Some time ago I had the pleasure to introduce you to Tropical Weddings Thailand, a wedding planning company based in Thailand run by Brit Lesley Chittayanon (link to the post here).  On that occasion we shared a brief description of what their capabilities are and why hiring a planner when planning a wedding abroad is essential. Today, however, Lesley has been super kind and has given us a deep dive into destination weddings, the pitfalls to be avoided, tips to follow and emerging trends.

I’m warning you, it’s a lengthy post, but a must read if you are contemplating to get married in a different country. I’ve decided to split it into two parts, with Lesley’s top 5 tips and the pitfalls to be avoided being posted this afternoon, so come back at 1pm for a round up of her advice.

Over to Lesley.

♥ Lesley, how did you get into wedding planning and why do you operate from Thailand?

My company operating from Thailand was a natural choice as I have lived in Krabi (South Thailand) for almost ten years with my Thai husband and six year old son, and as a planner, I believe it is absolutely essential to be based on the ground at my client’s destination in order to provide a complete service.

Thailand is a fantastic destination for weddings and honeymoons. Aside from lending an outstandingly beautiful setting for your wedding ceremony, the country is world-renowned for its warm hospitality, delicious cuisine, warm sunny climate, luxury spa culture and world class resorts. I feel so privileged to live in a destination which has so much to offer and it is an absolute joy to share it with couples who would like to have their wedding in Thailand.

Previously I worked in event planning, PR and magazine journalism in the UK, then relocated to Thailand and worked as a travel writer, eventually gaining my own travel column in a local English-language newspaper. As a Thailand travel columnist, I gained invaluable insight into the local travel industry, as well as compiling a healthy portfolio of useful contacts in the service and hospitality industry.

Since organising my own wedding in Thailand, I have always had a penchant for all things destination wedding-related. After observing weddings arranged by local planners on the beaches of Krabi, it occurred to me that my own ideas about how to improve it could be brought to life – by me!  I also realised that the combination of my skills, experience, local travel knowledge, understanding of the local culture and language, would enable me to provide a really excellent service for foreigners wishing to marry in Thailand. And aside from these skills, my intrinsic understanding of the concept of a Western wedding would also be an asset to local resorts or potential wedding venues, allowing us to team up and create truly spectacular events! And so Tropical Weddings (Thailand) was born!

♥ What kind of couple tends to go for a destination wedding?

Destination weddings seem to be slightly more popular among couples of different nationalities or backgrounds. For example, we are currently working on plans for a wedding for a Australian bride and Irish groom; this type of couple tend to have guests jetting in from different corners of the globe, so choosing a destination wedding cuts the travel distance for many guests and also sets an equal playing ground for both families of the couple.

There is also a tendency for couples who are remarrying to choose a destination wedding, as they prefer a smaller, more low key event the second time round.

However, other couples who choose to marry in Thailand don’t really fit any particular category, but they choose a destination wedding for any number of reasons including, the idyllic setting, greater intimacy, less expense, to be ‘different’, or because they plan to honeymoon in the destination. Many couples choose Thailand as their destination choice as they dream of a sunset beach wedding, al fresco reception dinner under the stars and waking up to paradise on their honeymoon. This is a popular dream wedding for many couples and what Tropical Weddings (Thailand) specialises in!

The notion of a destination wedding blends the allure of travel, a stunning, maybe even exotic location, and an extended intimate celebration with close family and friends. Who wouldn’t go for that!

♥ What would be your top 3 considerations for a couple trying to decide whether to get married abroad?

1. Does the idea of a far-flung wedding in a different culture excite you, or terrify you? Working with a good wedding planner, who you can communicate with well, ensures your wedding will be exactly how you imagined; however, it’s impossible to visualise every last detail from afar. Are you comfortable with entrusting a planner with your arrangements or could that turn your wedding into a stressful affair?

2. It is important to consider the possibility that someone special will be able to attend, perhaps due to of budget constraints, work commitments, or they simple aren’t able to travel – an elderly grandparent, for example. Is this too heartbreaking? A common solution is having a second celebration at home with those who can’t attend your destination wedding.

3. Destination weddings tend to be longer celebrations, including welcome and farewell parties. For most couples this extended break with close family and friends makes their wedding even more special and memorable. Others would rather confine this time to one day. How do you feel?

♥ What would you recommend to the adventurous bride and groom that wish to do something out of the ordinary instead of the traditional beach wedding?

