Wedding Regulations and Vow Renewals
In addition to a honeymooner’s paradise, Thailand is a top choice for destination weddings, as well. If your clients wish to have a destination wedding in Thailand, there are some essential rules and regulations you need to tell them about.
- A marriage in Thailand is legal in the U.S. and Canada, but it must be performed according to Thai law
- In addition, paperwork and legal formalities have to be completed to ensure the wedding is recognized in your home country.
- Note: Canadian citizens should check with the Vital Statistics Office of the province of territory where the couple will live.
In Thailand you are only legally married once the wedding has been registered at the District Office. Suggest that your clients arrange the services of a wedding planner. Keep in mind many major hotels offer wedding packages that include the services of a wedding planner to oversee all the details.
For a little extra, suggest something special suggest to the bride-to-be the idea of having the wedding attire designed and made in Thailand for the occasion.
Assuming your clients are U.S. or Canadian citizens, they will need to visit their respective embassies in Thailand prior to the wedding. Wedding planners may have arrangements with the embassies to speed the process along, but generally speaking the couple should allow for four or five days in Bangkok to sort out the paperwork and legalize the marriage.
Thai law requires that passports be up to date and have a minimum validity of six months. In addition:
- A couple must be of legal age (17) upon filing for marriage registration; otherwise permission must be granted by a court.
- Permission from the parents is required for parties under legal age.
- Both parties must not be registered as married to anyone else.
A widow or divorcee will be permitted to remarry no less than 310 days after the previous marriage has expired, unless she has given birth to a child, is remarrying the same person, is not pregnant, or approval to remarry from a court has been obtained.
Affirmation to Marry
Thai authorities require that any foreign nationals wishing to marry in Thailand obtain an affirmation to marry from their home country’s embassy. The embassy will require your passport and evidence of termination of any previous marriages, such as divorce certificate or death certificate. These should be original documents and not photocopies.
The form will then have to be translated into Thai. The embassy will not do this for you, but there are a number of translation services and offices to be found near the main embassies. Typically the cost is around $20-$30. The translated forms are then submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which authenticates them and returns them the following day.
Once all the paperwork is completed, the couple must visit the district office, which is similar to a town hall or registry office. A religious ceremony on its own is not recognized as being valid under Thai law. There usually is no need to make an appointment, but they will need their affirmation and translated documents. The couple should also go with someone who can speak Thai.
Note: The Thai marriage certificate will be in Thai only. Couples may wish to obtain a sworn translation of the certificate from a translation bureau so that the document can be used for legal purposes in their home country.
For couples who only want to reaffirm their commitment to each other, vow renewal ceremonies can usually be arranged at or by their hotel, all without the red clicke of an actual marriage.
For something more exotic, many temples will conduct a Buddhist ceremony and have their nuptial subleased by a Thai monk.