Chrissy & Danny’s double wedding (part one): thaitastic, tropical monk fest

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Ariel teased this drool-worthy double wedding last week, which I'm sure had you all twitching in anticipation for more. Well, wait no longer. Here is the first installment of Chrissy & Danny's double wedding. -Coco

Thai Wedding
The offbeat bride: Chrissy, Secondary school teacher

Her offbeat partner: Danny, Secondary school teacher

Location & date of wedding: Koh Samui, Thailand at Sandalwood Villas — July 30, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We had two weddings. One in Thailand, one in London. This is the story behind our Thailand wedding.

Danny and I love travelling. And we absolutely hate unnecessary stress. So having a wedding abroad that some one else coordinated was perfect for us. Thai Wedding

Danny proposed to me on our eleventh year anniversary. At that point, we had already been making some provisional plans to travel in Asia during the summer. So we decided to have our wedding in Thailand — we were already thinking of going there anyway, and many hotels offer package weddings. Meaning, for a flat price you get the ceremony, photographer, flowers and dinner.

We're not particularly religious, but Danny has always been interested in Buddhism so we requested a Buddhist wedding. When in Thailand do as the Thai do. Thai Wedding

The ceremony itself was the strangest, most beautiful thing I've even seen. In a way, I wish I would have been watching instead of participating because I was so nervous that I didn't take a lot of it in.

The day itself was not only stress-free, but it was actually relaxing. Danny and I began the day with spa treatments (including an awesome Thai massage, where they contort your body and walk on you!), then hung out by the private pool attached to our villa. We got ready at our leisure and then the hotel staff knocked on our door when it was time. We literally didn't have to do anything except show up. It was fantastic.

Danny and I sell on Etsy, which really just started out as a way to fund my terrible Etsy spending habit. Most of the items that we bought for both of our weddings came from Etsy. I love the having things that are hand made. It really makes things a lot more special.
Thai Wedding
Tell us about the ceremony: It started with a drum procession. We were led by Thai dancers and followed by men playing drums and chanting in Thai. They accompanied us to the altar and we were sat in front of the Thai monks.

We first lit some incense together and offered it to Buddha as a gift (I think). The monks then joined us with string which went from Danny to me and then through the hands of each of the five monks. After about ten minutes of chanting — the monks chanting, not us — the ceremony continued.
Thai Wedding
We were given prayer bracelets and sprinkled with blessed water. We then gave the monks offerings (as a thank you). Monks do not handle money, so we gave them baskets containing noodles, soap, toothbrushes, etc. There was a final blessing by the monks and then it was over. The ceremony lasted about twenty-five minutes and was conducted entirely in Thai. Thankfully, two members of the hotel staff acted as translators and offered helpful suggestions like “hold that” and “pour that in there.”
Thai Wedding
Our biggest challenge: We originally wanted to have one wedding and just have us and our parents attend. Unfortunately, they weren't keen on the idea. We live in England, but our parents live in the US and they were not at all happy about the length of the flights. It also didn't help that there was a lot of social unrest in Thailand at the time we were planning it — there had been bombs and rioting in Bangkok and the parents were concerned. Thai Wedding

We ended up compromising by having another wedding in London for the parents. This actually worked out well because, while it's possible to have a legal wedding in Thailand, it's pretty complicated. So it ended up working out having two weddings — we had the legal one in London which was the cheaper option and made the parents happy.

My favorite moment: Danny and I sitting in our wedding outfits, with our feet dangling in the pool, calling my parents in the USA on Skype to tell them we were married.

My funniest moment: The monks gave us prayer bracelets as part of the ceremony. The monk putting it on Danny was struggling to get the bracelet on his big, western man wrist. The monks didn't speak any English, but the monk managed to squeak out the word “biggie” while chuckling. The other monks chuckled as well.
Thai Wedding
My advice for offbeat brides:
1. If you want an awesome, stress-free wedding, think about getting a package deal. It was perfect for us – the hotel arranged everything! However, it's not an option for those who want control over the details.
2. If you love travelling, spend money on that instead of the wedding, or better yet, combine the two.
3. Only have a destination wedding if you are okay with people not coming. The plane tickets to Thailand were killer. So of course we didn't expect people to spend the money to attend — we didn't even bother asking. Thai Wedding

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? When you have naturally curly hair, and you are in a humid country for your wedding, have a plan. I did not. Luckily, the day before the wedding I discovered by accident that drenching my hair in sun tan oil kept it down. But it eventually turned my hair red. Oh well.

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Comments on Chrissy & Danny’s double wedding (part one): thaitastic, tropical monk fest

  1. What a wonderful double wedding! We are in the middle of planning something similar – getting married in Italy and again in the states, no one coming to Italy with us. The reception is the hardest part to plan (we’re defining it as “not a wedding reception reception”). I’ll have to look into the hotel package deals.

  2. Gorgeous wedding! The Buddhist ceremony sounds magnificent and really eye-opening. My partner and I are having two weddings also; one in the US where we’re from and one in Ireland where we’ve been living. I can’t wait to see the profile for your next wedding!

