Getting married in the UK had never really captured our hearts. Although it is my partners and my birthplace, the idea of a traditional ceremony, with the year build up of planning madness. Coupled with of course daily prayers for sun and lets not forget the obligatory family guest list of 5th cousins removed, whom we don’t even know, we were quite simply gripped with wedding fear!
This fear left Kevin and I engaged, for years. Every time at family gatherings when the subject would be brought up, we would almost break out into cold sweats and squirm uncomfortably like small children being scolded. How do we tell them we wanted to break the mold, we wanted to run far away and simply just do something for the two of us. We knew we sounded so selfish, but then why not, it was our wedding, wasn’t it? This internal dialogue plagued us for years and engaged, seemed the way we were destined to stay.
Sat mooching on a chilly Sunday morning perusing the papers, I was instantly drawn to the front cover of the glossy Sunday magazine with that glorious image of a beautiful tropical isle as seen from the sea, partly split between underwater and over water. What captured my attention was the image of 2 divers holding hands in an azure sea looking particularly happy with themselves.
Kevin and I have been avid divers for years; in fact it would be fair to call us true underwater junkies. We thoroughly enjoyed all that the underwater sea world had to offer and many times booked our holidays based solely on what the diving was like in these destinations.
This image tickled my heart and so I began to scan the article. It was like an epiphany! These divers had just taken part in a stunning underwater wedding ceremony and as I read on, I felt the wedding fear shackles drop to my feet. As I sensed for the first time a wave of excitement, we were going to do it, we were getting married!
A Thai Wedding with a Twist
This unique event for Valentine’s Day was initiated 16 years ago in the Trang Province in the South of Thailand, with former divers tying the knot underwater, witnessed by Thai officials who issued them marriage registration certificates in a stunning underwater ceremony. Could this be anymore perfect for us!
Since then, the underwater wedding has become institutionalized as an annual festive event for the province, joined by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and various organizations and agencies both in the public and private sectors. Divers and non-divers from all over the world take part in the event each year.
This year, Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony marks the 17th anniversary of the event, with couples registered to take part, including I am pleased to announce, Kevin and myself. We did it, we ticked all the boxes and when explaining our underwater wedding ceremony plans to our families, with none of them diving or even liking the sun much. We were given their blessing to follow, our all be it quirky, hearts desire!
The event originated in 1996, with the marriage of a couple that met and fell in love at an eco-tourism event in Trang. They chose the stunning underwater landscape of the area as a setting to exchange vows in a traditional Thai ceremony, along with the underwater signing of a wedding certificate. In subsequent years, the offbeat event attracted couples from around the world, even placing in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000 for the largest underwater wedding ceremony.
The province is a natural romantic destination, with rainforests, waterfalls, limestone caves and vast undisturbed coral reefs. At this time of year, the Andaman Sea is calm and still, and the area abounds with blossoming sri-trang flowers. But what marks Trang as a lovers’ destination is not just its beauty but indeed the presence of adventurous couples, like ourselves, who want something that little bit different and join this annual Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony. It’s going to be amazing!
Though the ceremony may seem unusual, it is in fact steeped in Thai wedding traditions. Having booked, we have discovered that couples being wed come from all parts of the globe and we are treated like VIPs during our stay. A special flight takes us from Bangkok to Trang where we are met by traditional Thai dancers and showered with flower petals on arrival. We are dressed in traditional Thai costumes as part of the ceremony, before taking part in a procession in our honour through the streets of Trang town with hundreds of onlookers cheering and wishing us well, quite the celebrities it would seem.
A Valentines Day Delight
On Valentine’s Day, we will be taken by speedboat to the island of Koh Kradan. A stunning isle off of the coast of Trang, with a far spreading reputation for its beauty. The speedboats themselves actually form part of the khan maak procession with musicians and dancers on board adding to the incredible unique ambience. On Koh 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. Along with scuba gear, we will don hand-woven Thai wedding costumes or if we choose a wedding dress and tux, it’s madness, but brilliant and a Buddhist ritual is the focal point of the ceremony.
Beautifully before the wedding ceremonies begin, we pay tribute to the ceremony’s eco-conscious roots by releasing marine life into the sea before going underwater ourselves, which is such a moving gesture, marking the commencement of the ceremony. This memory is further enhanced by us planting sri-rang trees as a commemoration of our love, which I believe too date there are almost 500 of them.
For us, this is an incredible opportunity to do something that is almost custom made for Kevin and myself. Yes a little mad and yes completely wonderful, a wedding experience I can honestly say is like no other, it will be truly unforgettable!
Interested couples for the Underwater wedding ceremonies can contact:
- Bangkok Office: 43 Tanasan Building, Chiangmai Road, Klongsan, Bangkok 10600, Tel : +66 (0) 2 863 3288 (automatic) ext. 491 , 463 , 422, Fax : +66 (0) 2 438 0286
- Trang Chamber of Commerce: 188 Kantang Road, Aumphur Muang, Trang, Thailand 92000, Tel : +66 (0) 75 225 353 , +66 (0) 75 210 238, Fax : +66 (0) 75 211 380, Email: [email protected], Website : www.underwaterwedding.com
- A point of interest visited during the ceremony: Peninsular Botanic Gardens (Thung Khai) – Trang-Palien Road , Thung Khai Arboretum and Forest Reserve, Yan Ta Khao district, Trang province 92140, Tel: 66-75-280166, Fax: 66-75-280166