Koh Samui is a beautiful place to experience a dream wedding, regardless of your religious persuasion. You can be joined in matrimony in traditional western Christian, Hindu, Islamic or Thai Buddhist style, or have a non-denominational celebration. Due to some complications in the administrative side of obtaining a legal marriage certificate in Thailand, a lot of couples choose to do the formal part in their home country and the have a purely symbolic celebration on Koh Samui. Many upmarket hotels specialise in this kind of arrangement. Independent wedding planners can help to make your celebrations unique, with underwater weddings, ‘trash the dress’ weddings and practically any type you can dream up.
Western-Style Wedding Ceremonies
For most visitors to the island looking to get hitched, a western wedding will be the first choice. The allure of having a traditional European/US-style ceremony, but swapping a draughty church for a tropical beach, is a difficult one to resist. For the most part, the show is exactly the same, just with a different background.
Koh Samui does have several Christian churches (with a few different denominations represented), but the more common approach is to swap the altar for a small stage under a pergola on the beach, often decorated and strewn with flowers. Many beach hotels specialise in this kind of ceremony and will provide a secular celebrant to direct the exchange of vows and rings. Unless you go through the process of legalising your marriage, this blessing will be ceremonial only and not legally binding.
Wedding receptions, with multi-tiered cakes, toasts with champagne and live music, can also be arranged, as can wedding photographers and videographers. Bonus extras you can add include the planting of a ‘love tree’ and fireworks shows at the reception.
Islamic Wedding Ceremonies
Koh Samui has one mosque – Masjid Nurul Ihsan – which is located in the fishing town of Hua Thanon. The official aspects of an Islamic wedding can all be arranged here, including the ministrations of the Imam, the dowry presentation, the signing of the wedding certificate and the reading from the Holy Koran. Wedding planners in Samui can also arrange for a celebration party afterwards, with Halal food.
Thai-Style Wedding Ceremonies
The saying goes: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Thailand, the option is available to have a Thai wedding ceremony. You will not generally be required to convert to Buddhism to enjoy the beautiful blessings and some aspects of them can even be fitted into a western ceremony. The principle components of a Thai wedding are the water blessing and the monk blessing.
Water Blessing Ceremony
Holy water is scooped from a decorative bowl with a shell and is then poured through the clasped hands of both the bride and groom while they are sat at a small table, their elbows resting on a cushion. They will usually have a lei of flowers on their heads, with the two joined together with a length of string, signifying their coupling. The grooms parents usually pour first, followed by the bride’s, followed by the rest of the guests, each offering the congratulations and best wishes as they do so.
Commonly involving three, five, seven or nine saffron-robed monks, the blessing generally starts early in the morning (approximately 06:00), with chanting and blessing the water used later. Gifts of food and alms are presented to the monks, who are left to eat before joining the main ceremony. This involves further chanting while the senior monk sprinkles everybody present with the water. This ceremony can only be held in the morning as monks are forbidden from eating after midday.