  3. wow…i’m really impressed by the quality of those photographs! they’re gorgeous. i’ve heard way too many stories of people going with package deals to save on stress and planning and then winding up with really mediocre photos. (which, as a wedding photographer, of course makes me sad.) sandalwood villas found someone awesome to provide their services.

  4. This may be my favorite wedding ever featured. I love the beautiful simplicity of it and paying homage to the country in which they married. Everything was gorgeous.

  5. I would love to get married like this. I wonder if they had to pay for the full wedding package since it was just the 2 of them. I would totally get married with a JOP then trot off to Thailand for such a beautiful ceromony.

    • We did pay for the whole thing – as it was the same amount of decorations and a day of photographer hire, etc. However, we didn’t pay for dinners for everyone (obviously) and the whole thing was remarkably cheap considering it included a couple of nights stay in a fancy pants villa. Please feel free to contact me if you have specific questions about getting married in Thailand. I’m happy to answer anything I can.

  6. This is the kind of wedding my daughter wants, so it’s fun to see how it works. She’s aiming for a beach wedding. Big help — “The ‘W’ Day,” a wedding guide that covers all kinds of themed weddings, complete with practical tips for each kind of setting and location. Obviously, lots of do-it-yourselfers can … do it themselves! But there are many among us (I count myself here) who need help and lots of it. And there’s advice to recreate some of these weddings without breaking the bank.

    By the way, I’ve heard more and more of the “two weddings” scenario: one in one locale and one in another, for those who can’t make the first one. It seems to be a really practical solution that keeps lots of people happy, which is JUST the right answer.

    • Yes, our two weddings were certainly a way to keep everyone happy. And we kept them small so they didn’t break the bank! (The travels afterwards certainly did though!)

  7. Meant to add that the “two weddings” works when there are religious issues, too, of course. Long ago a friend got married in Sedona, on the grounds of a resort. It was lovely; my other friends and I wore earth-tone gowns to complement the red rocks, etc. And her parents were there — but insisted on a Catholic wedding, in a church, the following day! My friend and her husband agreed…

  8. I’m looking into the Sandalwood resort for my own honeymoon right now, because of this article. I am also having a Buddhist wedding, but in NY and I can’t wait! Thank you so much for sharing your story. p.s. ETSY rules!

    • I know Sandalwood do honeymoon packages. If you don’t see something you want on their website, it’s worth contacting them. They’re very personable and will work with you – it’s not like speaking to a big, corporate hotel.

  9. Holy crap, the flights from NY are outrageous! Over 2 g’s! Any suggestions for flights/traveling?

    • From the USA, do you fly westbound? You may want to check eastbound because flights from London are fairly reasonable(ish) as it’s such a popular destination. We flew Finnair via Helsinki and it was a fantastic airline and the price was right too.

      The flights are a killer, but you can travel in Thailand for pennies. If you don’t mind staying in very cheap hotels you can stay for literally a few dollars per night. Food is extremely cheap. Even at the fancypants Samui hotel, we ate 3 courses a night with drinks and only paid $30 for both of us.

      I got several 60 – 90 minute massages in spas while we were there and the most I paid was $20. It would be 1/4 the price if you don’t mind going someplace slightly off putting.

      Our actual photos from Thailand are here: Feel free to contact me with Thailand questions. I’m no expert by far, but I’ll try my best. We’re going back next summer.

  10. Thanks! I would be leaving from NY. I haven’t given up hope just yet 🙂 I did notice that it is unbelievably affordable in Thailand, just getting there is expensive. This trip might have to wait until much after the wedding, but it’s on my list for sure.

  11. Wow! That is absolutely a gorgeous ceremony! It’s funny, but I’ve been obsessed with the show M*A*S*H for awhile and in one of the episodes there is a buddhist wedding and it’s just so cool. You two rock!

  12. Hi…can I ask you how much it cost to set up your wedding? My fiance and I are getting married in Thailand in April. We planned to have it on Ko Phi Phi but i’ve been reading some lame reviews of the hotels I thought I wanted to stay in…maybe phuket is a better option?

    • From what I understand, Phuket is really party-touristy (obnoxiously so). Phi Phi is meant to be lovely, but not a lot available in the way of hotels. Krabi, I hear, is a nice alternative. But seriously, I couldn’t recommend Samui enough. Our whole stay at the hotel (3 nights + all meals + entire wedding + spa package) came in at just under UK£1800. Check if April is high season though.

  13. chrissy – thanks for your advice 😉 wow that wedding and that villa for that price? amazing. ugh already booked tix to fly into phuket though. Wonder how long it would take to get to krabi…

    • They’re very close – you can actually take a boat. But do check out Bangkok Airways – really cheap flights between all the major cities.

  14. Hey there! Read your blog as I am planning my wedding in Thailand.. We have lived in Thailand for about 6 months and are planning on having our friends and family come visit and have our wedding as well! I love the Buddhist ceremony pictures, they are really beautiful, I think we will do the same! We are doing ours near Krabi (Elle- check out Air Asia for cheap flights too, just bought tickets to Krabi from BKK for about 30 usd round trip!)

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