Fairy Tale Weddings in the Land of Smiles
Hua Hin, just a couple of hours’ drive out of Bangkok, of late has spun out a whole new narrative to soar high on Thailand’s list of popular holiday hotspots. With its gorgeous settings and numerous cosmopolitan allurements, this seaside district has emerged as a glittering gem in Thailand’s bouquet of tourist attractions. Flanked by the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, its plethora of beachside resorts and swanky hotels also offer great venues for weddings, including traditional Indian weddings, whose number and frequency have been steadily on the rise.
The big fat Indian wedding has never had it so good. Great weather, easy access, great stays and Michelin-style culinary journeys make Hua Hin the cherry on the pie.
“Indians love Hua Hin for its seaside setting, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Also, compared to Pattaya, it is free from distractions and guests are more inclined to stay on site instead of wandering off into the town,” says Ram Sachdev, the president of the Thai Indian Wedding Association (TIWA).
Happy to serve
Consequently, a host of luxury resorts and hotels strung along Hua Hin’s pearly seas have started pulling out all stops to accommodate the cavalcade of ceremonies that typify Indian weddings, especially for Marwaris, who are willing to spend a packet just to make everything perfect for the couple and the guests.
Marwari weddings are grand, extravagant affairs and what Marwaris really appreciate is the venue and the staff living up to their expectations, when it comes to ensuring the pomp and grandeur that the community is accustomed to—unflaggingly over the 3-4 days of ceremonies and rituals that come with it. Even the priests and chefs (who specialise in preparing traditional Marwari fare) are flown in to ensure a spread that the community is used to back home. Thai hotels and resorts now have the expertise and capabilities to handle this with elan. Says Bangkok-based Indian wedding planner Nipunika Singh, “Plenty of Marwari weddings take place in Hua Hin. The hotels are capable of handling their requirements and are experts in handling their F&B needs, along with the available support of many top-notch caterers based in Bangkok. Many of the hotels even allow buyouts, giving hosts the ability to take over the whole property and really personalise the wedding experience for their guests.” Singh, whose firm, Élan Events by Nipunika, coordinates with clients via e-mail or Skype to discuss details minutely reveals that an average two trips are the norm during the planning process.
Among the hundreds of venues available to customers, there, however, are some that are recognised leaders for their experience and expertise such as Sheraton Hua Hin. Says Nipunika Singh, “Sheraton Hua Hin has got the Indian wedding formula just right, and many wedding clients prefer a tried-and-tested venue, instead of an allnew venue.” Other top venues include Dusit Thani Hua Hin, SO Sofitel Hua Hin and Hyatt Regency Hua Hin & The Barai. Novotel Hua Hin Cha Am Beach Resort and Spa likewise ranks high amongst wedding locations, having been chosen the ‘Best Wedding Destination’ by Indian magazine Wanderlust. Anantara Hua Hin resort has customers calling up directly to set up the whole show. It spares no effort to turn its beachfront lawns and ballrooms into magical memories with elegant decor and flawless service.
AVANI Hua Hin Resorts & Villas stands out for it beautiful beachfront and has a choice of indoor and outdoor venues for various ceremonies, its lush gardens being a huge draw as well.
Rising to the occasion
Wedding expenses in Thailand typically include airfares, hotel accommodation, food, transportation, hired yachts and the actual wedding ceremony expenses for typically around 200 overseas guests. According to one socialite, flying everyone is not only cheaper but it also adds to your status! Quick to take advantage of this growing trend, Thai Tourism too has been actively promoting Thailand as a wedding destination in the Indian market. According to one conservative figure, about 400 Indian weddings are hosted in Thailand every year.
But things are changing. Says Singh, “Expectations have increased as everyone’s vision has widened. With access to social media, wedding blogs and Pinterest, everyone looks for more. This means our clients request for more variety and want to explore many options before settling for their wedding designs.” But no matter what it takes or how tall the order is, Thailand seems prepared.
Dusit Thani Hua Hin
Stands along the Gulf of Thailand. Once a summer retreat for Thai royals, it is reputed for its excellent arrangements and back-up facilities. Additionally, Dusit offers both style and comfort with its elegant guest rooms, public spaces and an array of indoor recreational facilities.
Sheraton Hua Hin
Is highly flexible and has an array of venues for different ceremonies. It also has an excellent banqueting facility that makes it a priority destination on the wedding planner’s list.
SO Sofitel Hua Hin
Rolls out a range of fairy tale scenarios, thanks to its romantic beachside environs. With its contemporary design, indulgent amenities and impeccable service, it is one of Hua Hin’s loveliest luxury resorts in Cha-Am for modern couples to tie the knot.
Hyatt Regency Hua Hin & The Barai
Organises Indian weddings in association with several local wedding planners. A great draw for wedding guests is their awardwinning spa, The Barai, which boasts 18 treatment rooms and 8 well-appointed exclusive residential spa suites.