The district of Trang is located on Thailand’s Andaman Coast in between Krabi and the Malaysian border. The Trang Underwater Wedding originally started as a one-off event in the mid 1990s with just one couple marrying underwater, but its popularity has increased and in 2000 it gained official recognition from the Guinness Book of Records as the largest underwater wedding in the world.
The festivities take part every year from February 13th-15th with the actual wedding ceremony being performed on the 14th, Valentine’s Day. To take part in the underwater ceremony you and your partner need to be qualified divers. If you are not a qualified diver there is still the option of a beach-side wedding which can be held at the same time as the other couples head underwater. The Trang wedding festival is clearly a great way to generate tourist revenue, but it does have a serious side too because it promotes eco-tourism and the location is specifically chosen not to cause damage to the delicate marine environment.
Traditional Thai Wedding with a Twist
The event is a big deal for the province of Trang and attracts local and worldwide media interest every year. The couples being wed come from all parts of the globe and are treated like VIPs during their stay. A special flight takes the couples from Bangkok to Trang where they are met by traditional Thai dancers and showered with flower petals. The couples are dressed in traditional Thai costumes before taking part in a procession in their honour through the streets of Trang town with hundreds of onlookers cheering and wishing them well. The event is organized by the Trang Chamber of Commerce and is made possible with the sponsorship assistance of various groups including Thai Airways.
On Valentine’s Day the wedding couples are taken by speedboat to the island of Ko Kradan. The speedboats themselves actually form the khan maak procession with musicians and dancers on board. On Ko Kradan a blessing ceremony is held by respected elders followed by the rod nam sang ceremony where water is poured from a conch shell over the hands of the bride and groom. The couples who are qualified divers are then taken offshore to complete the underwater ceremony whilst the others remain on the beach watching on. Some couples wear their wedding dress or tuxedo with their scuba gear but it isn’t compulsory. Under the water a representative of the district office witnesses and approves the ceremonial waterproof marriage certificate, but to make the wedding legal, couples will normally still need to go through the formalities listed on the legal section of this site.
Open to All
It doesn’t matter if you are already married because it is possible to renew your vows at the event. Trang Underwater Wedding is proud of the fact that it promotes cross-cultural understanding and is open to people of all races, creeds and sexuality. Although gay couples can and do take part in the wedding ceremony, a gay wedding is not currently recognized legally in Thailand.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (Southern)
Tel: 07534 6575-6
Photo courtesy of Trang Chamber of Commerce