While getting married in the wonderful surroundings of Koh Samui is a dream-come-true, most ceremonies are purely symbolic and the wedding certificate you are given will be just for show. It is possible to have a legal wedding in Samui, but most couples choose to do the official part of it in their home country and have a big celebration in Thailand.
The process for getting legally married in Thailand is quite long and involves visits to government offices in Bangkok. Some wedding planners can do most of the legwork for you (at a cost), leaving you free to enjoy your last few days of ‘unweddedness’ in relative peace. If you want to do it for yourself, you will need the following documents with you:
- Original Birth Certificates
- Certificate of Divorce, if previously married
Visit Your Embassy
The first thing you will need is a Letter of Intent, sometimes called a Statutory Declaration. This is a form, obtained from your country’s embassy in Bangkok, declaring that you are legally free to marry. In most cases, this step can be done in a single day, but some embassies may ask you to return the following day to collect the completed letter. You will need to get this document translated into Thai. Embassies do not offer this service, but there are numerous translation services available in Bangkok, which will charge 700 to 1,000 baht for the work.
Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
From this point on, none of the process requires your personal input and can all be dealt with by a wedding planner. Given that a lot of it requires the ability to communicate in Thai, getting some help is a highly-recommended choice. If you really want to do it all yourself, you will now need to submit your Letter of Intent (and the translation) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This can be done by post, but it is a lot quicker to do it in person by visiting their office in the north of Bangkok, close to Don Muang Airport. There is a fee for the approval service, which can take as little as a few hours or as much as a few days.
Once your intention to marry is approved by the ministry, you will be given a collection of documents. Take these with you to Koh Samui, where you will need to visit the District (‘Amphur’, in Thai) Office on Thaweerat Pakdee Road in Ang Thong. You will need to answer some simple questions and sign a few documents and then that’s it – you’re married! If you would like the official part of the wedding to take place at your ceremony, it is possible to arrange for the registrar to attend, at an additional cost. In order to make your marriage valid in your home country, you will need to have your Thai Wedding Certificate translated into your native language. Again, there are numerous services available for this.