Thai the Knot
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The following article about our wedding appeared in the New Zealand magazine Woman Today. It is 99% accurate, though all quotes are composites at best, and is an interesting glimpes into how our wedding might be portrayed in a lifetime movie.


Another way to Thai the Knot


When Colin, a San Francisco-area business executive, proposed to his biochemistry PhD bride Laura, he had but one request, “I want to ride in on an elephant.” Since elephants are scarce in California, Colin and Laura joined a growing trend of bold young couples vowing to find an alternative to the traditional way of saying, “I do.” They found it in the tiny beach town of Kamala on the island of Phuket, the leading island holiday destination in Thailand.


Though it’s common for some ‘destination weddings’ to be arranged beforehand by a hotel or local wedding planner, Colin and Laura decided to do it their way. “We left a few weeks before our family and guests arrived and arranged our entire wedding during that time,” says Colin. “There were some anxieties about flight arrivals, and I ended up going back and forth to the airport three times in one day, but otherwise, it was all good.”


Known for its stunning coastal scenery and active nightlife, Phuket greets the visitor with the scent of frangipani blossoms and friendly smiles from the locals. As you wind your way from the airport to Kamala, the hum of motorcycles grows softer and white, powder-sand beaches beckon. Here and there, your eye catches a fleck of gold from a Buddhist temple hidden in the trees, and it’s not uncommon to see one of those aforementioned elephants hard at work.


Because their small party of 12 had different budgets to work with, Colin and Laura gave them a choice of accommodation: the upscale Kamala Beach Hotel (doubles from $72 with balcony and sea view), and the more budget-conscious Benjamin Resort (doubles from $14). In their rooms, guests found goodie bags containing locally-produced candies, a parasol/umbrella, a small bottle of champagne and a program explaining the meanings of symbolic Thai wedding traditions.


After settling in, the guys gathered together for a day of sea kayaking through rock coves, while the girls pampered themselves at the beauty salon. Since luxuries like a massage on the beach start at around $10 per hour, both the happy couple and their guests could afford to indulge! Then both bride and groom were off to their respective hen and stag nights. “I was back in our hotel room by midnight,” says Colin. “But Laura didn’t get back until after 3 a.m.!”


When the big day dawned, Laura was up early, having her hair done up and studded with tiny white flowers. Instead of the usual frothy concoction, Laura’s fitted wedding dress was custom-made for her in hand-embroidered jade silk. “It was a little hot in there,” Laura remembers. “The fabric doesn’t really breathe. Colin was happy, though; he said his black silk suit felt like pyjamas!”


For a final touch on a wedding full of surprises, Colin and Laura treated all of their guests (and themselves) to an elephant ride up the crest of a rocky cliff, where a traditional arch of flowers stood in stark, simple beauty, overlooking the sea. In traditional Thai fashion, the bride and groom were blessed by guests pouring water over their hands, and the groom’s parents placed crowns of flowers upon their heads as local children giggled in the tall grass. After the ceremony, the guests drank a champagne toast to the newlyweds, and once safely at the bottom of the hill, everyone had a chance to cuddle the resident tame monkey. (For more information on Kalim Elephant Trekking, check out


After the spectacular ceremony, the couple eschewed the typical banquet hall reception in favour of a picturesque wooden junk boat, complete with pirate-ship trimmings, a three-course Thai feast and a fairy-tale ending – a sail into the sunset. Though this wedding was anything but typical, the couple have no regrets. “If I had it to do over again,” muses Colin, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”


Editor’s note: If you are interested in getting married in Thailand, there are legal requirements you’ll need to fulfil and documents you’ll need to bring. Visit for Thai requirements and (freephone 0800 22 52 52) to ensure that your marriage is legally recognised in New Zealand.