With warm weather, tropical locations and a host of romantic settings to choose from, it’s no surprise that Thailand is a magnet for couples looking to get married. But there is one location in southern Thailand that has taken a novel approach to couples tying the knot. Instead of a beach wedding, couples dive below the waves to take their wedding vows.
The Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony was originally a one-off event held in the mid 1990s when one couple decide they wanted to do something different and get married underwater. The idea soon caught on and in 2000 the Trang Underwater Wedding gained official recognition from the Guinness Book of Records as the largest underwater wedding in the world.
Couples travel from overseas and all parts of Thailand to take part in the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony and they are treated like VIPs from the moment they arrive in Bangkok. A special flight takes the couples down to Trang where they are greeted by Thai dancers and showered with flower petals. The couples, dressed in traditional Thai costumes, are also the star attraction in a procession through the streets of Trang town with local people lining the street to wish them well.
Valentine’s Day wedding
The Trang Underwater Wedding takes place annually from February 13th-15th with the actual wedding ceremony being performed on Valentine’s Day, February 14. On Valentine’s Day the wedding couples are taken by boat to the island of Ko Kradan. The boats themselves actually form the traditional khan maak procession with dancers and musicians on the boat. A blessing ceremony is held on Ko Kradan which includes the rod nam sang ceremony where water is poured from a conch shell over the hands of the bride and groom to wish them luck.
Only qualified divers are permitted to take part in the underwater weeding ceremony and some of the divers will wear their wedding dress or suit in addition to their scuba gear. A representative of the district office is also present underwater to observe proceedings. Once the ceremony is complete, the officer hands the happy couple their waterproof marriage certificate.
Although couples are given a wedding certificate, it’s purely for ceremonial purposes. For any wedding to be legally recognised in Thailand paperwork must be completed in the dry and less romantic setting of the local district office (amphur).
The Trang Underwater Wedding is organised by the Trang Chamber of Commerce and earns a lot of publicity for the province of Trang and the lovely little island of Ko Kradan. Trang officials say they are keen to promote eco-tourism and the location of the underwater wedding is carefully chosen so that no damage is caused to the marine environment.
Organisers of the Trang Underwater Wedding say that the event is open to people of all races, creeds and sexuality. Couples already married can still take part in the event by renewing their vows. Gay couples have taken part in the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony, but at the time of writing same-sex marriage is not legally recognised in Thailand.
Contact Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Trang for more details:
Tel: 07534 6575-6