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The couple are Rob and Wilma of “Thailand Gek Club” fame “renewing their vows”.Their Daughter got married here about five years earlier also with our assistance.

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Australia’s – Bride To Be, Volume 134, Nov-Jan 05/06.

A article which we were asked to advise on was mostly for beach weddings but the author was so impressed they recommended us after talking with many of our couples.

wedding article

A article which we were asked to advise on was mostly for beach weddings but the author was so impressed they recommended us after talking with many of our couples.

July 21, 2003 / Vol. 162 No. 2

I Do, Dear. Now Pass Me that Towel
Tying the knot away from home


Brenton and Danika have come a long way for the most serious moment in their life—and they’re on the brink of hysterical laughter. The couple is exchanging wedding vows on the beach on Lanta Island in southern Thailand, but the minister is Thai and his English is enigmatic. Brenton can’t comprehend the solemn words he’s meant to repeat, and an expectant hush has fallen over the congregation, a spontaneous assemblage of sun worshipping, T shirt-wearing vacationers. The groom hesitates and then wings it, spouting words of love eternal that would do King James proud. Rings are exchanged, and the beaming minister finally finds his linguistic footing and announces: “Now you can show your love to your wife.”

For Brenton, 36, and Danika Sweeney, 30, both from Sydney, the beach wedding at Lanta’s Pimalai Resort & Spa earlier this year was romantic, exotic and affordable: at $4,695, it was about a quarter of the cost of holding a wedding bash back home. It was also hassle-free. There were no highly strung bridesmaids and no wrangling relatives. The couple’s only task was to turn up, get hitched, then chill beside the lapping waters of Pimalai Bay. “It was our day, not anyone else’s,” says Danika.

Despite SARS and terrorism threats, the lure of destination weddings in Asia remains strong, with resorts, hotels, wedding and tour operators offering better deals than ever to those looking for a foreign “weddingmoon.” Some only offer blessing services; others provide legally binding religious or civil ceremonies. In the latter case, however, your dream package may come wrapped in red tape: many countries have residency requirements for weddings, and most require that birth certificates or marriage licenses be translated into the local language. Couples may also need to file an affidavit of their eligibility to marry with their embassy.

The good news is that there are a lot of local operators who can arrange just about any kind of wedding you can conceive. In Thailand, the award-winning Banyan Tree Phuket ( offers two packages with names redolent of wedded bliss: Eternity ($1,355, plus accommodation) and Unity ($1,875). One monk blesses Eternity couples; a total of nine attend the Unity ceremonies. Also included in the packages are flowers, a multitiered wedding cake, bridal beauty treatments, massage sessions, and breakfasts and dinners. The real reason to splurge on a Unity package is the villa wedding-night setup, which Banyan Tree dubs the “Intimate Moments” part of the program. Each couple’s villa has a candle-lit outdoor sunken bath, floating glass goblets of red wine, satin sheets on the bed, ambient music, incense sticks and massage oils. That’s just about every trick in the amour book. I’ve experienced it. It works.

For the ultimate island wedding, head to the Maldives, where the Robinson Crusoe experience—gussied up with private bungalows, room service and gourmet food—can be found on several of the 1,192 small coral cays that make up this national island chain. Each resort has its own island, so couples bent on privacy receive it in abundance. Weddings in this self-billed paradise do not come cheap, though. Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru charges upward of $2,645 for its Unity package, which can include a sunset blessing ceremony on a sand bank in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The Underwater Unity package is $3,030; the Maldives is popular with scuba-mad couples who eschew white weddings in favor of wet ones, exchanging their vows on flash cards, seven meters deep.

Or why not let the country provide its own theme? Canna Cards ( in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, offers a real Thai wedding for just $1,660. Tying the knot Lanna-style starts with you and your bleary-eyed partner rising well before the sun to make merit—offer food to monks making their daily alms rounds—in the city’s silversmith area. If that’s a bit more reality than you can handle, consult Bali Weddings International (, which has been organizing Bali-style weddings for the past 10 years. “Before last year’s bombings, we averaged 36 weddings a month,” says wedding consultant Dewita Evans. That figure dropped to about 10 in the months following the Oct. 12 attack, until a resurrection of romantic spirit saw it surge to 22 in June. Australians account for 80% of the company’s clientele.

There are no one-size-fits-all packages; every wedding is tailor-made. A $650 charge pays for the minister and the civil-register fees; the size of the final bill depends on the style of wedding ordered up by the bride and groom. All requests are taken seriously. “One groom said he wanted to parachute in to his wedding,” says Evans. “So we got the costs in, and he was completely taken aback. He was kidding.” Public-beach weddings are discouraged, but couples dead set on sand can opt for a helicopter wedding on a remote beach.

If its princely pomp and ceremony that you’re after, Shaadionline ( has the solution: a royal wedding in Rajasthan. Set in magnificent palace-hotels, the ceremonies typically begin with a procession led by a turbaned groom riding a richly caparisoned horse, elephant or camel. (Sometimes all three animals are employed in the spectacle.) Sari-clad girls scatter rose petals while liveried men with flaming torches flank the procession. The guests—all the males get turbans—fall in behind, borne along by the beat of a troupe of drummers. After arriving at the palace, there are more flower showers and welcoming garlands before the wedding ceremony proper begins. Cake cutting, champagne toasts, dancing, feasting and fireworks follow. As wedding theatre goes, it’s a quality act.

