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Rich in culture, colour and exotic tropical scenery, Thailand makes for a fabulous holiday. So, it makes sense you’d want to celebrate “I do” in this warm and welcoming land of smiles. Known as the Pearl of the Andaman Sea, Phuket is the country’s biggest island and ticks every box for a romantic destination wedding.
We’ve put together the tips and ideas you’ll need to move swiftly through the planning process and fly directly into the destination wedding of your dreams. Presenting, Phuket…
What makes Phuket the perfect wedding destination?
Blissful beaches & backdrops
Located off Thailand’s south-west coast, Phuket is brimming with photo opportunities and honeymoon adventures. From a sun-kissed coastline dappled with beautiful beaches and otherworldly seascapes to clifftop vistas, lush jungle and vivid island sunsets, the island is picture-perfect for “I do”.
Awesome wedding experiences
Whether you’re planning a beach ceremony, a chapel wedding, or rooftop vows, you and your guests will love the superb choice of venues, hotels, villas and resorts. Think beachfront locations, captivating views, five-star service, and delicious onsite dining. Add a touch of Thai culture with a monk blessing, traditional music or local dance performance for a truly memorable occasion.
Thanks to Thailand’s affordable prices, your dream holiday celebration is within reach (and budget). Choose your Phuket wedding package wisely and you’ll host an unforgettable event full of luxury inclusions.
Dive into one of Phuket’s many undersea and overwater adventures including snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and sailing excursions. Drifting around the islands and legendary limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay is a dreamy way to connect.
Pampering is a highlight of any Thai itinerary. From beach massages to five-star spas, Phuket offers plenty of opportunities to relax and recharge. Many of the island’s standout spas are housed in swanky hotels, resorts and boutique retreats including Six Senses Yao Noi, Amanpuri, Banyan Tree Phuket, The Nai Harn and Sri Panwa Phuket.
Phuket is a party island! So, gather your guests for cocktails and fun at one of the laid-back and luxurious beach clubs. You can’t go wrong with classics Café del Mar at Kamala Beach, Catch Beachclub at Bangtao Beach or Dream Beach Club at Layan Beach for a toes-in-the-sand ambience. Want to dodge the crowds? Seek out the Iguana Beach Day & Sunset Bar, located in a secluded cove between Kalim and Kamala Beaches.
Plan a trip to the Phuket Sunday Night Market. Delectable street food and colourful shopping makes this an unmissable local experience.
What’s a trip to Thailand without a close-up of their stunning nature and wildlife? Khao Lak is ideal for a group wildlife adventure, with monkeys living harmoniously in the wild, or enjoy an ethical elephant encounter at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary.
What to know before you go
Phuket’s beautiful climate offers warm days and balmy nights but also the chance of tropical showers. Be mindful of monsoon season (September/October) if you want the best chance of a sunny ceremony — and have a Plan B in place to put your mind at ease on the big day.
Make it official
If you choose legally binding nuptials rather than a commitment ceremony or renewal of vows, there are several important steps to complete. These include visiting the Australian Consulate-General in Phuket or Australian Embassy in Bangkok and having your documents translated in Thai. Your wedding planner or coordinator will be able to assist or consider enlisting the help of an official registration agency to smooth the way.
Best wedding venues in Phuket
Your celebration deserves the best. So, rather than sifting through a mountain of reviews, we’ve started your shortlist with a handful of the most beautiful and welcoming wedding venues in Phuket:
An elegant sanctuary by the sea, The Nai Harn is an icon of the Phuket landscape. Ideal for elopements and intimate celebrations, this secluded escape offers a choice of Thai or Western ceremonies and will take care of everything from spa treatments and a customized wedding cake to photography and rooftop cocktails. Accommodation is generous and refined (look out for the ‘Press for Champagne’ button in the suites) with views of tranquil Nai Harn Bay or lush tropical forest. Wedding parties will love the Family Wing: four Ocean View Rooms set around a covered outdoor terrace with its own plunge pool. Simply, sublime.
