It’s not an uncommon fantasy: saying “I do” in a tropical beach paradise. The idyllic islands of Thailand are filled with great settings for nuptials. A luxury wedding in South East Asia can be a dream come true, but you will need to be practical about planning this special event.
Your wedding is the one day of your life when you want everything to go perfectly. If you choose an island location, the tropical romance will certainly be there. However, you also have to be sure that all the details are in place so that everything runs seamlessly. If you are making the effort to travel to a far-flung corner of the globe to get married, then you and your guests deserve no less than perfection.
WHY KOH SAMUI?
Koh Samui is Thailand’s top wedding island for good reason. It is large enough that you can have your pick of beach settings for your ceremony. The tourist infrastructure is solid, so your guests will be comfortable and enjoy a high level of convenience, including their choice of hotels, restaurants, shopping streets, water-sports experiences and inland adventures. And with average temperatures falling between 24-33 Celsius, the weather can’t be beat!
There are plenty of options for getting married on Koh Samui. You could contact individual vendors and try to put something together yourself. However, resorts, wedding package specialists and event venues on the island can make the planning process much easier. The only thing that you will have to worry about is finding the right place and the right people to help you with the planning!
YOUR FIRST STEPS
One of the first things you need to do is contact Thailand’s tourism board to be sure you meet all the legal requirements for getting married in the country. You should also contact your country’s consular service to learn how to file the paperwork so that your marriage is recognized at home. In Thailand, generally, the paperwork takes a day or two to file if you are getting legally married. If you are simply having the ceremony in Thailand, but getting legally married at home, then this isn’t a concern.
You should start seeking out a resort or marriage package specialist at least six months before you plan to wed. Starting a year in advance, though, will give you the best chance of getting the exact date and location that you want.
Many people choose to get married on Koh Samui, so you won’t lack options when it comes to wedding specialists offering their services. This can be a convenience, but it can also be a problem. Many resorts offer one-size-fits-all wedding packages. They will give you a wedding on the beach, but they tend to be somewhat inflexible when it comes to working with you to create your dream ceremony. For example, they may not be willing to host the wedding on the exact spot where you want, or they may require you to work with specific caterers and decorators even though you prefer other vendors.
The best way to avoid this pitfall is to inquire about flexibility. You could even create a little test: ask the resort to do something that is not a part of the standard wedding package and see how they respond.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT LOCATION
For maximum flexibility, choose a boutique resort that offers rental villas instead of standard rooms. These places usually let you have your ceremony anywhere on their grounds, and most have concierge service that can help if you have an outside spot in mind for your “I do” moment. The same concierge can aid you when it comes to booking a wedding photography session and hiring caterers, decorators, DJs and whoever else you need to pull off your dream wedding. In short, going the villa resort route will allow you to personalize your special day so that it is as romantic and memorable as possible.
Villa resorts like Samujana, one of the top destination wedding options on Samui, offer this kind of personalized service for weddings, in addition to allowing your entire party to stay together at the same resort. They can also make sure you have the necessary privacy and pampering for your honeymoon. After all, that’s part of the attraction of a Thai island wedding: being able to exchange rings and then enjoy a romantic honeymoon in the same place.
FINALIZING YOUR TRAVEL DETAILS
Once your villa is booked and your date is set, you can move on to tackle the other practicalities of a destination wedding. Airfares are generally at their cheapest between three and six months before take-off. Travel agents can often offer cheaper fares than online booking sites because they have access to ticket consolidators who buy bulk tickets cheaply and often pass part of the discount on to consumers (though, since consolidator tickets are harder to cancel, travel insurance might be a good option). At the very least, you should have a definite head count of the number of guests before you purchase the tickets.
One thing that’s easy to forget in the pre-wedding excitement: making sure that you and your guests have up-to-date passports. Since it can take weeks or months to obtain or update these important documents, remind your guests several times in advance to take care of this need.
Ideally, you should have a good local contact person assigned to your wedding through your venue. Check with this person as the departure date approaches to make sure that any necessary vendor arrangements have been finalized and to follow-up on any last minute details. Plan to arrive at least three days before your wedding (though arriving even earlier is better).
So put your worries aside when it comes to planning your dream Koh Samui wedding. As long as you have the right venue and planner to help you, your tropical Thailand will be filled with romance and talked about by your guests for years to come.