Getting Married in Thailand
What Foreigners Need to Know Before Getting Married in Thailand
To begin the journey of getting married in Thailand, it’s essential to understand Thai wedding traditions. Whether you’re a foreigner who wants to get married to a Thai sweetheart or you are an LGBTQ+ couple. In terms of legal, cultural, family dynamic, and expectations an understanding of Thai wedding tradition aspects can enhance a smoother wedding experience in Thailand and also your relationship with your Thai partner.
Cultural Considerations to Know Before Getting Married in Thailand
Getting married in Thailand can be a beautiful and memorable experience, but it involves specific cultural considerations. Example: Most couples cannot just go to the local wedding hall and then get married without a wedding proposal ceremony because once the couple decides to marry, the groom’s family needs to formally propose to the bride’s family. This includes presenting gifts (Mostly it’s Thai gold or money) as a gesture of goodwill then the bride’s family will discuss the amount to be given as the dowry, also known as ‘Sin Sod’
‘Sin Sod’ – explanation and importance
Some foreigners might see ‘Sin Sod’ as the first culture shock of getting married in Thailand, because there is no dowry in Western wedding traditions. But what exactly does ‘Sin Sod’ stand for from then and now?
- The assurance of well-being for the bride
The Thai wedding tradition of Sin Sod has a long history, dating back to ancient times. When arranged marriages were common, Sin Sod was a way to assure the bride’s family that their daughter will be well taken care of in her marriage. It symbolizes the groom’s capacity to provide the bride with financial stability in their marriage when the bride leaves her family’s home. Although in modern times arranged marriages do not exist in Thai society, the tradition of Sin Sod continues to be practiced as a way to honour their cultural heritage.
- A gesture of gratitude for the bride’s parents
The Sin Sod can be seen as a gesture of gratitude and respect from the groom’s side for the bride’s parents for raising their daughter. In Thai society, the family unit is highly valued so the purpose of giving Sin Sod tradition is to reward the parents for raising the bride until she gets married to the man. Alternatively, it can be called ‘Kha Nam Nom Khao Pon’ (Compensation for betrothal) given to the bride’s parents.
- A status symbol for the bride
Sin Sod in Thai wedding culture can serve as a status symbol for the bride and her family. The amount of Sin Sod can reflect the socioeconomic status of both the groom and the bride’s families, and it may be seen as a way of showcasing their financial and social standing within the community. A higher Sin Sod amount may be indicative of greater wealth or social prestige, while a lower Sin Sod may signify more modest means. For example, Sid Sod could well exceed 100,000 THB for many middle-class educated couples.
Whether you are both Thai partners or foreigners marrying a Thai person, you will need to consider Sin Sod as part of the wedding preparations. Many couples decide to end their relationships or need couples therapy because they have an issue with Sin Sod. It is not uncommon for some grooms to end up in debt because they have to take out loans from the bank to pay for Sid Sod.
The specific customs and expectations surrounding Sin Sod can vary, and it’s essential to discuss and understand these traditions with your partner and their family to ensure a respectful and culturally sensitive approach to the wedding process. Nowadays, increasing awareness of gender equality, being financially independent and women’s rights has led to questioning practices like Sin Sod that it is an outdated and patriarchal practice that objectifies women. They prefer to make their marital decisions based on mutual consent and love.
What if I’m an LGBTQ+ couple and I want to get married in Thailand?
Unfortunately, Thailand does not legally recognize same-sex marriage because Thailand has not enacted written laws in the constitution or statute to support same-sex marriage. Moreover, Thailand is 94.6% Buddhist and Buddhists do not have specific religious laws which teachings to forbid homosexual transsexuals or same-sex marriage.
Although, Thailand does not allow same-sex marriage after 2015 Thailand is now a step closer to legalizing same-sex marriage. In 2015, Thailand passed the Life Partnership Bill, which allows same-sex couples to register their partnership, granting them some legal rights and benefits, but it does not provide the same legal recognition and protections as marriage. However, LGBTQ+ couples can celebrate their relationships and hold wedding ceremonies in Thailand, even though the country does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.
What do foreigners need to get married in Thailand?
