Underwater Weddings in Thailand: Legal or Not?

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Underwater Weddings have become so popular in Thailand these past years. Marrying couples who want to have this experience must not forget the more important aspect of their union - the legality of the marriage.

Thailand scored another tourism jackpot when it introduced scuba-diving or underwater marriages. Diving enthusiasts from all over the world trooped to Trang in Southern Thailand to celebrate their marriage in this new fashion. Now, beaches areas from all over Thailand have launched their own scuba-diving marriage events in answer to the increased clamor for underwater weddings. Since its launch in the late 90s, hundreds have been granted the chance to experience this rare opportunity. Engaged couples, couples renewing their vows and even same-sex couples have celebrated their union through this rite.

While the extraordinary underwater experience seems to be the greatest emphasis of the ceremony, the couple must never forget the more important issue of the wedding: the legality of the marriage itself.

Marriage in Thailand consists of two distinct parts: the Wedding Ceremony and the Marriage Registration. The more important of the two is the marriage registration. The marriage is not deemed legal until it is registered at the local register (called the amphur, amphoe or khet). Thus, after the wedding ceremony, the couple must make an appearance at the Amphur for the registration of their marriage. The couple personally meets with the district officer at the Amphur to cause the registration of their marriage.

The underwater wedding and the associated festivities is, in itself, the wedding ceremony. During the ceremony, the couples will be asked to dive down and on the sand bottom, they will register their marriage. They will be met there by a district official who will witness and approve their marriage certificate. This constitutes the marriage registration.

While newly-married couples will receive a marriage certificate, same-sex couples cannot have the same. This is because Thailand does not allow same-sex marriages. Thus, the scuba-diving wedding will just be ceremony for same-sex couples, and nothing more. Their union still cannot be considered a legal one.

If considering having an underwater wedding in Thailand, be sure to ask your organizer if the event will include the signing of the certificate with the attendance of the local district officer. If not, be certain to visit the local amphur after the ceremony to register your marriage in Thailand.

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