Asking permission to marry a bride in Thailand.
It is expected that the groom's family ask to arrange for a meet the parents of the bride to formally discuss their sons desire to marry their daughter.
This is a very formal and traditional thing to do, with the parents of the bride and groom to all be present. It is also most important that two well respected couples from the community to be present to help with the process for each of the families. That is one couple “TAO GAE” (respective old person) for the bride's side and one couple ”TAO GAE” for the groom's side. They will act a references for the bride and groom and vouch for their love and or respectability to marry the other. It is also a way to provide witness, and backup and proof of any thing stated, as well as lets say negotiators in the process. It is required that the couple “TAO GAE” be married to each other, and known to be a good couple, and respected within their community.
In Thailand the bride and her family is to be shown by the grooms of his ability to financially support a wife, as well as his contentment to be a good member of his soon to be extended family.
To that end, he must choose his “TAO GAE” carefully one with brains and the ability to show he is no fool, or to be taken lightly. For at this formal meeting the family of the bride will try to determine the worthiness of the groom as a husband and new member of the family.
The two “TAO GAEs” will talk about the when the weddings will be and what the groom is expect to provide in a wedding from invitations, meals, entertainment drinks to numbers of guests as well as where and when it should be held. As a wedding is probably the most expensive event in the life of the couple, it is so important to make sure one is careful with ones expects, and promises. Sorry it is a given the grooms side pays for all the wedding. PERIOD! This is a Thai wedding not a western wedding.
Then we get down to the ability for the groom to financially afford a wife, sort of the Thai equivalent of the size of the Diamond Ring in the west but more, and so much more important. This is really when the the choice of the proper selection of ones TAO GAE comes into play. If you have one who is not well spoken, and made clear the desirability of you as a husband and did not put forward properly your virtues, this could mean a too high a brides price, “TONG MUN” will be demanded. TONG MUN is sort of the “bridal insurance” that if you die or leave, she will have the security of gold to help her out, if you are no longer around. It will be given to the bride and is not communal property.
The second financial and character judging hurdle is where you are to “repay the mother of your bride for all she did and all expenses she has incurred in raising your perfect bride”, before you marry her. This is a display of respect for your bride and her mother for raising such a amazing lady. It is shown by a gift to the mother in cold hard cash. It is called “SIN SOD” or (milk money) it is going to be shown at the actual wedding so expect it to be high as possible. It will have a “9” in it be it 999 or 9 million, as the number 9 is considered a lucky number in Thailand.
So as you might imagine it is a insult to offer too little and an bad start to offer too much, showing no respect for money . This again is where a gifted and the experienced TAO GAE comes into play.
This tradition will be a fun time if both families, if it is felt that he bride and groom is a match. However it can be a mine field if one side is not too pleased by the idea. Hopefully yours is the better situation. In either case with planning and consideration for both parties it should arrive at a wonderful out come.
Much is written by westerners in English language forums about how little or much a man has to pay for a Thai dowry, or are they being asked too much, or will they get it back or that “I do not buy my bride”. In all, it only shows how little most western men truly know and understand about the history and process of this traditional start to the marriage ceremonies. I have even hear some farangs offer a huge sums, thinking it is the best thing to do. Which is only setting the stage for a train wreck in the future. Thai people, too believe a fool and his money are soon separated and who really wants to marry a fool!
There is no one way to determine, what is right or wrong to way do things, just what is proven to be the better way, by what has worked for generations, that is to be open and do as is truly proven. As it seems to have worked well in the past and today is still workingdone to the checks and balances built-in when done properly and following traditions. ... So do yourself a favor and choose your bride and “TAO GAE” with great care and willingness to understand Thai culture.