Angsana Phuket embodies tropical romance on Bang Tao Bay. Enjoy a beautiful toes-in-the-sand ceremony, poolside nuptials, or a memorable “I do” in Angsana’s white wedding chapel, which floats above the lagoon. Bringing a crowd? This versatile venue can host up to 400 guests in its Ballroom and even more in the Marquee for a gala-style atmosphere. Angsana’s professional staff will help create your dream day, so leave the details to them! Part of Asia’s first integrated resort, Angsana Phuket Laguna offers plenty of stay and play options for a memorable honeymoon or wedding week.
A chic and modern retreat overlooking a beautiful stretch of Kamala Beach, Cape Sienna Phuket offers a stellar wedding experience with sublime cuisine. The new Sun Deck hosts up to 100 guests while the wedding lawn at Vanilla Sky Bar is ideal for intimate weddings. Beautifully-appointed rooms and suites all capture stunning sea views and couples will love the indulgent cliff villas which feature a deck with private pool where you can soak up the spectacular Phuket sunset.
Located in an exclusive Phuket enclave known as Millionaire’s Row, close to the golden sands of Surin Beach, Twinpalms is tropical luxe honed to perfection. One of the standout features is the choice of stylish venues including a Thai Sala, Presidential Penthouse and the Wine Room as well as the Palm Seaside Restaurant, Lounge & Bar. They can even organise a yacht wedding! A superb selection of residences, rooms and suites are nestled amongst the canopy of palm trees, with selected suites offering direct access to the expansive lagoon pool. Some of Phuket’s best beach clubs are within easy reach, setting the scene for a linger-longer wedding experience.
Are you chasing sunsets for your island soirée? Then don’t miss the swish surrounds of SALA Mai Khao Beach on Phuket’s northwest coast. Celebrate your ceremony on the soft white-sand beach, on the beachside lawn or on the SALA rooftop with a breathtaking sun-drenched backdrop. SALA’s professional wedding team will ensure your dreams come to life, whether it be a menu of delicious local dishes, traditional Thai entertainment or elegant villa accommodation with a private pool. Indulgent package inclusions, such as a Champagne breakfast served to your villa and a two-hour couple’s spa treatment, make this a tempting option for your Phuket holiday wedding.
Whether you have the Gulf of Thailand on your wish list or you enjoy an island holiday here each year, this region makes a superb destination wedding choice. Koh Samui in particular is the quintessential island idyll. Full of friendly faces, swaying coconut palms, and sunsets seemingly painted onto the sky, Samui is ready-made for romantic celebrations.
With the right information to guide you through the planning process, creating a Koh Samui celebration for you and your guests can be simple and stress-free. Let us lend a helping hand and show you the beauty (and benefits) that Koh Samui can bring to your holiday wedding.
Why Koh Samui makes for a memorable Thailand wedding
Thailand’s affordable nature is one of the many reasons travellers flock to this glorious kingdom year-round. Though it does represent island prices, your dollar can really stretch in Samui, particularly when compared with the Australian, European or even Caribbean alternatives. From delicious food and gorgeous venues to island adventures and blissful pampering, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what is included in your Samui wedding package. In fact, you’ll probably be able to boost your level of luxury without breaking the ceremony budget. And you’ll have the creative and practical expertise of one of Samui’s experienced wedding teams in your corner. Winning!
The full island experience
Weddings are memorable as stand-alone events. But they become unforgettable when paired with exciting local experiences — which is why destination weddings are the go-to for many modern couples. As part of a Samui wedding celebration, you and your guests can revel in yoga, Thai massage, snorkelling or scuba diving, paddle boarding, cooking classes, temple hopping and of course, sunset chasing. Memories are made of this.
Beaches for days
Koh Samui is generously freckled with beautiful beaches, many of which are privately owned by resorts throughout the island. Based on which resort you choose and which part of the island you decide on for “I do”, you’ll find a majestic backdrop that truly aligns with your vision.
Guest guide ideas for your Koh Samui celebration
Enjoy a Thai massage at some of the best spas on the island, including A’Lanna Spa or Eranda Spa. See you later, pre-wedding stress.
Visit beautiful Buddhist temples including Wat Phra Yai and Samui Big Buddha for a taste of Thai culture and religion.
Snorkel and explore the lush seascapes at Coral Cove, Silver Beach or Taling Ngam.
