringing items for engagement) and Sin Sod(Bride Price) before or during the actual marriage ceremony.

Understanding a little about these customs and traditions will hopefully help put a western bridegrooms mind at rest and show his future bride that he respects the customs and traditions associated with getting married to a Thai bride.

Thong Mun and Sin Sod

Thong Mun literally means “gold engagement” and is the equivalent to the Western custom of giving your bride to be an engagement ring. But instead of a ring in Thailand the engagement gift given to ones prospective partner is often 24 carat gold jewellery which of course could include an engagement ring if you so desired. Sometimes the gold gifts are delivered at a betrothal ceremony on Kan Maak Man trays, where the groom is introduced to the family and promises them that he will take care of their daughter. If all goes well the couple are considered “engaged to be married” at the end of the ceremony.

Sin Sod on the other hand is what might be called a dowry by a Westerner and thus frowned upon in modern-day society. However this is not the interpretation a Thai person would offer. Thai custom sees Sin Sod as a way of compensating the family for the loss of their daughter who they have cared for from birth and who on marriage will no longer contribute to the family wealth. It also provides an opportunity for the groom to show his ability to care for the families daughter.

The actual amount of the Sin Sod is negotiated between the bride and bridegrooms families quite often through a third-party. It might be in the region of 100,000 Baht for a middle class Thai family. Although the payment of Sin Sod is fairly common it is also just as common for the money to be returned in some way to the couple when they are married. This might be in the form of a parcel of land to build a new home on for example.

Sometimes the Thong Mun & Sin Sod ceremonies are completed at the actual wedding ceremony where a Kan Maak Man tray containing the money and gold, is on display and presented to the brides family. If this happens it will usually be after the religious part has been completed.

The traditional wedding ceremony

The traditional Thai wedding ceremony itself is usually conducted at the brides home with the bridegroom and his family arriving in a noisy colourful party at the appointed time. This time is often quite early and may seem odd in that it will be calculated to be a “lucky time.”

Here are a few observations that I made at a Thai wedding ceremony:

As the time approached(07:09) the bridegroom and his supporters moved nearer to the brides home. The groom accompanied by his father, shaded by a striking pink umbrella led the column. A supporter close behind was carrying a small banana tree. At the house both families engaged in a what might have seemed to a non Thai like a shouting competition, very good-humoured and lots of smiles. Basically the bridegrooms family were saying they would like to come in and the brides family were responding by asking if they had the means (the sin sod) for the brides family.

Clearly they had the Sin Sod because after a short while the head of each family met and the groom was invited to entry the brides home. In order to do this he had to pass through several virtual doorways which consisted of Thai girls hold gold braid in the grooms path. Before being allowed to pass through the doorways he had to offer the girls some money.

Once everyone was inside a religious ceremony was conducted where the couple sat in front of nine Buddhist monks(who had arrived earlier) in the living room. The monks chanted for about half an hour. Food was then presented to the monks and after they had eaten they were presented with gifts and left the house after blessing the couple.

A Kan Maak Man tray containing money and gold was then brought into the room that had been used by the monks, this signalled the start of the Sin Sod ceremony which in this case was combined with the wedding. With their immediate family gathered around them the groom offered gold to his bride, taking each piece and placing it around her neck or on her wrist. At the same time a plate containing around 50,000 Baht was also offered to the parents of the bride by the father of the bridegroom.

The last part of the Thai wedding and Sin Sod ceremony involved a ritual of pouring water on the hands of the couple by family and friends to bring them good luck. During the water pouring the couple were seated together and joined by a white thread to symbolise their union. With the formal part of the wedding ceremony over the guests and newly weds enjoyed a wedding breakfast together followed by a reception in the evening.

Although the couple were officially married in the eyes of family and friends such ceremonies are not legally binding. To make them so a short civil ceremony at the local Amphur office is required.

Customs and Traditions

Westerners might like to note that traditional Thais would never ask for Tong Mun or Sin Sod, it is not expected, but if it is offered it is greatly appreciated especially if the family is not wealthy or have strong family values.

True Sin Sod is not about money, it’s a gesture, a Thai tradition, that demonstrates commitment to your bride and your new family.

That said it is also important for the family and their standing within the community and failure to offer Sin Sod could cause them and your future bride a much loss of face. Not the best way to start married life in the Land of Smiles!

In Thailand wedding presents usually consist of money. With each guest/party handing over an envelope containing a gift which is often used to help pay for the festivities.

Interesting, Lifestyle

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