Saturday, 04 July 2020

Romance Under the Sea Off Trang

Photos :


By Glory


17 Feb. 2004

Dear Kate,

I haven't heard from you for some time. How have you been? I'm doing well here in Bangkok. How's the weather in Florida? In Thailand, it's getting warmer each day. You know, the Hot Season is knocking on people's doors.

I'm writing this letter because I've got an idea for your wedding plan. I'm talking about the "8th Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony".

The ceremony was held during 13-15 Feb. 2004 at Trang's Muang County and Kradan Island in the Andaman Sea off Trang. Annually, the event is held during the same period to correspond with St. Valentine's Day.

I bet you had a great time on Valentine's Day with Jake. I myself, as a writer, spent my time observing the ceremony. I want very much to share it with you. Trang is about 860 km to the south of Bangkok. It took fourteen hours to travel there by train, twelve hours by air-con bus, and only one and a half hours by plane.

Taking the night bus, our photographer, Annie, and I arrived at Trang Bus Terminal at 7 o'clock in the morning of 13 Feb. We joined the procession at about 10 o'clock. The weather was really hot and the sunshine was so sweltering that I felt as if I were being grilled (but Annie was almost burnt, haha!) Anyway, local people still rushed to see the grandeur of the bride and groom parades.

Most of them sat on litters and were carried in processions while some walked. In the evening, there was a welcome dinner with cultural performances at Thumrin Thana Hotel.

I talked to some brides and grooms about their reasons for participating in the "Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony". Two couples' opinions were outstanding, so they were selected to be elaborated here.

Let's begin with the first couple. Ms Phansira Bonato, a Thai woman who is a flight attendant, told me that she overheard an on-air spot concerning this event. It was about a writing competition of true impressive love stories. Ten out of the participating stories would be chosen and the winners would get a chance to join the "8th Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony" free of charge. She started writing the story of her groom and herself that night.

And yes! Her story was selected. She said, "I'm happy to be here. Daniele (her groom) loves diving and has a licence, so I agree with him to join this ceremony". Mr Daniele Bonato who is an Italian added, "When I go back, this will be a wonderful experience. I'll talk to my friends and relatives about what I did and I think they will like it because in Europe now, Thailand is famous among tourists and everybody loves Thailand. All of my friends will like it. Yes, I will tell them of course. And I will take some brochures for them".

Another couple -- Ms Rungsiya Kongsoithong, a Thai woman and Mr Sushil Ratna Tuladhar, a Nepalese said, "We already planned to get married and we were already engaged. We are divers as well and already got licences as experience divers. We learned about this event from the Internet.

Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony
Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony

We appreciated this thing. So, we moved on to ask about the ceremony and we came here with our own budget to fulfil that".

The next day was the highlight of this event because 13 out of the 48 couples would dive to get married underwater. Now you may wonder why only 13, not all 48 couples. I also had thought that every couple would go diving. The reason was all about safety because beginning divers might face an accident. So, the organizer allowed only those having licences to dive. On that day, we, (the brides and grooms and the press group) set off for Kradan Island, to the southwest of Trang province, early in the morning. There, the "8th Underwater Wedding Ceremony" would take place.

Along the way in the boat, the sun was bright, the sky was clear and the sea was calm, there were no waves at all. It was really an auspicious day for wedding.

When we reached Kradan Island about one and a half hours later, we found the place was decorated with beautiful arches, a heart-shape stage and the ceremony's symbol*. Here, the Thai ceremonies of pouring holy water onto the palms of brides and grooms and of placing holy threads on their heads would be arranged. Apart from the brides and grooms' relatives, the guests included tourists who were coincidentally spending their vacations on the island.

After the process of pouring holy water, thirteen couples who had legal diving licences would get themselves prepared to go diving and to complete the wedding underwater.

About 20 minutes passed when the first group of 6 couples emerged from under the sea. One of them, Ms Rungsiya Kongsoithong and Mr Sushil Ratna Tuladhar, said, "It was so exciting and wonderful. We would like to invite other people to get married this way".

As for Ms Phansira and Mr Daniele Bonato, since the bride still didn't have a licence, they were not allowed to dive. Kate, look at the cheerful photos taken by Annie which I enclose. Now, do you feel like getting married underwater?

That evening of 14 Feb. was the perfect time for celebration. Dinner was arranged on the "Underwater Wedding Beach" with a band playing romantic songs. Mr Tuladhar surprised his bride by going on the stage, sitting in the drummer's position, having his brothers and other relatives play other instruments and performing Eric Clapton's masterpiece "Wonderful Tonight".

Oh Kate! At that moment, guests were waving sparklers in accordance with the tune and I thought "How wonderful!". The song was just perfect for the night. It was so sweet. At the end of the feast, couples floated lit lanterns together. Hundreds of them drifting in the air with the dark blue sky as a backdrop provided a magical scene.

The next day (15 Feb.) all couples went to plant champak trees at the Arbor for Love' 2000 Garden in the Southern Botanical Garden (Thung Khai) to the south of Muang County. This project for wedding couples to grow trees was initiated in 2000. Up to now, there are 412 trees, with labels bearing the growers' names and dates of planting.

Growers will continuously receive reports on their tree's progress. Some still pay a visit here once a year. This was the last activity of the "8th Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony".

Now Kate, if you and Jake want to find more information, just visit I'd better end this long letter here and will write you again soon. Hope to hear from you. Don't forget to give Jake my regards, ok?

Best wishes,


Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony
Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony

A Brief History of Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony

"Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony" has been arranged for eight consecutive years. And "Trang Season of Love", starting annually from December to May is an accompanying campaign to draw more tourists to the province. During these months, the Andaman Sea will not be affected by the monsoon. The sky and the sea are in their most beautiful state. It is the most suitable time to dive because divers will be able to see coral reefs clearly. Also, Trang has been planned to be introduced as a Romantic Destination.

The ceremony was recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest underwater wedding of the world and as the underwater wedding ceremony in which the largest amount of wedding couples ever joined.

The Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony was held for the first time in 1996. It was initiated by Khun Yongyuth Wichaidit (then Trang Province Governor) and Khun Surin Tothapthiang (then the President of Trang Chamber of Commerce). There were two couples participating in the first-time ceremony.

The background of a couple of divers -- Mr Nopphadon and Ms Phorada Surathin -- will be briefly described here. At that time, both of them were volunteers for the programme "Giving Back Natural Condition to Coral Reefs". They met each other there. After that, an intimate relationship began as they shared the same interest. Ms Phorada added, "When you go diving, it's all natural, no make up and people will see your true colour". When they planned to get married, the "1st Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony" was ready to be arranged. So, they decided to join it and became the first couple who got married this way. Now, they have three kids. All are going to be trained as divers as well.

Special thanks to Trang Chamber of Commerce, Thumrin Thana Hotel and Siam PR Consultant for the kind assistance they gave Annie and me during our visit to the event. -- Glory

It consisted of two pink oxygen tanks, each with a cartoon of a cute fish representing a bride and groom.

 For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see Romanization System of the Thai Language.

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