A Traditional Thai Isaan Wedding

I recently went back to Thailand for my little sister’s wedding so I would like to take this opportunity to share my Thai Isaan traditional wedding with you.
The wedding was held at our home town in Chaiyaphum, a small province in Northeast Thailand (Isaan) where both my sister and I were born and raised and where our parents and relatives liveWe decided to do it the old way in which we prepared as much as we could ourselves instead of paying a wedding organiser or catering business. I think this way is more significant and memorable.
The wedding was a small wedding as my sister later had a reception to celebrate with her friends from where she now works and lives. While we only invited close relatives and friends, when I said a small wedding there were still over hundred guests!
A day before the wedding my relatives and neighbours prepared some essential ingredients to make foods on the day such as curry paste, chilli powder, grounded roasted rice.
My mum and other older ladies made sticky rice and banana wrapped in banana leaves (Khow tom mud) as a dessert.

sticky rice and banana wrapped in banana leaves (Khow tom mud)

Dad and other male relatives set up the tent and the area to welcome the guests.
In the evening my big sister, my cousin and I went to the market to get the fresh ingredients for the wedding day. An example of the shopping list was 100 kg of pork!
On the wedding day my day started at 3 am! I was helping in the kitchen alongside other relatives and neighbours. I was just a kitchen hand leaving the cooking job to the more experienced cook, the wife of the head of the village. She did a wonderful job. The food was ready by 6am with some packed in plastic bags to take away for the guests that could not stay to eat at our home.
While we were busy in the kitchen the bride was up early as well to get herself ready for her special day. There was a makeup artist who came to our home to assist with the makeup and get the dress right. My sister looked beautiful in her traditional Thai dress.
Before 7am monks walked past our home, and the bride and groom were waiting to offer the food and get a blessing from the monks for their wedding day.

Offering food and blessings from monks

The guests started to arrive about around 7am. Yes I know it seems very early but this is how it works.
There is no such thing as gifts in our traditional weddings, but the guests will put some money in the envelope that is sent out with the invitation card to give to my parents as a helpful donation for the event. There were however thank you gifts to give back to the guests which were carved soaps made by my sister’s friends.

Carved Soap Gifts for Guests

The ceremony started when the groom with his family and friends made a short distance walk to our home passing “Pra tu ngen – Pra tu tong”, which literally means “silver and gold gate”. This is symbolic as a barrier of love that eventually the groom will get though.

Before entering the house the groom will get his feet washed by my nephew, meaning the washing away of bad luck and a welcome to family.

Picture

The groom walked into the house and sat alongside the bride, followed by a presentation of dowry (sin sod) ceremony. A dowry is money from the groom to the bride’s parents as a thank you for raising the bride.
The amount of money depends on how much the two families agree prior the wedding.

Sin Sod- Presentation of the dowry ceremony

Next is the “Bai Sri Su Khawn” ceremony. The Bai Sri Su Khawn ceremony is traditionally practiced amongst the people of the North and Northeast of Thailand, and is similar in Lao culture. This ceremony is for the blessing and recall of spirits. The components of the ceremony include a tray decorated with folded beautiful banana leaves and a Master of Ceremonies (Mor Khawn). Mor Khawn chanting is in both Thai and Pali languages.
The meaning of the chanting mostly teaches the couple about married life and blesses them.

Bai Sri Su Khawn Ceremony

The ceremony ends with families and guests binding the wrist of the groom and bride with white cotton to wishing them good luck and money can (and was) given to them to start their new family. The groom’s family will receive gifts from the bride, usually handmade silk clothes, traditionally made by the bride.
The ceremony finished before lunch time and after that it was clean up time.
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