Thai Wedding of Our Wedding World Tour!
The second of the four weddings on our Wedding World Tour took place in Lampang, Thailand on 18 February 2011 … just one week to the day after our first USA ceremony.
It’s only been a week, but since we had unbelievably great flights on Emirates, toured Chiang Mai and saw the most amazing temple, swam with elephants, and learned Thai cooking. Now, after so much anticipation, is at last the big (second) wedding day!
We started off very early from Papa’s house — about 5:30 am — for our wedding clothing, hair and makeup. While the girls got ready, I took a walk around the block and discovered the town center: an old clock tower, surrounded by a fire station and fountains. The sun was coming up on a beautiful Thai day, horse-drawn carriages passed on the streets, and monks made their morning begging rounds. All in all … a beautiful way to start the day.
(If you can’t see the rest of the pictures, click through below.)
I returned to the wedding-rental place to witness the transformation of April and my best friend Missy. Wow! The hair and makeup artists there were truly amazing.
At around 7:30 am we travelled back to Papa’s house, just a few minutes away. A large crowd of people awaited. April was scurried upstairs to “secretly” wait for me, hiding in the bathroom and peeking out …
… while I was ushered down the street. We blocked the two-lane road as a small band of drummers started playing. My existing and newly-adoptive family joined me in the road, and we paraded back down the road to the house, a rowdy, happy bunch, me in my beautiful silk wedding wear, preceded by my mom and husband Jack in their wedding gear, surrounded by about 30 people. As we got to the house, the entrance was blocked. Traditionally, this is where the bride’s family demands proof that the groom is worthy of the bride. So immediately the questions began. April’s new family challenged me (in Thai), and my new family replied (again, in Thai). Soon, there was just a bunch of people shouting at each other — not in anger, but certainly playing the parts, and caught up in the passion of arguing my way in. I was slipped a few envelopes with money, and gave those to the challengers to ease my way in. Only when Jack gave his very large GOLD flower pot in exchange for the bridal family’s SILVER flower pot did they let us into the compound.
But a moment later I was at the stairs to our “home,” where April and the girls awaited … and again, another group of her family challenged me and my family. We gave a few more envelopes as the drums, arguing, and celebrations all continued. Finally, they let me take a step up, and let April take a step out of her room. She slowly came down the stairs, bowed, and briefly washed my feet before we headed inside for the ceremony.
Once inside, we knelt at the shrine, three times bowing our heads to Buddha. As we arose, three dots of ash were put on our foreheads, and we could see the room. It was intensely decorated: a large, pink backdrop had our names on it in painted styrofoam, as well as the Thai date. Chairs had been covered for us to sit on, and frilly heart-shaped pillows placed in front for us. A corner had been curtained off, but we could see behind that a bed.Â Flowers were everywhere. As much of the town as possible was in the room.
We were seated on the chairs and the Officiant began his “sermon.” I quote the word because I actually have no idea what was said … it was in machine-gun fire rapid Thai, and although it seemed interesting, half the room was talking amongst themselves or on their cell phones.
Next was the string-tying ceremony. We had heard about this, and thought that it meant that one string was tied around each of our wrists. We were partially right.
An elderly man came up to the table in front of our chairs. He took a silk string from Missy, who sat on April’s left. He tied it first to April’s wrist, then left about 6-inches of string and tied it to mine, so that we were tied together. As he was doing so, he gave us advice. Then April and I bowed down, with a Thank You to him. Wrists tied … string tying ceremony done! Right?
April and I looked to see where Missy was getting her strings. We noticed that there was a bowl of white, full of a spaghetti of strings. We gave each other one of those “uh oh!’ looks, as we realized that we might not be able to move from our perch for quite a while, what with hundreds of strings overflowing the bowl.
In order of age, it seems, one-after-another each person in the room knelt at the table in front of us, took a string from Missy, and tied my wrist to hers, or vice-versa. Each one gave us advice, and — so kindly! — some even had presents for us! This was really an unexpected, wonderful time … Â hearing their kind words and advice. (We frequently heard “have baby, have baby!”, by the way.) We loved every moment of it, and soon our hearts were overflowing with not just our joy, but that of the whole community.
Soon, though, our wrists got tied tighter and tighter, until they were touching. This would be fine, but every time we went to bow a thank you, we hit our heads together!
Somewhere in the midst (I don’t recall if this were before or after the string ceremony), we exchanged wedding rings. (I doubt this was a part of the traditional ceremonies, but seems to be an adopted Western tradition.) April had purchased me a new Thai ring, which was perfect since I lost my “adventure ring” when we were swimming with the elephants.
After everyone had given us their blessing, one final string was tied, which held both of us, the other end held by the officiant. He led us by that string over to the bed n the corner of the room. We could see that they had decorated the bed with flowers in the shape of a heart, as well as coins to symbolize abundance. We sat on the side of the bed and the officiant, with a blessing, broke one of the strings holding us together.
Then mom broke a string, followed by Jack, Missy, April’s brother and sister, etc. Finally, it was our turn. We pulled and tugged and snapped the rest of the strings tying our hands together, and left a very large bracelet of silk on each of our wrists.
Mom and Jack were then told that they needed to show us how to properly lay in bed! You should’ve seen the look on their faces … about the same look that passed across our faces as they told us that now it was OUR turn to lay in the bed and cuddle. (Apparently, having babies is a very key component of Thai marriage!) A few pictures later…
… and that was it! The official ceremony was over. We had a few minutes together, then went down to a very happy group. They were signing and eating, and we joined them for a fantastic lunch. (I’m not sure, but I’d guess there were around 100 people at lunch … nearly as big as our US wedding.) We sat on pillow chairs, loved the food, and loved the company.
The sense of peace, joy, and community at the Thai ceremony was something completely different than we had felt at our USA wedding. The Western wedding was fun — a lot of fun! — and we did our best to make it as spiritual as the format allowed. And we loved having all of our friends and family there. But in hindsight, the Thai ceremony just felt more authentic, more spiritual, more down-to-earth. At last, we finally felt married, and were amazed at the generosity, joy, and spirit of the Thai people. Having two ceremonies (so far) left us feeling more well-rounded, and with a deeper, new understanding of Â the word “community.” We were married once again, falling deeper in love, committed even more strongly, and understanding just a bit more of ourselves and the world around us.
See below for some pictures to “fill in the gaps” … next up: The Village Party!!!