My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.



In Thailand, there are two forms of marriage; most people will go through both.  "Marriage before Buddha" is usually performed at the bride's home village and combines a religious ceremony and a traditional party.  This ceremony has NO LEGAL standing in Thailand or anywhere else in the world.  I'll add a description of the traditional ceremony in a moment.

The legal marriage consists of both parties registering their marriage in person with the local Thai Amphoe (similar to a civil registry office ).  The USA does recognize the validity of such a marriage.  There are also benefits relating to immigration, insurance, and taxes.  The steps required for an American citizen follow:

To marry a Thai citizen or a foreigner, you must:

1.  Complete an
Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry at the American Embassy in Bangkok or Consulate in Chiang Mai.  Forms are available on request & also the Thai equivalent.  The form must be completed & notorized (USD $55 or baht equivalent) at the Embassy or consulate.

2.  Have the completed affidavit translated into Thai.

3.  Take the affidavit and translation to the Information Department, Legalization Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 123 Changwattana Road, Thungsonghong, Laksi, Bangkok 10210, Tel: (00-66) 02 575-1057-8 for certification.  Legalization takes 3 working days.

4.  Take the affidavit & supporting documents to a local Amphoe and register yourself as married.  The Amphoe will also require the following:

  • (a)  Your valid American Passport.

  • (b)  Certified copy of termination of your previous marriages, if any (divorce decree or death certificate) with Thai translation.

  • (c)  If either party is under 20 years old, parents' presence or written permission ( with Thai translation if necessary) is required.

I've found a few other helpful tips on various forums and websites, namely:
"...make a Thai copy and then to Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have it registered as an international legal document.  After you receive the stamped copy you are free to register your marriage at any district office.  If you do not speak Thai you should have someone with you that does (other than the wife) as they need you to understand what you sign.  Two witnesses are also required but they can often be found among the office staff and a small lunch payment might be in order.  There is no direct charge."

"Remember to take 1 translator / witness with you to the Amphur's office.  I didn't do this and had to come back another day.  Also everything has to be translated.  If you are divorced you have to fill out other papers. takes about 2-3 days total including embassy visit.  There are people that can do it all for you but it isn't worth the money as long as you have the time."

Required Documents

  • Identification Cards of both parties.

  • The House Registration Certificates of both parties.

If an alien is registering to be married to a Thai citizen or another alien, he or she is required to submit following documents.

  • A copy of their passport.

  • A Letter of Certification, issued by an Embassy or Consulate or a Government Organization from their country, regarding the marital status of the person.  The Letter must be translated, then certified by the relevant Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


  • Marriage registration can be filed at any District Office or Minor District Office nationwide regardless of the birthplace of the couple.

  • Once the marriage registration is completed, each party will be given a copy of the Marriage Registration Certificate as evidence.

  • If the marriage registration is filed at the District Office located in female's birthplace (where the name is registered on the House Registration Certificate), the title used with the forename and the last name of the female will be changed by the District Officer.  The female is required to file for a new Identification Card within 60 days.  A service fee of 10 baht is required.  If the marriage is registered elsewhere, the female is required to contact the local District Office to change her name and last name, as well as filing for a new Identification Card.  If both parties are unable to file for marriage at any District Office of Minor District Office, the couple can submit a request to the Registrar to register their marriage at any location under the supervision of that District Office.  The parties filing for marriage are required to provide transportation for the Registrar.  A service fee of 200 baht is required.

(The last requirement about having to change the ID card is interesting; they don't change the surname but just adjust the Thai equivalent of "Miss" to "Mrs."  If I read the legalese correctly, we will need to have the card changed in Tim's home district of Lamphun rather than in Phuket where we will probably have the marriage registered.)

For many reasons, Tim and I have decided that we will travel to Bangkok within the next month to obtain the documents required to register our marriage.  I doubt if we will wait very long after that to actually go to the Amphoe (also Romanized as Amphur) here in Phuket to get the marriage certificates.

