We always envisioned when we finally tie the knot to have a destination wedding as travel was such a big part of our relationship and our lives. Having a destination wedding is a wonderful idea particularly if you want to give your friends and family an experience of a lifetime in a place where they may not have been able to travel to on their own. Our destination wedding was in Chiang Mai Thailand. From the days leading up to the wedding to the extravaganza itself, here’s a run down of our wedding.
Why Thailand for your destination wedding?
We’ve been to Thailand a number of times starting from 2009. Towards the end of our 6 month stay living in Chiang Mai Thailand back in 2011, we started playing around with the idea of getting married one day in Chiang Mai. We both loved our time in Chiang Mai and wanted to share this magical place with our family and friends. Both of us at the time never thought it would come true nor knew how awesome it would end up being.
Fast forward a few years later when we got engaged at the beginning of 2015, we had set the date for the wedding (January 8th 2015) and we just moved to Santiago Chile for a business grant in early March. We thought of getting married in Chile since we were already there and wanted a destination wedding. However our family and friends mentioned to us that it would be too expensive for them to attend and the likelihood of family coming was low. We wanted at least our immediate family there and didn’t mind a small wedding at all. In consideration of this, we decided to have our destination wedding in Chiang Mai Thailand as a half way point from Chile and Australia. It was definitely somewhere that we both loved and wanted to share with our loved ones and hopefully shed light on why we choose to live there for 6 months.
Bangkok pre-wedding celebrations with friends
Before we got married, we planned to spend 3 days in Bangkok with friends who were attending the wedding and took the time to holiday. Our bridal crew organized to stay at the Orchid Hotel in Bangkok and we had our first dinner with everyone at Cabbages and Condoms. Cabbages and Condoms is truly a unique, one of a kind restaurant that serves pretty good Thai food with a social mission behind it.
Afterwards, we headed over to the night scene of Bangkok and partied until our hearts were content (around 3am). The second day was a free day where couples were able to travel and explore Bangkok. We then separated to do a hen’s/buck’s night. On the third day we went our separate ways flying into Chiang Mai to welcome family who were coming in 2 days early to help us set up.
The lead up to the wedding day
As family and friends started to arrive in Chiang Mai, we had organized a welcome lunch to bring all our guests together in one place before the wedding. We had pizza, my favorite. This was the day before the big day and also the first time we saw a lot of our friends and family all in one place outside of Australia. It was definitely an emotional and overwhelming experience to say the least. We had friends coming from Taiwan (who we met when we lived there for a year and a half), friends from Sydney Australia and of course family from Australia and Philippines. We then took them to iBerry, one of our favorite spots in Chiang Mai for desert.
Friends and family members who were part of the wedding ceremony were then taken to the church for a quick rehearsal, followed by an early night so we could finalize any decorations and planning that needed to be finished. I remember staying up late to finish everything on time.
The wedding day
Our wedding day was broken up into four parts; the tea ceremony, the church ceremony, private photoshoot and the reception. We integrated both sides of wedding traditions (Vietnamese and Filipino) selecting what we felt was most suitable for our wedding.
Part 1: Tea Ceremony
The night before we choose to sleep in separate rooms so that the tea ceremony would be the first time we saw each other on our wedding day. It was an early morning start at 5am when the makeup artist and videography crew came knocking on the doors. I was rushed into getting my hair and makeup done as we set the tea ceremony time at 9am. We did the tea ceremony as requested by my parents and did it the best way we could. Before the wedding day, we tried our best to get the traditional tea cups, baskets and gifts.
Once everyone was ready, the maid of honor, Maria organised everyone with the gifts and tea. Traditionally the tea ceremony is done at the bride’s family’s house, however since we were overseas, we ended up performing the ceremony on the little balcony outside of my room. Albie’s side of the family presented gifts to my parents. We then presented tea to parents on both sides of the family and in return, received red envelopes filled with money to help us start the new chapter in our lives. We ended the ceremony with a big old kiss and made our way to our separate rooms in preparation of the church ceremony.
A change in outfits and 30 minutes later, our guests were arriving in the church. Albie, the best man and the groomsman made their way to the church. Even Buckwheat our little Yorkshire dog also had a change of clothes.
Part 2: Church Ceremony
The church ceremony was held about a 5 minute walk from where we were living at the time. It was a little chapel, part of the Seven Fountains Spirituality Centre. It was a beautiful place, one that we both would go to mass every Sunday. There was a lot of greenery and even rabbits roaming the grass. We selected this chapel because it really encompasses what we wanted for the wedding; simple, rustic and beautiful.
I remember entering the church and everyone’s phones flashing. It happened so fast and before you know it, I was at the alter standing side by side to Albie. The ceremony was smooth. We hired a string quartet to play all the songs in the ceremony.
Select friends and family members were invited to part take in the ceremony. We did a few Filopino traditions such as the veil, rosary beads and money bag. We also had a dance performed by the little ones from all sides of the family. It was a way to unite the families. This was super cute and everyone enjoyed it. The church ceremony for us was the most important part of the day because this was the time where we would share our written wedding vows and unite together in marriage.
