Jennifer & Chut's Thai-rish gastronomic family celebration

Sprite wishes and caviar dreams.
Photo by Bethany Vargas with Vargas Visual Media, Inc
The offbeat bride: Jennifer, teacher of various subjects

Her offbeat partner: Chut, Neurologist

Location & date of wedding: Our living room and the fabulous river front golf club of my childhood in Jacksonville, FL — October 24, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Chut and I married secretly two years before our wedding date. His parents are traditional Thai Buddist, and mine are artistic Irish spiritualists. We decided to celebrate both side with two ceremonies: a full-blown Thai celebration at home with a van full of monks from his family's Wat, and a non-religious riverside ceremony accompanied by violin and guitar. Sombutmai_Wedding_0088

My husband's Thai Auntie made my Thai gown (which fit perfectly!) without ever laying an eye on me. All the food for the Thai ceremony was made by our relatives and friends at the family temple (also called a Wat). As my mother is a florist, we got to splurge on silver candlelabras, rented table linens, and fire bright orchids without breaking the bank (it's all in our family business).

We opted for stationary that was on a sale, and skipped the matching thank you cards to opt for store bought ones. We set up a candy bar for favors, and our Thai relatives surprised us by providing Thai jewelry favors for our guests. Sombutmai_Wedding_0003

Since we're both foodies, we put the majority of our budget into an extravagent buffet of southern and Asian foods: shrimp and grits, fried turkey, sushi, pad thai, mom's homemade eggrolls (she and Auntie rolled 500 of them!). No one guessed that our wedding only cost a third of our original budget. Sombutmai_Wedding_0174

Tell us about the ceremony: Our Thai ceremony was all traditional, Buddhist monks included. Perhaps the most heartwrenching part was when the couple present gifts to their parents in order to gain acceptance from their in-laws. Since we are a non-traditional Irish family, the only Irish thing I did for the evening ceremony was make sure firelight was everywhere. We even hung candles in glass vases from the ceiling.

My favorite moment: There were many. In our Thai ceremony, my in-laws draped a flower garland around my neck to symbolize their acceptance of me as their new daughter. I was scared my mom would freak out at the conservative Thai ceremony, but she said she felt peaceful with all the monk chanting. When I walked down the aisle that afternoon, the musicians played "In My Life" by the Beatles, and for the first time, I could hear it without crying. Sombutmai_Wedding_0355

My funniest moment: During the first dance, I meant to take off my veil before the song came on (but in the rush, I forgot). My husband ended up taking care of that for me – he ripped it off when he twirled me. Sombutmai_Wedding_0050

My advice for offbeat brides: Figure out what's important for you symbolically. For us, it was our heritage, so we did our research and incorporated what felt right. Use your connections. You may not think about it, but you may have connections to discounts on reception sites, etc. Use family heirlooms, or soon-to-be heirlooms where possible. It not only saves money, but it adds meaning. Finally, don't take it all too seriously- it's only one day, but it's the day you'll remember.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photography by Bethany Vargas with Vargas Visual Media, Inc
  • American gown: Joli Bridal
  • Other than that, everything was a hand-me down, family owned, or made by Thai relatives.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Really sweet and charming. Congrats to the happy couple. I have Thai relatives too 🙂

  2. Sawatdee Ka,

    You both look wonderful. I hope to have a Thairish wedding myself in the future.

    Khun Jessica

  3. So excited to see a Thai wedding on OBB! You look beautiful in your Thai dress. And kudos on saving money creatively and meaningfully!

    1 agrees
  4. I grew up a block from this club and wow, your pictures are great! The skyline is such a beautiful backdrop and so familiar to me. It is nice to see an "offbeat" wedding at TCC! Much to my mother's chagrin, I won't be getting married in Jacksonville, but I'll be having a second reception at the club in about a year. 🙂 Best wishes to you both and thank you for sharing.

  5. Your gowns are gorgeous! Especially your American gown. Wow! Makes me want to marry a man from a different culture so I can have two gorgeous gowns.

  6. It's awesome to see an Offbeat wedding from Jacksonville, FL!!! It's spooky to see local landmarks!!! 🙂

  7. Your buffet sounds completely amazing. Like I wish I could get a time machine and come crash your wedding amazing.

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