In recent years, many couples about to be wed have opted for destination weddings – i.e., a wedding held overseas, often combined with a honeymoon – as a more interesting alternative to the traditional hometown ceremony.
The choices of destinations are almost limitless, but for many, Asia has been a particular favourite, combining as it does the virtues of cheap prices, beautiful scenery, exotic cultures and an abundance of possibilities for the subsequent oneymoon.
The two most popular places to marry in South East Asia are Bali and Thailand – which is not surprising, considering that both are hugely popular tourist destinations, known for their magnificent scenery and welcoming local culture.
Getting married in Bali
This enchanting Indonesian island, in many ways very different from the rest of the country it is a part of, is usually the first (and often only) place most visitors see during their visit to the great archipelago. Fortunately, Bali meets all the romantic requirements of an exotic wedding destination, with its verdant rice terraces, pristine beaches, beautiful temples and friendly, hospitable people.
Bali also meets all the practical requirements for a memorable wedding, with an abundance of excellent resorts to suit every budget and plenty of companies willing and able to arrange everything, from the most elaborate wedding plans to tours of the island during the honeymoon. One of the biggest private companies offering such services is Bali Exotic Wedding International, which focuses on assisting visitors who want to marry on the island and was founded by an Australian who settled in Bali.
Practically all the big hotels offer wedding packages, from the international chains such as the Ritz Carlton or the Hyatt, to the local hotels such as the Resor Seminyak or the Griya Satrian. The heavy competition helps keep the price reasonable: many of the packages start from about USD 1,000 and up and can come with the services of a wedding coordinator, one to three nights’ stay, document processing, the wedding ceremony itself, dinners, traditional Balinese pre-wedding beauty treatments — and even elaborate Balinese processions!
If you prefer to have a more private affair, you can also opt to hold your wedding and the subsequent honeymoon in your very own villa, which runs for about the same prices and offers the additional benefit of accommodating your guests as well.
There are a number of legal details involved in marrying in Indonesia, which your wedding company should take care of. Alternatively, you may choose to file the papers yourself or engage a lawyer to do so on your behalf. Whichever way you choose to do so, these are the requirements you’ll need to meet before you are legally married:
An Indonesian marriage requires both a civil and religious ceremony, both of which can be organized by the wedding company. You are required to state your religion in order to marry, in accordance with a 1974 Indonesian law which states that “a marriage is legitimate if it has been performed according to the laws of the respective religious beliefs of the parties concerned.” The Civil Registry Office recognizes wedding ceremonies held under the Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant or Buddhist codes. Unfortunately, atheists and agnostics are not recognized. The two persons must be of the same religion.
Those intending to wed in Bali must file Certificate of Non-Impediment and a Notice of Intent to Marry with the Registry Office. The imposing sounding Certificate can be obtained from your home country’s consulate and declares that neither you nor your significant other are being forced into marriage. If you’ve been married before, you’ll need to furnish the Registry Office with a divorce certificate or a death certificate on your previous spouse.
Getting married in Thailand
Thailand has always been a popular destination for holidaymakers looking for some down-time in an exotic tropical locale, with great food and a friendly, welcoming culture. In recent years, many of the visitors who come to Thailand’s shores are there not only to sunbathe and snorkel, but also to tie the knot.
With so many people choosing Thailand as their preferred Asian wedding destination, it’s no surprise that there are many wedding companies in Thailand catering exclusively foreigners wanting to wed in the country. These agencies range from small family operations, all the way up to the big, internationally renowned resorts and hotels.
The smaller companies, with their more limited resources, typically specialize in a particular type of ceremony, whether it’s a Western style ceremony or a traditional Thai celebration. Many companies also limit their range to specific locations, so that one company will handle clients for Phuket, others will operate only for the south, and another will focus exclusively on Bangkok.
The international resorts typically offer wedding ceremony and honeymoon packages, with an option to request the services of a wedding coordinator, and often with a spa visit thrown in. They can generally handle anything from a quick, intimate stay for two, or an event-filled fiesta for three hundred. Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai — all the holiday locations are chock filled with hotels offering competitive wedding and honeymoon packages, with wedding ceremonies starting from US$1,050 and honeymoon packages starting from US$655 for three nights. Quite often, if you reserve a few months in advance, wedding guests receive discounts on their room rates. Three of the more popular Phuket-based international hotels for such packages are the Banyan Tree, the Laguna Beach Resort and the Marriot Resort and Spa, but most of the other resorts will offer comparable deals as well.
To marry legally in Thailand, you are required to have been resident in Thailand for at least three daysbefore you marry. Visitors must acquire a Certificate of Non-Impediment from their home embassy. This document is translated and certified by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then taken to the Civil Registry Office for submission. If either partner has been married previously, the registry will ask you provide proof of divorce and/or death certificate for former spouses. Though the administrative process is fairly straightforward and generally takes about three days, if there are complications the process may take a week or more to complete.
Once all the paperwork is filed, it’s done and you’re married! Of course, most people prefer to have a more romantic ceremony afterwards – and that is when all the fun really begins.