According to the Department of Consular Affairs, there are certain requirements and restrictions for who can get married in Thailand under Thai law. The eligibility criteria for marriage in Thailand typically include the following:
- Men and women must be at least 17 years old.
- If either party is under the age of 20, parental consent may be required.
- Approved document that confirms you are legally free to marry and that there are no legal obstacles to your marriage (a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI)
- A woman who is divorced or whose husband dies must wait 310 days before she is allowed to remarry.
To get married in Thailand as a foreigner, you will typically need to provide a specific set of documents. It’s essential to verify the latest requirements with the local district office (Amphoe) where you plan to register your marriage.
**Please note that the originals of all documents are required to be presented on your appointment date and you need to provide copies of all documents for both partners**
- Application for legalization
- Application for Registration of Marriage
- A valid passport
- National Identification card
- Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) (Foreigners)
- A Divorce Certificate
- A House Registration Certificate (Thai national)
Please note that you must have at least two witnesses (each from the couple getting married) to attend the marriage registration date. And it might take 7 – 14 working days to get your marriage certificate. After marriage, the foreign spouse can apply for a non-immigrant “O” visa based on marriage to a Thai national. To obtain this visa, you’ll need to provide proof of documents. This visa is usually valid for a year and can be extended every year.
After marriage, What next?
Putting aside everything mentioned earlier the biggest challenge is how to maintain a healthy marriage. Cross cultural relationships have additional challenges so this is especially when you are a foreigner getting married to a Thai person.
Some common examples of these challenges can be found on on our website by visiting our dedicated Thai and Western Relationship Therapy page. These include such things as communication barriers, cultural differences, family expectations, financial matters, alcohol and health problems.
- Communication Barriers Language and communication styles can be a significant challenge. Even if both partners speak a common language, there may be nuances, idioms, or cultural references that are not easily understood. Misunderstandings can arise due to differences in how emotions and thoughts are expressed.
- Cultural Differences Thai and Western cultures have distinct norms, values, and traditions. These differences can manifest in various ways, from food preferences and religious beliefs to expectations around family roles and hierarchy. Couples may struggle to reconcile their cultural disparities.
- Family Expectations In Thai culture, family is highly important, and there are strong expectations for support and involvement in family affairs. Western cultures may have different views on family dynamics. In Thai culture, there can be strong expectations to provide financial support to extended family members. Foreign partners may not fully understand or agree with these cultural norms, leading to potential conflict. For example, a Thai partner’s family might ask a foreigner for money support per month.
- Financial Matters Discrepancies in financial priorities and spending habits can lead to disagreements. Different attitudes towards saving, investing, and budgeting may create tension in the relationship. For example, if your partner does not work and you have to financially support them all the time can often lead to conflict. Low income can lead to financial stress and anxiety. This stress can affect the overall well-being of both partners and the relationship itself.
- Health problems such as alcoholism, homesickness, feelings of being an outsider etc. Individuals in mixed-cultural marriages may grapple with questions of identity and belonging. You may feel torn between two cultures or struggle to find a sense of belonging in either and end up drinking too much causing your health problems after.
Relationship / Marriage Counselling / Couples Therapy
If you’re facing challenges that you can’t resolve on your own, then seeking professional support from an experienced relationship and marriage counsellor (often referred to as couples therapy) may be something to seriously consider. Therapy is a form of healing and encourages partners to gain a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives, emotions, and needs. Couples may rediscover their reasons for being together and recommit to their relationship, strengthening their bond.
Our experienced counselling team are here to provide you with guidance and support in many languages not just Thai and English. Other languages include Mandarin, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Korean, Hindu, Punjabi and Urdu.
How to get started
Remember, seeking therapy is a sign of maturity, commitment, and a willingness to work on the relationship. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness because we all need help throughout our lifetime. If you’re ready to take that next step, please don’t hesitate to contact us and arrange a free initial consultation without obligation. Pre-marital counselling can be a valuable and constructive experience for many couples. It provides an opportunity to address important issues, improve communication, and gain a better understanding of each other before entering into a lifelong commitment.
We look forward to being your trusted partners in your path toward enriching your marriage and helping you to stay in your healthy relationships.
Reference Sources for further Information