Or you could choose a church. Since opening for bridal business in April last year, the Amantes Chapel at Guam Marriott Resort has hosted 650 weddings, most of them for Japanese clients of its owner-operator, World Bridal Micronesia ( Perched near the aptly named Two Lovers Point, its glass chapel offers a breathtaking 180-degree view of ocean and sky. A standard wedding package will set you back just $680, but if you want World Bridal to take care of everything, from the rented wedding dress to the reception, expect a substantially bigger bill.

And what do you do to follow up your exotic weddingmoon? Vow-renewal ceremonies are getting very, very popular.


Copyright 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Getting Married On Location:
Destination Weddings On the Rise

By Jessica Taryn

People spend years, and thousands of dollars trying to plan the perfect wedding. In an attempt to please everyone’s family and friends, couples often forget what a wedding is truly about; celebrating love—not trying to satisfy or impress your 300 nearest and dearest.

Destination weddings have become a popular trend in travel. Why not travel to a place you and your fiancé have always dreamed of visiting to celebrate the beginning of your lives together?

What is the most unique destination you can imagine for your wedding? ………


Alex Young and Eleanor Bell rose with the shimmering sun in Northern Thailand and their wedding day began around 4:45 a.m. Their wedding planner, Jit, escorted them to the local marketplace, teaching them the Buddhist ways as the day went on. Alex and Eleanor bought rice, sweets and flowers to offer to nine monks, the lucky number in the Thai culture. It is customary on the day of a Thai Buddhist wedding for the couple to give early morning offerings, known as ‘merit making’ while the monks make their daily rounds.

Traditional Northern Thai feast. Photo from

Eleanor got ready for the wedding with the assistance of a hairdresser, Jit, and Alex’s sister, Megan, and then reunited with her soon-to-be husband, and Megan’s boyfriend, Nik, to register the marriage at the District Office.

The couple then went to visit a head monk in a dazzling Thai temple to receive a Buddhist blessing.

“We also brought him some offerings from home; a pot of Alex’s mom’s homemade marmalade and some shortbread from Scotland. After that, we released nine birds from a basket and nine fish into a local river, again for merit making,” explained Eleanor.

Mid-afternoon, the four headed to Jit’s new, traditional teak house in Doi Saket, just outside of Chiang Mai, where the main ceremony was held.

While Eleanor changed into her wedding gown, Alex and Nik joined the musicians on the grounds, where they waited for the local elders to arrive to offer blessings to the couple and give them advice for the future.

“I waited inside the house. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, but I could hear a very noisy procession of whooping and celebrating as everyone made their way to the house. Alex had to pass through a series of three symbolic gates (made of rope), each of which had a gatekeeper. The gatekeeper’s job was to ask Alex questions and generally give him a hard time before he passed each one. In return, he had to give each one an envelope with some money inside. Traditionally, if the gatekeepers are not happy with the answers (or the money they receive), they can block the way for the groom, thereby not allowing the marriage to proceed. Fortunately, all was ok for us!” Eleanor said.

Once the elders arrived, the knot-tying ceremony began. Each elder tied a piece of string around Alex and Eleanor’s left wrists, and another piece of string connected the couple’s heads symbolizing the two being bonded together. They were then led into the bedroom by two of the elders who had been married for over 50 years, and they say down on the bed, which confirmed their marriage.

Eleanor had two different wedding dresses. For the daytime ceremony she wore a bright, shiny, blue gown, with sheer blue fabric on her arms. A gold necklace and belt brought together the outfit and she resembled royalty. At night, for the main ceremony, Eleanor changed into a gold and cream colored dress made of a rich, glittering fabric that tied over one shoulder leaving the other bare. She wore a gold and floral necklace to top off her stunning wedding attire.

Alex wore a white Thai suit that consisted of a pair of baggy cotton pants, and a shirt that was loose and airy and buttoned up the front. He looked pure and wore a scarf-like sash over one shoulder in traditional Northern Thai Lanna Style.

Then the party began. Jit’s sister had prepared a luxurious meal, and the elders, as well as Jit’s husband and children and the musicians joined the couple and their family for a feast.

After dinner Jit had prepared a breathtaking fireworks ceremony. Huge fireworks exploded above in celebration.

“Next came the fire balloons. We had no idea what these were. I imagined regular balloon-sized fireworks, and we were not prepared for the giant items that then appeared. They were huge paper lanterns, which when filled with heat were let off into the sky, with fireworks going off at the bottom,” Eleanor said.

The couple and their guests made toasts and had a few drinks before heading back to their room for the night.

“Jit prepared a really amazing wedding for us. I was surprised by how many beautiful flowers she had arranged for us, and there were lots of special touches, including a surprise massage for both of us the next morning!” she said.

Neither Alex nor Eleanor are very religious, however they “have a respect for Buddhist thought and therefore thought it would be apt” for them, Eleanor said.

“Getting married in Thailand was very reasonable for us and good value for money. Some big chain hotels in Thailand offer weddings at inflated prices, which are probably rather cheesy. Jit’s company Northern Thailand Weddings offers something much more personal and traditional,” Eleanor said.

The newlyweds continued their travel to Vietnam for their honeymoon.

There are so many options! Look into other unique wedding destinations, like a palace in India.

Jessica Taryn is an intern at GoNOMAD. She attends the University of Massachusetts.