For once in my life I am writing about something I actually know something about. Actually two things - Thailand and Weddings. (Without going into detail I've a fair bit of experience at the latter!)
The recent Kuoni 2013 Travel Trends report put Thailand in 6th place in best places to get married (or technically, the 6th most popular place their customers were flying to this year in order to get married).
Oh no, I can see you already thinking Hangover 2 and recoiling in fear and horror ...
But let me set your mind at ease.
You see I got married (again) just a few months ago. We were thinking Chiang Mai, as we have spent a lot of time in the north, it was cool winter time, and there are lots of lovely places like Chiang Dao which are laid back, peaceful, romantic, and can fit the bill (literally). Affordability is probably one of the biggest attractions of staging your wedding in Thailand - see the footnote for some even better news.
We held the bucks night in Pattaya and I worried for weeks about being handcuffed to some ladyboys and not making it to the ceremony, etc etc. A rowdy night with some mates in this purpose-built pleasure capital but none of my nightmares eventuated, luckily.
Anyway, we settled on Bangkok for our wedding; the Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel, for its lush tropical garden setting. We had a marquee tent set up outside in the garden, hired a student musician quartet to play classical and pop music, and it was lovely. We prayed for great weather and boy did we get it!
The organisation was really on the ball and the day went swimmingly (we were adjacent the pool, but that's not I mean. Nor was I referring to the sweat pouring off my brother's brow -- he joined us straight out of an English winter!)
The service itself was a three-in-one affair, starting off with Buddhist touches such as nine chanting monks, followed by water ceremony. Then we had a Chinese component which was centred around a tea ceremony. And finally an exchange of vows as the Western part.
Yul Brunner in the King and I. (I think that was meant as a compliment?!?)
It really was an out-of-body experience for me (better than being an out-of-pocket experience). Like some ancient Siamese fairy tale, with me in the lead role!
Oh, I meant to tell you about the good news: arrange to have some Chinese relatives join your wedding ... you see, it's their practice to pass on some money to the couple. At the end of the day, these bulging envelopes more than paid for the whole affair.
So, if you're thinking of a wedding in Thailand, for me, sure it's no surprise that it's in the top 10 wedding destinations, with no shortage of choices of the most romantic wedding places such as Chiang Mai, Kao Yai, Chiang Rai, or Koh Samui.
Hmmm, so many choices. I wonder where I'll get married next time.
Hey, only joking, sweetie, jing jing.
Hey, open the door ...