Underwater weddings in Thailand - saying I do with a twist

A different way to take vows

A different way to take vows

By Jan Schauseil

Are you ready to take the plunge into marital bliss? Then why not literally take a plunge into the stunning Andaman Sea and exchange your vows underwater.

This seemingly bizarre, but increasingly popular, way to get married has become a highlight of Trang’s island tourism since it was first introduced in 1996. If you’re looking for a stamp of uniqueness to put on your wedding day, look no further than an underwater marriage in Trang - just a short hop from Krabi.

Each Valentine’s Day, the pristine island of Kradang off Thailand’s western coast becomes the site of a fun and festive three-day wedding event organised by the Trang Chamber of Commerce. The Underwater Wedding Ceremony, as it’s creatively named, is one of the few events in the world where you can officially get married underwater. The natural timing between this region’s calm dry season and Valentine’s Day couldn’t be better.

This unique way to exchange marriage vows is open to foreigners as well as Thais, with an average of 30 couples participating in this annual event. Some are newlyweds, while others come to renew their vows. The only condition for an underwater wedding is that each person must be a certified scuba diver.

If you’re intrigued by an underwater wedding, but aren’t PADI certified, don’t worry. Simply arrive in Thailand a week or two early and take diving lessons at one of the many dive companies in and around Krabi. Non-divers, however, are also welcome to participate.

This is a legally binding marriage, and most foreign countries recognise marriages officiated in Thailand. The novelty is that the couples actually sign their marriage certificates underwater using a special pen in front of a district officer who witnesses and then approves the union. But there’s much more to the ceremony than simply signing a paper underwater.

Upon arrival in Trang, all the brides and grooms involved are paraded around town in a traditional Khan Maak procession while the locals cheer them on. Couples can wear whatever suits take their fancy, from tuxedos and white wedding dresses to bikinis or bizarre costumes. It’s all about having fun on your special day!

Join local dive lovers in the ceremony

Join local dive lovers in the ceremony

After the Thai-style procession, everyone boards a caravan of brightly coloured long-tail boats and heads to Kradang Island. Friends and relatives can follow behind the procession. At the beach, Buddhist rituals are performed, followed by the traditional Thai act of pouring lustre water over the couples.

The brides and grooms are then separated and enter the warm crystal clear water at different ends of the beach. Swimming through schools of tropical fish, they meet at the designated site 12 metres underwater and complete the official ceremony. If you get cold feet, you can simply swim away. The ocean is a huge place.

Non-diver bridal couples can also participate. Special kayaks are prepared to transport them to the registration boat offshore where they can complete the official ceremony above water. After returning to the beach, the newlyweds and their guests can enjoy traditional southern Thai cuisine, music, dancing and a fireworks show. This revolves around the uniquely Trang marriage tradition known as Kin Neow. With sticky rice at the heart of the meal, this symbolic staple is an auspicious symbol binding the new families together in harmony and prosperity.

The following day, newlyweds are invited to join a special ceremony to plant local Sri-Trang trees at the Peninsular Botanic Gardens in commemoration of their wedding. Many couples then head for the luxury resorts of nearby Krabi for their honeymoons.

You’ll likely want to hire a private minivan to make the 131km trip from Krabi to Trang. This can easily be done at any travel shop in Krabi. Buses also run to Trang, but that are not a popular way to start your new life together. Nok Air operates a direct daily flight from Bangkok to Trang if you are arriving straight from the capital.

All couples who want to participate in this wonderfully fun and unique wedding event must register with the Trang Chamber of Commerce ahead of time. Visit their detailed website at www.underwaterwedding.com for all the information and registration forms you need, or call them direct in Thailand at: +66 7 522 5353.

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