Soak up the vibe and make a few new friends at one of Samui’s stellar beach clubs. Try Nikki Beach Samui or Centara Grand Beach Resort for a top-tier dining environment, cocktails that crush the game and coastal views that can’t be beat.
What to know before you go
Silver beach, Crystal Beach beach view at Koh Samui Island Thailand
A Thai island nestled in the Chumphon Archipelago, Koh Samui is undoubtedly sublime. However, it’s not immune to a little precipitation. If you’ve done any research on the region, you’ll be aware of monsoon season, which hits heaviest from September to December. February is probably the best time of the year for sunny ceremonies — you might even score a Valentine’s Day anniversary.
Catch a connection to Samui
Samui is the only island in the archipelago with its own airport, but it’s still modest in size. You and your wedding party may still need to catch a connection from Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani or even Bangkok. And those landing in Surat Thani can always catch the ferry to Samui in less than two hours.
Embrace the rhythm of Thai time
Yes, Thai time is a real thing. The locals are a relaxed bunch, which is something that everyone can learn from. But it’s good to note that while the resorts and hotels will keep your schedule on track, you might need to shift down a gear during some of your island adventures. But what’s the rush? You’re in paradise!
A calm, private bay for ceremonies and incredible accommodation in a lush, natural setting help make this eco retreat a standout. Nestled between Chaweng Beach and Fisherman’s Village, The Tongsai Bay offers luxurious rooms and villas with generous balconies and open-air bathtubs (many even have a private pool!) along with onsite spa cottages designed for couples, two swimming pools and delicious dining options. The hotel caters to Thai and Western weddings and serves up memorable receptions with their Tongsai signature hospitality. Wedding packages allow for customisation, perfect for optional services such as videography, fire shows and hair and makeup.
Enjoying a secluded position on the soft sands of Chaweng Beach, this stylish escape blends modern sophistication with classic Thai style. A wide variety of room options is complemented by two swimming pools, an onsite spa, and mouthwatering cuisine including interactive food stations. Amari is known for their laid-back style of refinement and friendly service. Highly experienced in weddings, their event management skills are above par, as is their level of guest satisfaction. Just ten minutes from the airport, Amari makes it easy to enjoy a destination “I do.”
Want to go really ? Praana Residence by SILK is an obvious choice. Due to its secluded nature and generous size, this escape goes beyond the average luxury villa rental. It feels like you’re getting a whole hotel to yourself! Six bedrooms form part of a gorgeous hilltop complex which includes an onsite spa, private cinema, two swimming pools and one serious sea view. And the dining is to die for, with thoughtfully curated fare that will impress even the most discerning palate.
A welcome bag is the perfect way of, well, welcoming your guests and introducing them to the exotic location where you’ll be saying “I do”. More importantly, it adds a little touch of thoughtfulness and shows appreciation to your loved ones for making the trip. Stumped on what to include? Read on for all of the essential bits and pieces!
Whether you’re a VIP guest, part of the wedding party or a special plus-one, sometimes it can be difficult to decide the appropriate outfit for a beach wedding. Regardless of if you’re keeping it casual or going all-out, remember to choose something respectful of the occasion and wear shoes that won’t get stuck in the sand! Seeking ideas? We’ve curated some of our top picks and tips for what to wear as beach wedding attire…
Flowy materials are a guaranteed must-have for beach weddings – they’re the perfect way to keep you nice and cool without skimping on style. Our opinion? Pants, jumpsuits or long dresses are the way to go to avoid any windy mishaps.
2. Simplicity is key
Keep it simple with one or two effortless pieces. Avoid anything too tight, confusing to do up or difficult to walk in so you can spend the entire day being relaxed and focusing on the amazing couple!
3. Colour palette
A warm colour palette or floral pattern is a perfect combination that often complements the destination.
Top your outfit off using sunglasses, hats and jewellery to your taste! Bonus points for anything that keeps you a little extra sun-safe.
A floor-length traditional white gown not quite your thing? We’ve gathered some inspiration for non-traditional wedding dresses that will suit your individual style and add a little extra flair to a destination wedding day.