But it won't be for at least another year until we have the traditional ceremony.  This is because I would like a few members of my family to attend.  Because of health reasons, my stepmother may not be able to travel such a long distance so her and Dad may not be able to attend at all; Tim and I know that we have their complete support and love and they will be here in spirit if not in body.  My sister's family only have a limited amount of vacation time each year and, of course, I wouldn't want my nephew to miss any school.  Because of this, we've decided to place the choosing of suitable dates with Marilyn and her family.  If it means we won't have the ceremony until 2007 or 2008, then that's fine with us.  It will give us more time to establish our home.  Once they choose a time period that's "right" for them, we can then check with the monks for an auspicious day for the actual ceremony within that chosen period.

The traditional ceremony does differ a bit from province to province (we'll be having ours in Lamphun Province, near Chaing Mai, as this is where Tim comes from and her family remains).  I found the following description on the Pattaya Pages:
The Traditional Ceremony
What's going to happen on the big day?  The traditional ceremony differs from province to province and contains a number of different elements.  Depending on the area you are in and the amount you have spent all or some of what follows may be included.  Some richer Thais are also having traditional Western white weddings as well.  However, in most cases you will have the traditional Thai wedding as described below.

Things should be getting underway by 6am so get a good nights sleep before.  Like in the West, it's considered bad luck to sleep at the bride's house on the night before the wedding.  If you do, you will have to sneak away early for the first part of the ceremony.

The first thing you have to do is come to the bride's house.  You should have a pre-arranged meeting point a few hundred meters from her house where members of her family and invited guests will be waiting to accompany you.  A procession, perhaps with musical accompaniment will then proceed to the house.  As you get closer, local villagers and family members will try to block your way.  This is the money door and you must pay some money or give gifts to get through (remember to take a pocketfull of 100-baht notes).  Once you have passed this obstacle you arrive at the bride's house where a special seating platform has been set up.

Sitting alone on the platform the bride's family will approach you for the dowry.  You must hand this over and a special committee will carefully count the money and announce to the brides family how much it is.  They will (hopefully) say it is sufficient and the bride can now come out from hiding and take her place on the platform.  The groom now proceeds to the bride's bedroom, with his male friends to have a mini party in her room.  She stays outside and will be presented with some gifts and have string wrapped around her wrist for good luck.  Eventually the groom comes out of the bedroom to sit with his new wife.

A special head piece will be attached to bride and groom connecting them together.  The marriage celebrant, usually a local headman, will now chant some sanskrit verses for good luck.  This can go on for a long time.

Following this the bride and groom proceed back to the bride's bedroom where they get into bed together.  Family and friends will visit and leave small gifts and money on the bed.  Photos of a kiss or two can also be arranged.  Once every one has visited the bedroom the bride and groom gather up all the money.  Some say whoever gathers the most will be the boss in the new relationship.

At last it's time to eat and drink.  Although still relatively early in the morning, the beer will flow and everyone will eat their fill.

Later in the day, or sometimes, incorporated into the main ceremony, nine monks will hold a prayer meeting with lots of chanting.  This brings good vibes for the newlyweds and often incorporates some prayers for deceased relatives or friends.

Throughout the day, food will be served and drinks drunk.  People will come and go.  It's a good idea to catch some rest in the afternoon to fortify yourself for the serious eating and partying that will begin again in the early evening.  Often a Thai band will be hired, complete with dancing girls for the nighttime festivities and certainly a lot of alcohol will be drunk.  This is also a time for official speech making.  Expect to get dragged up on stage and have various family members and local dignitaries make long speeches.  It would be nice if you could learn a short reply in Thai to thank everyone for coming.  Expect the party to go on all night.

Remember that the above description is of one wedding.  The timing, order and nature of the various events can change and in the case of a farang being the groom often are.  It's quite OK to discuss the various bits and pieces beforehand and to work out your own ceremony based on what you are comfortable with and what you can afford.
I seem to remember reading an even better description of the variety of ceremonies in one of my Thai culture books recently.  If I can find it again, I'll transcribe it and post in the blog.

The ceremony sounds like a lot of fun and I look forward to experiencing it along with any family and friends from America who can attend.  I'm sure that Tim's friends will also caravan up North when we do have the traditional wedding.  For now, I'm looking forward to getting the legal part done before I begin school at the end of August.