If you receive a written invitation to a Thai wedding it will say on the invite what part of the wedding day you have been invited to. In Thailand, it is usually just immediate family and very close friends that attend the events on the wedding day morning including the Buddhist ceremony. Other family, friends and acquaintances will just be invited to the wedding reception or evening meal and party. If you are invited to the Buddhist ceremony or the morning proceedings you will probably see on your invitation that the timing is very precise. This is one of the few times where punctuality is important for Thai people because the ceremonies have been set for an auspicious time, often involving the number 3 or 9 which are deemed to be lucky.
Wedding Invitations and Wedding Gifts
If you do receive a wedding invitation which has your name on the envelope, note that it is normal practice in Thailand for the guest to then use that same envelope when handing over money as a wedding gift. The families will note how much has been given and will reciprocate when it comes to future weddings. If somebody is invited to a wedding but can’t make it, they may still send money as a wedding gift. A normal donation by a guest at an average wedding is between 100 to 500 Baht, but will be more if the guest has a good job or is respected in the community. Status is important in Thai society and if you have flown in from overseas to attend a wedding then you will automatically have some degree of status no matter what job you do back home and so a wedding gift of 1,000 Baht would be more appropriate without being over the top. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the person who has invited you what would be a reasonable amount. Arrangements for collecting the wedding gift vary from wedding to wedding so you may need to ask or simply follow the actions of others. Very often at the evening reception there is somebody at the door who will direct you to where you hand over your gift and sign a book of congratulations. You may receive a small memento or wedding favour in return.
If the bride or groom’s family is of Chinese heritage (which is quite common in certain parts of Thailand) red envelopes may be used. Red is a lucky colour for the Chinese and these envelopes containing money are known as ‘ang pao’ and are also used on other occasions such as Chinese New Year.