Looking to say “I do” in a countryside elopement? On a tropical beach? Or even a chic city ceremony? From Las Vegas to the Big Apple and everywhere in between, the USA offers some of the most incredible backdrops for elopements and destination weddings. We’ve gathered some of our favourites to bring you GDW’s best elopement and destination wedding locations in the USA.
It’s a task that seems to strike fear into any couple planning a wedding (especially for overseas celebrations), but putting together a destination wedding guest list doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Ready to jump into it? We’ve collected some handy tips to help you plan the ultimate hassle-free destination wedding!
Invites already out? Make sure you know destination etiquette and understand who pays for what at a destination wedding!
Venue Location and Capacity
A word of advice? Send your invites out early. Not only will it help your guests work out if they’ll be able to attend your destination wedding, but it’ll determine a head-count – a crucial part of booking a venue. After all, you don’t want to underestimate the number of friends and family attending and have to reorganise things with your reception venue overseas.
Need an example? If your Bali wedding venue can only seat 80 people, then 80 is your rock-solid maximum number of guests. If your pre-list tops that number, you’re either going to have to do some chopping or find another venue. You can’t expect 20 people to go through the expense of making the trip and have to stand in the back, nor do you want to pay extra hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars for too many plates at the reception dinner. We’ll say it again – send your invites out early!
So… should you invite kids to a destination wedding?
Sure, kids are great. But think carefully about whether you want a gathering of little munchkins at your celebration, though, and consider the logistics – sounds ruthless, but it is your wedding. If you’re inviting guests with children, they might want to bring them along for the trip as a way to make the most of their time off work (we don’t blame them). If that’s going to create some hassles for you, though, be upfront and tell them in advance that you’re planning an adults-only celebration.
Looking for a happy medium? Limit children to just immediate family and have a separate space set aside at the reception for a children’s’ party – think kid-friendly food, simply entertainment (like colouring-in and activity books) and maybe a friendly chaperone.
Splitting the costs
Traditionally, each family invites half of the guests. However, depending on who is taking on the bulk of the expenses, you may have to find a different way of dividing the guest-list. Remember, because it’s a destination wedding, your guests may expect you to cover the cost of any extra events that are part of the celebration – for example, brunch, dinner or excursions. This can stretch your wedding budget to the limit pretty quickly, so make sure that it’s clear what’s covered and what isn’t.
If you’re paying for the wedding, a good formula is one third of the list goes to the bride’s family, one third to the groom’s family and one third to the couple’s friends. Complicated family dynamics (like divorce and remarriages) might change things a little, but it’s a good general rule of thumb. If it’s a truly intimate wedding with under 30 guests, formulas go out the window and the couple should decide who makes the list. It’s your special day after all!
In the end…
The guest-list should mostly include your nearest and dearest, but this is especially true when limiting the guest list for a destination wedding. Ask yourselves these questions – would you buy this person dinner just because you wanted to? Would you put their picture into your wedding scrapbook? Having a destination wedding gives you the perfect opportunity to invite only those you would answer ‘yes’ for, and forget any guilt or family pressure.
Received an invitation for a destination wedding? It’s no secret that attending an overseas celebration can, well, come with its expenses (hello accommodation, flights and meals). That being said, it is a wonderful idea to bring along a gift (unless an invitation says otherwise). Don’t know what destination wedding gift or present to bring? No stress – we’ve gathered some hip pocket-friendly ideas that the happy couple will love. Phew!
If you’ve got time before the special day, seek out a bottle of local wine for a thoughtful gift. The happy couple can either toast with it when they return home or raise a glass every year on their anniversary. Our advice? Do a tiny bit of research before you go wine-shopping and get to know the recommended drops from the destination you’re visiting.
2. A dinner voucher for a local restaurant
A dinner voucher for a popular local restaurant is a perfect idea for food-lovers and romantics! Who doesn’t love an intimate dinner somewhere lovely? Make sure, though, to double-check that the couple can easily access the restaurant via local transport or a taxi.
3. Send a gift basket to their hotel room
If you know which resort the couple will be staying at, organise a gift basket to be sent to their room. Pack the basket full of practical and considerate knick-knacks, like sunscreen and a beach towel (if they’re celebrating in a beachy location), a cheeky mini bottle of a local spirit, a handy tote bag and good ‘ol chocolate.
