“Love is all around us” – goes the famous line of a much-loved pop song. Well, it certainly is here in Thailand, especially in February, when the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony takes place.
This year’s event held from 10-12 February, 2014, was the 18th session to be organised and saw 32 loving couples joined in matrimony below the warm waters of the Andaman Sea.
Throughout the three-day event, love was indeed all around – in the air, on the beach and of course, under the waves, where the loving couples officially tied the knot.
Romance was in the air from the very start, and it all began at Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport when loving couples, along with their guests, were looked after from the moment they checked in.
After a fun flight to Trang, everyone was welcomed at Trang Airport by the friendly locals with sweet smelling garlands of flowers, followed by a ceremonial parade held for the brides and their grooms. Hand-in-hand and beaming with happiness, our happy band of lovers seemed all too eager to join together as man and wife. It was quite a sight.
As well as Thai couples there to enjoy a unique wedding in their home country, there were lovers from all over the world, including a gorgeously-attired twosome from the United Arab Emirates who appeared in their traditional costume and even had their children in attendance as witnesses to their union.
But from wherever they hailed, all the couples sported wide Siamese smiles as they walked on a carpet of flowers and revelled in their welcome.
From the airport, the couples were escorted to the Thung Khai Botanic Gardens where they each planted a tree of love or the Eagle Wood tree that would symbolise their growth together as man and wife.
This tree planting ceremony has been part of the Trang Underwater Wedding nuptials for 14 years. It is always a popular event when the Eagle Wood trees are planted in the rich loamy soil of the province.
Eagle Wood is symbolic for Buddhists and the attractive trees are said to ensure happiness and prosperity for many years to come. The trees will all remain in the gardens, tended by the locals as a mark of the couples’ love.
Over the years, many of the married couples from previous underwater weddings have come back to see how their own special tree is getting on and thriving – it is a living reminder that grows with the couple’s love.
When the afternoon came, brides, grooms and their guests were invited to join in with a traditional Thai wedding ceremony in which water was poured onto the couples’ hands by their loved ones. This water, which joins indivisibly, symbolises how the couples will always be unified and enjoy everlasting love. This charming and timeless event took place in the scented environs of Tubtiang Park and ended with a colourful parade along Trang’s famous Rama VI Road.
The happy couples and their guests were then left for the evening to bask in each other’s love and the sounds of Nok Air’s 10th Anniversary Concert, in which many well-known Thai singers sang famous love songs to celebrate the events of the day. More than 5,000 Trang residents came to join the all-night fun, which surely made more memories for the visitors there to enjoy the nuptials.
Of course, everyone enjoyed the lovely events on-land but it was the underwater activities that the couples were getting excited about. They would get the chance to plunge into the warm waters and tie a knot that would link them forever – among scenes of sumptuous underwater beauty.
The next day was the big underwater event. To ensure the ceremony was special for everyone, only six couples went beneath the waves at Ko Kradan each time. Here they would sign the marriage certificates and become one, legally and forever.
While waiting their turn, the other couples were taken on boat trips around the lovely islands of Trang to release stunning green turtles into the sea. According to a local belief, this is a form of doing good deeds that ensures positive karma into the future and a long life for the brides and grooms.
Once all the couples had taken their time below the waves and sealed their union, the night was given up to celebration on the beach and under the stars. A concert of love songs provided the soundtrack for the nuptials and all the newly-weds sent heart-shaped balloons high into the sky, which erupted in a fireworks display of pyrotechnic perfection – perhaps echoing the fireworks that those couples were feeling with their first kisses as married couples.
The weddings in Trang were once again, a wonderful occasion and will not only provide happy memories for the people getting married, but also for the locals who worked so hard to ensure that this year was more spectacular than the last.
The underwater ceremony is now merely the highlight of what is now a three-day/two-night celebration for couples and their guests, and the event is expected to continue long into the future. And while not everyone was able to go home with a brand new bride or groom on their arm, everyone left with happy smiles, great memories and hearts full of love.
Since 1997, a total of 481 registered couples from 31 countries have made their vows in this most unique of ceremonies.
In 2000, the Guinness World Records recognised the event as The World’s Largest Underwater Wedding Ceremony.
With special thanks to:
The Trang Chamber of Commerce
The Tourism Authority of Thailand Trang Office