There are two styles of Thai marriage.
The traditional Buddhist style of marriage normally will take place previous to you getting legally married so do not mistake this as a legal marriage as no papers are signed it is only to show respect for your Thai partners family and also Thai tradition.
The first being the Thai traditional or Buddhist style of marriage
This style of marriage is not recognized by any law but means you are married in the eyes of your Thai partners family. The traditional style of marriage is normally performed in your Thai partners home town and in traditional Thai dress with her friends and all family in attendance. It normally involves starting the day very early getting ready for the mornings proceedings including a starting parade away from your Thai partners home and is done by the groom and the males attending the wedding in the procession you carry gifts and normally a dowry which is a money offering to the parents of your Thai partner which is agreed before the wedding takes place, this is a Thai tradition that has been around for hundreds of years and is a sign of respect and also in days gone by it was given because it was believed that you as the groom was taking the daughter away from working so she would no longer be able to work if you had children together and she can no longer support her parents as she will leave her employment. Some foreigners do not like this idea as times have moved on but you will see that the dowry is still given in 95% of Thai traditional marriages. The procession finishes at your Thai partners home were you are met by strings that will be only taken away if you give a money offering normally to the elders of the village or family which really is a bit of fun.
You then are allowed to sit with your bride to be and it is normally then that you will give offerings and food to 9 Buddhist monks who will bless your marriage with Buddhist chants and blessings with holy water. You then give the Dowry and gifts to the parents of your Thai wife normally includes money and gold depending on what you all agree previous to the wedding proceedings. After this you will normally do the water pouring ceremony which includes every body attending the wedding pouring water on your clasped hands which is a sign of their respect and the person pouring the water giving you their blessing and good luck for the future. Following this service you then will normally take many photographs and eat lunch and the party begins were everyone celebrates your marriage and happy proceedings. It will be a day to remember and should really be done from respect and for the Buddhist blessings for your future “but please remember this is not recognized by law or Thai law” just your Thai partners family.
The things you should take in to consideration before getting married in the traditional way.
1, Is it what you really wish to do, in the respect that some foreigners believe that them taking care of their future wife financially is enough to satisfy her parents so make it clear you do not wish to do the Traditional marriage until maybe later or not at all.
2, Always agree on the dowry amount given to the parents before marriage so no disagreements unfold, In some cases families will return some of the money given, some will not, some will give all back but depends on your discussions.
3, Make sure your relationship with your Thai partner is for keeps and is genuine and long standing because you do not want to be handing over large amounts of Thai baht to find yourself single again shortly after!!
4, Have security on at your party as you may find unwanted guests from your Thai wife’s village turning up for free food and alcohol which could turn in to a nasty problem during the day or evening.
5, Always put a capping on the alcohol supplied as Thai guests like the whisky and again you would no wish for trouble at the end of the party.
You will find the day enjoyable and an experience you will never forget, stick to your Thai wife like glue and she will look after you and so will her family “but enjoy” and remember it is huge respect for your Thai wife’s parents.