After the ceremony, we took a few photos and made our way to the grass area, where we had organized a light lunch. We worked with a local lady who makes the most amazing vegetarian Thai food. We wanted to share this experience with our guests. The menu included steam buns, spring rolls and rice cakes. Guests enjoyed their light lunch with the string quartet playing modern pop songs that we preselected.
Part 3: Private Photoshoot
We also had a private photoshoot with our photographer, Eric who did an amazing job of keeping us relaxed and happy throughout the whole day. This was straight after the light lunch we provided our guests following the church ceremony. It was good way to unwind from all of the stress and overwhelming feelings and just to breathe a little on our own. We took this opportunity to center ourselves again and take in the moment. If you’ve had your wedding already or spoke to anyone who has, you’ll know that most of the wedding day goes by fast, so much so that it’s hard to take it all in. The photo session allowed us to really embrace the moment and to appreciate what just happened- that we got married!
Rain started pouring down but luckily we were traveling to the resort at the time so most of the down pour didn’t affect the photos or our wedding garments.
The photoshoot was taken in several places which we decided on a few days before the wedding while scouting around Chiang Mai with our photographer. This included around the chapel, at the main gate of Chiang Mai, a few random stops along the way to the reception and the resort where the reception was held. Here are a few of our favorites.
Part 4: The Reception
The reception was about 30 minutes away (1 hour with traffic) from the main center of Chiang Mai. We choose to have the reception at a resort called Kao Mai Lanna. It was a beautiful, rustic and romantic. It fitted perfectly with our chosen theme of a very green, magical and whimsical wedding. Kao Mai Lanna was an eco resort, where the buildings were covered in greenery. We stayed there overnight and shouted our family guests a free night too. Unfortunately the place was booked with a yoga retreat and therefore there was not enough room for our other guests to stay there.
The reception itself was held in the pool area of the resort. The color scheme blue and white, we choose the decor to be simple as the surrounding area was already beautiful. since we both don’t love eating cake, we decided to organize 100 cupcakes with 10 different flavors. Of course we tasted them all before we ordered them 😛
The reception was definitely a wild experience where everyone really enjoyed themselves… a little too much. For us, we were so relaxed that by the end of it, we really didn’t care too much about how it all went, just as long as everyone was having fun celebrating our wedding. During the reception we had to reschedule a few things due to the wet floors and splatter of rain. We were lucky however to be able to complete everything on the schedule besides throwing of the bouquet which we totally forgot about.
There was of course speeches from the dads, maid of honor, best man and the groom. I cried throughout most of the speeches as they were both touching, personal and filled with love. We had our first dance and choose The Corrs, Runaway. For us the meaning behind the song brought us to tears when selecting it. It reminded us of when Albie went to Bangladesh and I basically run away to be with him. It was the most romantic gesture, to drop everything in life and be with the one you love. And ever since then, we’ve been traveling to new and exciting places together, never apart from one another.
We had time to cut the cake and decided to cut the cut with a real sword! This is a Thai tradition done in the Thai wedding receptions and we thought we should incorporate it into ours since we were in Thailand.
The reception part of the day was really focused on giving back to our family and friends who spent their hard earned money and their time coming to our wedding. So we made sure to provide a few experiences that were definitely going to be unique. The first was a fire show, performed by a local act that we scouted for online. They are the only Chiang Mai based fire show performers and we were pleased with the outcome. The show was 30 minutes in total and we hoped that everyone enjoyed the unique show.
We also bought lanterns for everyone to release in the air. Although we were suppose to do this part at the beginning to signify the release of good wishes, love and happiness, we had to do it much later due to the rain. We didn’t take in consideration that our guests at this time had been drinking and enjoying themselves that when we announced what we were doing, everyone got overly excited. Originally the plan was to release the lanterns all at once to make a beautiful and memorable moment together. But since everyone was too excited, our guests went ahead and released them whenever they wanted. It was chaotic and fun.
The reception was held outside in the pool area. We never planned on getting into a pool but as the night went on, the guests started to jump into the pool. We as the bride and groom were thrown into the pool- Yes in my wedding dress and all. As the pool was totally unexpected, some of the guests even jumped into the pool in their undies! It was hilarious and ended the night off in a bang!
The next day
We had organized a farewell lunch the following day at a local all you can eat buffet joint. This was great for our guests to rejuvenate their bodies after a long day and night. We bid farewell to all our guests and thanked them for coming and headed off on our next adventure- Vietnam with the parents!
To describe our destination wedding in Chiang Mai Thialand in a few words, we would say it was magical, adventurous and whimsical. We could of not imagined it going any other way and although some things didn’t work out, throughout the whole planning process and even on the wedding day, we always assured each other that the most important part of the day was getting married in the church. Nothing else mattered in comparison.