This is Thailand, where ancient tradition, modern chic and a passion for perfection create magical weddings and honeymoons. Toast to love on a skyscraper rooftop, share vows at a golden shrine and cuddle in a glass-enclosed boudoir that seems to float on water. From the frenzy of Bangkok to the artistic serenity of Chiang Mai to the natural beauty of Phuket, romance is all around.
It’s easy to set up a wedding in Thailand, said Karen Hogue, a Thailand wedding and honeymoon specialist and owner of Wonderful World Journeys based in Seattle. “Plan a few days in Bangkok for the paperwork, then escape to wherever your hearts desire.” Thailand weddings are legally recognized in the U.S., she added.
High Style in Bangkok
What better way to begin your new life journey than by sipping champagne on top of the world? Vertigo, Bangkok’s trendiest (and highest) nightspot, tops the narrow 61st floor outdoor rooftop of the Banyan Tree Bangkok Hotel. The stars are above, the lights of Bangkok below. It’s so cool you’ll expect James Bond to alight by helicopter.
Down on the ground, follow Cupid’s arrow — in a tuk-tuk (open-air motorized three-wheel rickshaws) — to Ratchaprasong intersection, Bangkok’s busiest, and the Trimurti Shrine, a.k.a. “Lovers’ Shrine.” The locals believe eternal love is granted to those who pray here. For maximum impact, arrive at night and offer red roses, a red candle (red means love to the Thais), incense and a prayer.
Bangkok’s fashion scene and abundance of skilled, speedy tailors and fine fabric shops offer the opportunity to realize your wedding gown dreams. Choose a modern or traditional Thai gown — custom-made (at a fair price).
“Why pack, when you can buy the right clothes in Thailand as you go,” said Bangkok-born and L.A.-based fashion designer Koi Suwannagate, who’s worn by celebs including Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey.
Nai Chan fabrics in the posh Paragon fashion mall offers sumptuous textiles and recommended tailors. Sukhumvit Road brims with fabric/tailor shops. And many hotels such as the Four Seasons Bangkok have in-house bridal consultants.
Cultural beliefs add to the charm of choosing traditional wedding attire.
“I need to know the day the bride was born,” explained “Jit” Somchit Srimoon, owner of Thailand Weddings, a Chiang Mai-based destination wedding planner, who custom-makes traditional wedding dresses for many of her U.S. brides. For the Thais, each day has a color associated with it. “Sunday is red, so if you were born on Sunday, wearing a red gown would bring you the most prosperity and happiness,” Srimoon explained.
Charmed in Chiang Mai
The historic Lanna culture infuses Chiang Mai and its emerald hills with gracious beliefs, artistic craftsmanship and a love for
elephants — the perfect recipe for an unforgettable ceremony.
Many couples, such as Hollie Lobosky, 36, and Marc Castleman, 40, of Venice, escape to Chiang Mai to share simple yet exotic ceremonies.
Arranged by Srimoon, their Dec. 20, 2010, wedding day embraced Lanna traditions. Beginning with purchasing food and lotus flowers to present to the monks at sunrise, it continued with a private elephant ride in the hills, formal blessings by a monk in a countryside temple largely unknown to visitors, and together releasing a bird into the sky and fish into the river for prosperity. Their day then culminated with a traditional Thai wedding ceremony, including blessings by local village elders and the release of Kongming (candle-lit rice paper lanterns) into the air.
“As we watched the lanterns disappearing into the night sky, it hit us that we were a married couple. We felt serene and as one,” Lobosky recalled.
Stay downtown to best experience the soul of Chiang Mai, recommended Hogue. The sumptuous Chedi Chiang Mai hotel, just two blocks from the famous night markets, is honeymoon perfect, with suites overlooking the Mae Ping River, a luxe Thai spa and romantic restaurant in the circa 1913 former British Embassy.