I really recommend a wedding in Krabi for this type of couple, as the local landscape is like a giant adventure playground designed by nature! Couples can pledge their vows while climbing one of Krabi’s stunning limestone karsts. Alternatively, they can invite a rainbow of tropical fish to be their witnesses and tie the knot during a dive in the Andaman Sea.

For the less energetic couple, Tropical Weddings (Thailand) can arrange Buddhist blessing wedding ceremonies at various locations, from a gleaming gilded mountain temple to a cave-based temple. We can also arrange weddings on traditional sailing yachts, which provide the ideal venue for themed weddings.

Basically, we are in the business of bringing dream weddings to life, so we are open to all ideas, themes and styles of wedding.

♥ What do you enjoy the most about your job?

My job involves creating beautiful meaningful celebrations which seal a couple’s love and eternal commitment – so it is all so incredibly enjoyable! I work with people from many different corners of the world – so it always interesting and a learning experience.

From the early planning stages it is so lovely to hear how every couple imagine their wedding day, and of course, each picture is so unique! As the plans progress and I present different ideas, the couple’s excitement bubbles over and it is so infectious! I’m quite a creative person, so the planning and designing is an absolute joy for me – it never seems like work at all!

Of course, the absolute height of enjoyment is on the actual wedding day. Myself and my team spend so many hours perfecting the details, then when we see the finished ceremony set-up it is so rewarding! During the ceremony, I am on the sidelines ensuring everything is smooth, but of course it is hard not to get involved in the emotion of the ceremony! But the ultimate high is congratulating the couple after the wedding, feeling the love all around, and hearing their appreciation of our work and how much they loved every last detail of their most special celebration!

♥ What makes Tropical Weddings (Thailand) unique?

Firstly, the service we offer sets us aside from other local planners, as we can provide the invaluable balance of excellent English-language communication skills, complete understanding of the concept of the Western wedding, as well as being able to work and communicate well with local suppliers and understand Thai business and culture.

Communication is so important when planning a destination wedding, and as I am a native English speaker, there is little chance of misunderstandings due to language. Likewise when dealing with suppliers, it is important to be able to get the very best service and price available, and being based here long term with a Thai business partner, enables me to work more effectively as a planner and negotiate better prices with venues and suppliers. Not forgetting, the very concept of a Western wedding is still very foreign to many Thai resort staff, even at management level, so it is important to hire a Western planner who is based on the ground at your destination.

Our ability to communicate in both languages and understand both cultures, means couples can relax in the knowledge their ideas and plans are understood and noted and that their wedding will be a beautiful flawless event!

An aspect of our weddings which is so important to us – we have even incorporated it in the name of our company name ‘Tropical Weddings (Thailand)” – is one word – ‘tropical’. We feel so inspired by the lush nature which surrounds us and appreciative of the tropical paradise which lends us a backdrop for our work, so we are committed to creating beach weddings which enhance the natural setting, as opposed to distracting from it. Just as the greatest architectural works are designed to blend harmoniously with their surroundings, we aim to create wedding ceremony set-ups which fit seamlessly with this stunning tropical location. So the bamboo altar looks like it sprung up from the sand, alongside the leaning palm! We incorporate subtle accents of nature to our weddings, ranging from handmade floral glass decorations to decorative leaves sewn onto wedding program covers. There is no limit to the possibilities or shortage of inspiration, as nature is surely the best designer around!

♥ And finally, to get to know you a bit better, tell us something about yourself…

Well, my friends back home will recall my phobia of all winged creatures, even butterflies and moths, but now I am proud to say that after almost ten years of living with a strong air force of super-sized bugs and other creatures –  I am finally getting over my fear!

Our Tropical Weddings (Thailand) office is located in a lush and leafy enclave of Krabi, and has wide open doors and windows, which is a fantastic environment for working, but at least once a day I find myself ducking as some big buzzing creature flies in overhead! We seem to have an open-door policy for nature, winged or clawed, and the funniest sight yet was a terrestrial crab scampering sideways across the terrace of our office! Welcome to the tropics!

Thank you Lesley for your insights!

Lovely couples, to read Tropical Weddings (Thailand) top 5 tips, pitfalls and trends they see emerging, come back at 1pm part 2!

Image Credits: All images from Linda Narin and Wasana Born of Luxurina Studio 

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