Thai Language Blog

The Thai Wedding Reception Posted by on Jan 23, 2011 in Beginner, Culture

I’m recalling an after-wedding reception party I once went to in Bangkok. I didn’t know any of the participants, but the lovely girl I was dating at the time required me to accompany her while she celebrated with her friends. Ok . . .

The story actually starts about a week before, when she discovered I brought no formal clothing with me to Thailand. So we took a trip to a store not far from MBK, the big mall near Siam Square, Bangkok. I had to get a suit appropriate for the occasion. It was one of those outlet malls with stores crammed next to each other. As a side note, we stayed far away from the thousands of fast-talking Indian/Arab owned custom tailored suit stores, as they are well known for scams and such.

Anyway, you won’t find changing rooms in places like these. You just wrap a blanket around yourself, and pray you can coordinate everything without having an ‘incident’. So I try on several suits, nothing too exciting. Then my girl and her tailor decided I needed a bright pink flashy shirt without tie. Ok, definitely alarm bells going off in my head now! They kept insisting I looked good with it on, and it’s perfectly normal in Thailand. I explained the western ‘blue for boys pink for girls’ concept, but they wouldn’t have any of it. I lost that argument.

Just as I gave in, they then insisted I pull the pink collar over the grey suit coat, have the pink sleeves stick out a few inches further than the suit coat sleeves, and unbutton several pink shirt buttons. Now I’m thinking to myself, if I was in the US and not ‘straight’, I’d definitely dress like this when going clubbing . . . I lost this argument too.

So the night of the reception, I’m obviously feeling all awkward. And not just because the way I’m dressed, but because I’ll be the only farang and wouldn’t know anyone else there. Apparently someone had connections in the Thai military, and arranged for the reception to be at a small military base called Sanam Pao (สนามเป้า). I pass by that base often when I ride the Sky Train, and I occasionally see horses or helicopters. And on rarer occasion even hear small/large arms fire, too. My theory is that it’s an officer’s club.

We drive into the base passing the armed soldiers at the gate, and park the car. Walking up to the reception building, everyone is taking pictures with the bride and groom. I’m required to do so as well, and they didn’t have a clue as to who I was . . . mutual feeling! Good thing every other guy there had a pink shirt on, so I guess I at least partially fit in . . .

The thing is, the Thai couple that got married has Chinese roots, and they live in Bangkok – which means that it wasn’t a pure Thai celebration, but a Thai/Chinese/Western mix. As with all Chinese weddings, your worth is measured by the number of people you invite to the wedding – hundreds and hundreds! The hall was packed! There was also, as traditional with Chinese weddings, a 7-course dinner. That basically means you’re stuffed by course #5 and the rest just goes to waste. Most of the courses were classy Chinese food, like shark-fin soup . . .

Towards the end of the reception, the married couple went around one by one to the 50+ tables to thank everyone for coming. There were a few people who gave a few quick talks, there was piano music playing in the background, etc. And then there was a western bouquet throw! All the younger women eager to get married lined up to catch it . . . makes you think how the world is becoming one great big melting pot!

คำศัพท์ใหม่ (new vocabulary)

Chinese           จีน

wedding         งานแต่งงาน

suit                   ชุด (this word is tapsap, ie taken from English)

pink                  สีชมพู

shirt                 เสื้อ

awkward        อึดอัด

Oh, and for viewing fun, here is a video of a random Thai wedding reception I found on youtube:

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