No More ‘Firsts’
As we’ve passed the one year in Thailand milestone, it feels like we’re running out of ‘firsts’. I’ve already been for my second annual medical and have renewed my work permit. Our second Christmas is fast approaching and we feel like we know the drill for New Year and Songkran. I’m sure I’ll still feel like an idiot the next time I have to ‘make merit’ but at least I will know what to expect.
So, I was very excited when we got our first wedding invitation! The invitation was from one of Chris’ staff at work and we were requested to attend the evening reception. I think it’s quite normal for only close family and friends to attend the actual ceremonial parts of the day. A wider group then joins in the evening.
A Last Minute Decision
Initially, Chris had declined the invitation. This was because our flight home from Japan was originally not due to land until around 7pm so we would have missed the whole event. Following a change of flight time and a drunken chat with some Thai friends it turned out we could go. Actually, it turned out that we HAD to go. Apparently if one of your staff invites you to their wedding it means they truly respect you. Especially if you are Farang. And there was even a risk that Chris would have to give a speech!
So, we landed at Suvarnabhumi on Sunday evening, raced home for a quick shower and were back in the car 45 minutes later. Having made quite a last minute decision to attend, I hadn’t quite had enough time to really find out anything about the happy couple. And whilst Chris obviously knew his colleague, unfortunately, he had not found out the name of his bride to be!
The Right Wedding?
It’s very normal in Thailand to make things look very nice with very staged photographs. This wedding was no different. We made our way to the function room, guided by large, glossy photos of the bride and groom in various outfits. They looked so polished that Chris had double check that we were definitely going to the right wedding!
We understood that we had to bring money as a gift so as we arrived we quickly located the letterbox and posted our envelope. We took away some cute personalised post-it notes in return.
Before we entered the room, there was a nice place for photos so we took a quick selfie! Our milling around meant that we didn’t notice that the wedding party had actually started to enter the room! Fortunately, we managed to sneak in and lurk at the back.
Guests of Honour?
After the couple had finished their walk to the stage, we found ourselves standing a bit awkwardly not really knowing what to do. There were tables closer to the stage but more of a buffet style set up towards the back of the room. Chris wasn’t sure if anyone else from his work would be there. He had considered asking but didn’t want to offend anyone in case they hadn’t been invited!
Before we knew it, a lady approached us and ushered us to sit down at a table. She also very quickly got us some wine! We got introduced to the other people at the table yet were still none the wiser as to who they actually were. Through our respective limited Thai and English, we managed to discover that we were sitting with some fairly close family members. Definitely a Brother and an Aunt but we weren’t completely sure whether they were related to the bride or groom!
I talked about my embarrassment at being ‘fawned over’ as a Farang in The Helpless Farang… So I really should not have been surprised that two Farangs who turned up late and didn’t even know the bride’s name would end up on one of the main tables! And when we did eventually find the rest of Chris’ work colleagues it emerged that they didn’t even have a table and were just loitering at the back.
The actual table setup was quite informal and we ‘chatted’ and helped ourselves to food. We were also regularly topped up with wine. On the stage, proceedings were more formal and there were various speeches. But it seemed Chris was not quite as important as he thought so did not get summoned to the stage to say a few words! There also seemed to be some sort of ‘Mr & Mrs’ type game but I might be wrong.
Cutting the cake was a spectacle! It was literally the biggest cake I had ever seen. It was so big they cut it with a sword! I did later discover that the real cake was actually elsewhere and this was just a show cake. So typically Thailand!
Dress to Impress
What was also interesting was the different outfits that people chose to wear. I’d elected to go for standard wedding attire – a nice modest dress, heels etc. Chris was of course in a suit. Some people looked similar but others were a lot more casual. This might be complete rubbish but I heard that what you wear reflects your social status. It seemed that those on the outside of the room looked a bit more casual.
Save the Best ’til Last
Overall it didn’t seem too dissimilar to a UK wedding reception. They even included the part where the bride throws the bouquet to her single friends to work out who will be next to marry. Actually, after a length set up, she just handed the bouquet to the groom who passed it to his friend who immediately proposed to his girlfriend. Clearly, nobody was willing to take the chance of the bouquet ending up in the wrong hands! And nobody seemed to think that a marriage proposal at a wedding was in anyway attention seeking.
The one big difference and in fact the best part of the whole event was that we were not obliged to stay for any longer than absolutely necessary! At the end of the formal proceedings, we posed for a few photos and then everyone scarpered! So we followed suit and were tucked up in bed by 9:30pm. A perfect event!