Personal Stories Thailand Travel Stories

“We’re Getting Married Tomorrow…At a (Thai) Buddhist Temple”

Imagine if one day your parents turned to you and said:

“We’re getting married tomorrow…at a Buddhist temple.”

Now imagine that you’re in Thailand when they said that…

Welcome to my life!

Let me explain…my parents have always been a wee bit non traditional. That resulted in quite a unique upbringing for myself, going way back to age 4, when a midlife crisis took our family to Ecuador! Along with that non traditional-ness came a lack of my parents marriage. It was just an accepted fact of life (well, our life, at least).

So imagine our surprise when my parents uttered that exact phrase in a Bangkok hotel room on December 30, 2006.

Now just why were we all in Bangkok? I had spent the past 5 months studying in Thailand and my immediate family, led by my travel-savvy grandmother, came to visit. My parents had kept their surprise under wraps for the nearly 2 weeks we had spent together.

Once we all picked our eyeballs up off the floor, it was clear this was really happening. 24 years together and my parents opted for doing something completely in character for them. A wedding in Thailand? How many others could boast that  ceremony, dubbed “joining of souls?” Heck even the master wedding planners in Las Vegas can’t recreate that experience!

The Buddhist Temple

A mere 12 hours later, we arrived at a suburban Bangkok Wat (Buddhist temple) around mid-morning. This was a quiet and serene place, a far cry from the hectic environment we had just come from. It even had a lovely river running right by it!


The river that ran through the temple
This tree at the temple was loaded with amulets

A Buddhist Wedding

To start things off, my parents bowed before a Buddha image, lighting incense and candles for good merit (karma).

My parents pray to the Buddha

We were then seated in front of a long platform, atop which sat 5 saffron-clad monks. The ceremony, which lasted about an hour, began, as the monks commenced to chant in Pali, the language of the Theravada form of Buddhism, which is practiced in Thailand. We couldn’t understand a word of what was going on, but it was truly beautiful.

Lunch is Served (to the Monks)!

Suddenly, everything stopped. Mali, the Thai wife of a friend of ours who had arranged this whole ordeal, pointed my parents towards a tray of food.

It was nearly noon, the hour at which Buddhist monks are no longer allowed to eat for the day. And so, my parents presented the monks with their lunch. And in one of the more unusual moments of the day, we got to sit there and watch the monks eat before they resumed the ceremony. But they definitely weren’t selfish. They fed every single cat that walked over.

We had to stop the ceremony so that the monks could enjoy their lunch!

After lunch, my parents offered the monks with what can only be termed “monk buckets” (buckets full of supplies monks use that are usually offered during morning alms) and flowers, both gestures to make merit by giving to the monastic body. Then, more chanting.

When it was over, my parents jointly poured a bottle of holy water into a small, gilded fountain, symbolizing the joining of their souls.

My parents pour holy water to signify their union

And with that, they were joined. There was no declaration of “I now pronounce you man and wife,” and no “You may kiss the bride” (though they did). What we had was one very happy couple.

And as we made our way to the reception at Mali and her husband John’s house, it suddenly began to feel like every other day I’ve ever experienced with my crazy, crazy family (said with lots of love, of course)!

The monks bow to the Buddha to finish the ceremony

By Aaron

Hey there! I'm Aaron and this is my travel site, where I document my adventures to all corners of the world. My love for travel started at the ripe old age of four, when a midlife crisis uprooted my family to Ecuador for five years. Since then, I've been to countries on 4 different continents. When I'm not blissfully on the road, I reside in New York City, where I become the ultimate travel junkie and spend my days dreaming up my next great adventure! Read More...

51 replies on ““We’re Getting Married Tomorrow…At a (Thai) Buddhist Temple””

I feel like bob and I would do something like that- haha- we are always up for anything and it sounds like your parents are too. I like what you say about them being joined- for some reason that strikes me as very romantic!

Hehehe thanks, I suppose it is really romantic! In a monks doing rituals that are very strange to you kind of way…

Thanks! I give all the credit to my awesome parents who are responsible for many of those extravagent experiences in my life! 🙂

It’s kinda funny reading the post now after meeting you and hearing the story in person….I can definitely see where you get your adventurous spirit from. Great photos – such a fun story to be able to share with people!

Ok I’m a little late in reading this one, but awesome! Sounds like you have great parents, and this looks like it was quite an experience!

That’s awesome! Reminds me of when my parents decided to renew their wedding vows in Las Vegas… really, Vegas?! My sisters and I didn’t really believe them at first.

Haha! As someone who grew up in Vegas, the thought of doing anything wedding related there is just….blegh!

that’s such a nice story. nowadays, it’s hard for marries couples to stay together half the time your parents have. congrats to them. what a great way to get married; with your family and children around in an unconventional (by american standards) way. awesome.

Why thank you for the nice comment Mack! I’d definitely say that it was totally typical for my parents to be unconventional about things! And nothing quite like taking 23 years to make sure you like someone before tying the knot!

Well, it wasn’t quite so random, as they came to the decision after a minor medical scare when they realized they lacked certain legal protections should something happen to one of them.

The randomness was them keeping it a secret and springing it on us! But that they would do something like this is totally in character for them!

Thanks Samuel! Differences in styles of wedding really are pretty big parts of religious traditions, which affect large parts of cultures and customs around the world!

What a great story, and to get married in a Buddhist Temple…just randomly, SO beats Vegas. It looks so peaceful and zen. Now I see what’s the matter with you (j/k) 🙂

Random, maybe, but TOTALLY in character for my parents (who frequently jokingly threatened that they’d just do the drive-thru wedding chapel in Vegas…)! And thanks!

awwwww that’s so romantic of them! :)) i wish my parents were a bit more adventurous!!
And guess what, they’ve NEVER been on a plane.
Not joking! so they are still wondering how did they manage to create a globetrotter like me!!
Mysteries of life!
Can we exchange parents?? 🙂 no just kidding now 😛

Haha no, I’m keeping my parents thank you very much! And it really was quite the occasion. They’d joked for years about just going through a drive-thru wedding chapel in Las Vegas! I think this was a much better way for them to do it, and, if you know them, it’s something that really isn’t unusual for them.

Haha and I have no idea how people end of traveling when their parents have never been a plane! More power to you!

i think your parents rock!! even las vegas would have been quite an experience!!
so you got your travelling genes from them 🙂 i bet you dont want to switch them with mines!
people that knows me well are pretty shocked to discover that my parents never took a plane and my brother hates to travel….seriously, i must have been genetically modified when i was born! lol i’d try everything, if i was asked to go to the moon i would certainly do that 🙂 never say never! a blog post from the moon would be absolutely cool! 🙂

Actually I got my traveling genes mostly from my paternal grandmother. You can read more about her here: Plus I started young (age 4).

Las Vegas would’ve been a tacky experience. It’s funny to think about, but knowing my parents, I highly doubt they would have gone through with it. They totally would’ve gotten married on the spot. In fact there was a party at the house of an old family friend when one of their good friends was a Justice of the Peace and my parents looked at the each other but decided, “nah!”

Glad to see you overcame odds and decided to travel. What got you started?

Haha yes, a blog post from the moon would be pretty epic!


Wow….wonderful story. You are so cool, I wish I can be like you. The wedding pictures are beautiful. BTW, We are thinking about getting married at a Buddhist Temple in/near Bangkok too. Can you give us some information about the temple and who we can contact to arrange the wedding. Thank you very much.

You knoq, I don’t remember the name of the temple, nor was I involved in organizing it. A friend of a friend who lived in Bangkok at the time arranged the whole thing through his Thai wife and it was a temple near their house in the suburbs. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

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