A guide to getting married in Thailand - Part 1
It's ceratainly not as simple as going to Las Vegas and paying an Elvis impersonator $20 for a marriage certificate. I can say with great authority that your wallet will be significantly lighter at the end of the process!!!
I will endeavour to explain everything in a step by a step fashion, in case any of my readers are considering taking the plunge.
However, please be aware that I am writing this from the perspective of a British citizen and passport holders from other countries may require additional documentation and information. The rules and regulations often change, so please double check everything that you will need, with your respective emabssy.
Here is a link to the British embassy which will prove helpful for my UK readers.......
The first stage in the marriage process requires you to download a copy of a document called "a freedom of affirmation to marry". You will need to re-type it, to include your personal details and then print a couple of copies.
This will be followed by a trip to the Consular Section of British Embassy in Bangkok, to get the affirmation signed, stamped and authorised.
Here is the link to the document you will need.....
The embassy is located at 14 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330. The Consular Section is open Monday's to Thursday's from 08:00 to 11:00 and from 13:00 to 14:00 for collections. Friday opening hours are 08:00 to 11:00 with collections from 11:00 to 12:00.
Knowing that dealing with government organisations is laborious and time-consuming and the chances of us getting all the paperwork we needed in one day were slim, we decided to stay in Bangkok for a couple of nights.
We left Pattaya on the 05.30 Ekkamai bound bus (which costs 113 baht) and disembarked about 2 hours later at On Nut. From On Nut we took the BTS (Skytrain) to Ploenchit (30 baht) and from there it is a short walk to the embassy.
The embassy looks like a prison from the outside with metal revolving gates, bag searches and razor-wire topped walls!!! But, the security staff were polite and spoke good english.
The consular section was relatively quiet, with only 4 other people waiting, but that didn't come as a surprise, considering it was 8.15 in the morning.
Upon entering, you print a ticket from a machine, which gives you your queue number. We then waited about 45 minutes before I was called to be processed.
They need the affirmation of freedom to marry document that you have prepared in advance and they also take a copy of your passport. The lady who dealt with me was very efficient and courteous and it only a matter of minutes to submit the documents and get a receipt which looks like this.......
My one complaint, was the fee that is charged for this service, an eye-watering 2,725 baht (approximately £58). The Chargé D'Affaires, Mr Asif Anwar Ahmad should change his name to Dick Turpin.....because that's highway robbery!!!
Having plenty of time to kill we decided to head to our hotel, the Golden Chain, which was in the Sampeng area of China town. The taxi journey from the embassy took about 20 minutes and cost about 170 baht. We chose Sampeng because it's famous for cloth and textiles and my wife-to-be wanted to look at outfits and other essentials for our wedding day.
The hotel was in a good location, being close to shops, markets and restauarants. However, it looked very run down and could have done with a lick of paint, but for 470 baht I suppose we couldn't really complain.
With it's odd juxtaposition of plastic chairs, antique chinese furniture and a lift that was so old, guests weren't allowed to operate themselves, coupled with a dwarf at the reception, made it feel like something from the League of Gentleman.
We took the opportunity to have a stroll aorund Sampeng and for shopaholics it's an absolute paradise and certainly puts the bustle into bustling!!!
Our shopping trip would have lasted for the rest of the day, if my affianced had had her way, but there was the small matter of returning to the Embassy to pick up the paperwork.
The consular section only allows the collection of documents between 1pm and 2pm Monday to Thurday and 11.00 to Midday on Friday.
Once you have collected your stamped and authorised "freedom of affirmation to marry", which looks like this......
You must then have it translated into Thai. There are plenty of agenices in the vicinity of the embassy, but we were accosted, by 2 employees from "Professional Visa and Translation Services" who promised us a speedy translation service for only 200 baht.
But, professional and speedy they most certainly weren't!!! From the moment we stepped through the door I knew it was going to be a complete and utter disaster.
We were introduced to one employee, who I thought was going to carry out the translation, but she then disappeared and we were kept waiting about 15 minutes, before the managing director, Tony, came to see us. We had a conversation to confirm my details and despite his good command of English, I had to repeat my name about 15 times. I must have looked liked I had Tourettes, waving my arms around and trying to mime my name!!!
We were then shown to their waiting room, which in fairness was very nice with sofa, tv, dvd player etc. It was then that Tony must have forgotten about us and gone for his lunch, as we were kept waiting for the best part of 2 hours. I'm sure they would have left us there for the night had I not reminded them!!!
The length of time spent waiting for the translation meant that we didn't have time to complete the next stage of the marriage process, but it did give us time to do a bit of shopping and dining.
We took the BTS from Ploenchit to Chitlom, which about 1 minute and cost 15 baht. From there, we walked to Platinum Fashion Mall. The mall specialises in wholesale cothing and accessories and for those of a non-shopping persuasion, it's 10 floors of sheer hell!!!!
Here is a link to their site, if you're interested!!!!
En route to Platinum we walked past the infamous Central World shopping mall, which was razed by the "Red Shirt" protesters during the recent anti-government demontrations. A stark reminder that beneath the surface all is not well in Thailand, despite the relatively calm at the moment.
We rounded our day off with a lovely Japanese meal at a restaurant called Ramen, a short stroll from Platinum. There was a lovely steamed sea bass in a chilli and garlic sauce, two plates of katuse-kare (Japanese style curries with breaded chicken and pork), fried vegtables, together with plenty of liquid refreshment, all for under 900 baht.