4. An ‘experience’ gift
Whether it’s a cooking class, wine tasting session, an indulgent massage or a romantic sunset cruise, a voucher for some kind of experience will give the couple an extra-special memory from their time away. Not sure what their itinerary involves? Gift them an experience for back home and help keep those loved-up ‘just married’ vibes going.
5. A framed engagement or couple photo
Let’s face it, it’s 2019 and most of our photos stay in the Cloud or on Insta. Printing and framing a photo of the newlyweds from their early-dating or engagement days is a lovely tradition that’ll never get old – simple but oh-so sweet.
We’ve been so excited to see all your super-sweet engagements over the exciting holiday season – congrats to you two! Getting stuck into wedding planning? Doing a cheeky dream-venue search? If you’re looking to say “I do” in a popular, beautiful, tropical or unique spot, look no further!
We’ve found plenty of gorgeous destination wedding locations for your special day – scroll below and prepare to fall in love with…
If you’ve chosen to elope, you’re probably trying to avoid the stress, organisation and price tag that comes with a traditional wedding, right? Although eloping in an overseas destination or somewhere a little closer to home can definitely be easier on the day, it still takes a little research, time and planning to make sure all of the formalities are, you know, legit. Don’t know where to begin? We’ve done the hard work for you and sourced some top tips for eloping overseas and in Australia.
Location, location, location
The first and probably most difficult step is deciding where you want to elope. A quick Google search and the snowy mountains in Whistler, the tropical beaches of Bora Bora and the world are at your fingertips. Our advice? Let things like ideal aesthetic, climate and budget influence your decision.
OVERSEAS: For extra information, exact requirements or safety precautions for your overseas trip, contact the consulate of your destination location in Australia. If you’re in a same-sex couple, look up the LGBTI+ rights and marriage laws for your chosen location on the US government travel website.
With the power of the internet and social media, you can find the perfect celebrant on Instagram, Facebook or Google in a matter of seconds. Alternatively, ask friends, family, other vendors or check at your local registry office for more options. Wanting to get married in a church or chapel? You’ll have to find a religious celebrant or minister to deliver the official ceremony.
OVERSEAS: If you’re getting married overseas your celebrant must have the authority to carry out a legal wedding in that country – you’ll want to triple check this! Overseas countries may also have a range of other conditions for celebrants delivering legal wedding ceremonies in order for them to be considered valid back in Australia.
If you want to skip all the fuss, consider having a symbolic ceremony overseas and a quick, official one back home (even just to sign the paperwork!).
Now here’s where the preparation kicks in. Sure, you can have an easy, breezy elopement ceremony on a New Zealand mountaintop, but no matter where your wedding is, you’ll need to submit a Notice of Intended Marriage to your celebrant no less that one month and no more than 18 months before the big day.
You will also need to provide your celebrant with evidence of identity, date and place of birth and termination of any prior marriages in advance. So, get your papers sorted!
For a marriage to be valid in Australia you’ll need two witnesses (as well as your celebrant) to be present at the ceremony and signing of marriage certificates. If you’re after a super-intimate ceremony, consider skipping the tiny guest list and using photographers or videographers as your witnesses.
5. Sign the marriage certificate
You, your new spouse and the witnesses will need to sign three marriage certificates on the day as proof of marriage and validity back in Australia. Some overseas certificates require all parties to be in the country for a specific amount of time or undertake religious ceremonies while overseas. Double check all of the finer details via the destination’s consulate and through our wedding guides tailored to each country.
Image by Daisy & the Duke Photography
6. File the marriage certificate
If you elope in Australia, your celebrant must file the marriage certificate within 14 days of the ceremony. No slacking off!
OVERSEAS: If you get married overseas, hold onto your marriage certificate as it is the only proof of marriage you’ll have when you arrive back in Australia. You will also need the original copy of this to change your name and other identification purposes. Your overseas elopement will be legal when you arrive back home if it was recognised as valid in the country that you said ‘I do’ in and if it is recognised as legal and valid in Australia.
If all else fails, remember that you can have the best of both worlds. In the end it’s your day and you can always have the magical beach ceremony you’ve always dreamt of and make it legal back home either before or after the big day.