Getting married in Thailand

February 10, 2013

Normally I like going to weddings because there is free food and entertainment, but the wedding I went to two weeks ago was different in two ways as the food was not free at all and I was the one getting married (which explains why the food was not free). The wedding was an absolute blast but since there was nobody present representing the government we still had to arrange the legal papers at a later stage in order to change the title of my significant other from Miss to Mrs.

Ready to get married :-)

Ready to get married :-)

Months ago I already arranged papers back home proving I was currently not married. This was quite easy to do since the request for the papers could be filled in online and I just had to sit next to the mailbox for 3 days waiting for the papers to arrive. While searching in the burning heat for the Dutch embassy to get a “Certificate of capacity to contact marriage” would be less easy I quickly realized when I was in the middle of the proces. The map on the website of the embassy pointed the location to the middle of the horse race track in Bangkok where no embassy was to be found. The Thais in that neighborhood soon realized it is not always smart to smile at farangs since whoever looked my way could expect a question for directions. They all pointed me a bit further to the correct location which was a good kilometer away from the point on the map which seemed to prove that they had hired a local Thai to create the map on the website for them, or the designer of the website had no idea where he was actually working.

It seems the embassy is here

It seems the embassy is here

The line does not move quickly at the Dutch embassy which gave me abundant time to hear my fellow countrymen prove that even if you live in this country for a couple of years already that does not mean you understand anything of what is happening around you. Maybe time for some of them to actually read something about this country instead of just drinking beer Chang, the cheap piss from the local supermarket, and eating fried rice to wash it away at 25 baht a meal.

The Dutch embassy is located in a typical Thai building

The Dutch embassy is located in a typical Thai building

The formalities were short with the attaché and about 45 minutes later I was already on my way to a translator to get the English papers translated into unreadable miniature drawings that Thais call their alphabet. After only 5 minutes she spotted a typing error in the official documents; could it be that the embassy had had their first Dutch citizen asking for this document ever and needed to type it quickly while I was waiting? And to be able to service me in the best way possible they even tried to save time by ignoring the spelling check which is available in every version of Word? It sure seemed like it. 

To is marriage, or to his marriage?

To is marriage, or to his marriage?

Now that the documents were complete and translated it was time to get them legalized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok. The entrance of this huge building is shaped like a pyramid and it does feel like a tourist attraction when Thais flock towards you to offer you a guided tour through the paper labyrinth as soon as you step into the air conditioned building. Soon after finding the right window to conduct our legalization business it became clear that this could be a long wait, luckily where there is money there is a way in Thailand. For 800 baht instead of 400 baht it is possible to step onto the “priority” train and cut right in front of all the bored looking people who where there hours before you entered the building. Twenty minutes later we were outside again with the promise we could pick up the papers the next day.

Tourist attraction: ministry of foreign affairs

Tourist attraction: ministry of foreign affairs

The final step to getting legally married was to have all the necessary papers filled out at a local district office. Together with all the needed documentation and a witness we entered the district office but the lady there seemed not too helpful, maybe we just caught her on a bad day or it was about time for her to go to lunch. In the rules, which she has to follow to the letter since she is not allowed to think for herself, it said I needed papers from my embassy proving I was “qualified” to get married; I had the necessary papers but the word “qualified” was not in it anywhere. The story ended here but luckily Bangkok is a big city and there are many district offices spread throughout the city.

The romantic wedding location

The romantic wedding location

So we went on to the second district office where a friendly lady understood the papers from an embassy are standardized texts and they will not add a word like “qualified” there just because someone cannot understand that you can say the same on a document in many different ways with or without using that one particular word. She started to fill in the papers and we just had to sit and smile there. Since she did not speak a word of English my fiancée could translate everything for me, after which I answered the question in English to the government officer who then quickly looked at my fiancée again to have her repeat what I said with a Thai accent. To make a long story short, after 45 minutes we walked out of there without being charged anything but married.

Officially married

Officially married

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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