This Thai-western wedding reception was the culmination of many months of wedding traditions and practices here in Thailand. The couple began talking about marriage about a year ago, but the groom had to save money for the dowry first. How much might the dowry be? I guess it depends on the family and the financial status of the man. As an example, when the bride's sister got married last year, the groom (who's also American like my colleague, and makes "a lot" of money by Thai standards) paid one million baht (or a little over $30,000 USD, depending on the exchange rate) for the dowry, but my colleague paid "only" 500,000 baht (he's very open about personal matters!).
Then, a few months prior to the wedding and reception, he and his fiancee went to a shop, rented various outfits, and had "pre-wedding" pictures taken. They dressed in both western and Thai outfits. His fiancee paid a lot of money to have her hair and make-up done professionally (which my colleague disliked; he likes the "natural look," he says). Some of these pictures were a little goofy, but some were beautiful. They also had a "traditional" Thai-style picture taken, with both of them in traditional Thai outfits, her sitting in a throne-like chair, and him standing beside her, holding her hand. According to him, every Thai couple has a blown-up picture of themselves similar to this, hanging over their beds.
|A "goofy" pre-wedding picture. The bride is a knockout!|
|The wedding ceremony.|
|The village wedding reception and banquet.|
|The billboard announcing the couple's reception.|
|The greenhouse-restaurant where the western reception was held.|
I really enjoyed the party; I loved how casual and fun it was. It also was a great chance to see another side of my colleagues that I rarely see -- for example, it was funny to see my department chair completely drunk and uncensored. It was endearing to see the Thai people unused to dancing and other western traditions enjoying themselves. My son had a great time meeting and playing with a couple of Thai kids who are nieces and nephews of the bride, even though none of them spoke any English. And of course, the food was delicious and plentiful. I only wish I could've attended the traditional Thai wedding reception to experience an authentic Thai wedding.