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A couple but no weddings: the pretty setting at Phuket's Kata Noi beach

Wedding Ban Hits Phuket Beaches

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
PHUKET: Plaintive cries from unhappy couples are being heard now it has been revealed that weddings are banned from taking place on Phuket's beaches.

Yes, it seems, even weddings are viewed as commercial transactions (''Sure are,'' hardened cynics might say). As money has to change hands, tying the knot on Phuket beaches is no longer officially approved.

If the bride and the groom wish to hop on a jet-ski or marry while paragliding, however, those commercial activities still take place at six or more of Phuket's beaches.

But actually tying the knot on the Phuket sands in front of blissed-out guests? Apparently not.

Sombut Athiset, owner of the Katathani Phuket beach Resort, on the shores of Kata Noi, said today he was rejecting couples' pleas to be married on the beach because he no longer felt it was legitimate.

''We have told customers and agencies that commercial activities are now banned. It wouldn't be right if weddings were allowed to go ahead while all other activities are not permitted.''

One groom-to-be from Melbourne in Australia contacted Phuketwan to say: ''We have just been informed that our wedding at Katathani next month is no longer allowed to be held on the beach due to the junta enforcement.

''This could cause a lot of couples to reconsider their Thai nuptials. I thought with media coverage, a wedding being compared to the 'sunlounge mafia' is surely newsworthy.''

Later, the man, who prefers not to be named, added: ''We are absolutely shattered as the wedding is next month and has been paid for and guests have booked.

''My fiancee and I have just been contacted by the resort, informing us that we cannot hold our wedding on the beach.

''They say that due to the clean-up of the illegal beach vendors that they are not allowed to set up weddings on the beach by the military junta.

''I believe this could have a massive impact on Thai tourism as beach weddings are a huge drawcard to the island.

''I wish no hard feelings against the resort or the staff as they have been nothing but helpful. The resort has offered a garden location in the resort, which is beautiful, but not what we wanted.

''I would love to provide the wedding of our dreams on the beach.

''My belief was that the beach clean-ups were intended to rid the seediness and standover tactics of some beach vendors, not to stop couples who wish to get married on the beautiful beaches of Thailand.''

Pre-wedding photos on Phuket beaches are just fine. One of the delights of visiting Phuket's beaches is to find by chance couples being photographed before their big day.

But laying out chairs, setting up a wedding alcove and having a marriage ceremony performed? Not at Kata Noi beach, and probably other beaches.

The ''Happiness to the People'' campaign of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took charge of Thailand on May 22, appears to be bringing some unhappiness, at least to one man who wants to make his bride extremely happy.

Hundreds of weddings have been performed on Phuket's beaches. We've almost joined in and looked on as tourists in bikinis and swim trunks have ''oohed and aahed'' at the happy couple.

Couples come to Phuket for beach weddings because restrictions in other countries make marriage on the sand impossible.

But as usual, life may be a little different in Patong.

The mayor of the the Phuket west coast tourist hub, Chalermlak Kebsub, said today that strictly speaking, all commercial activities were banned from the sand.

However, Patong Municipal Council could be sympathetic to a request, she said, provided the hitching took place within a reasonable time frame and all traces of the wedding were removed immediately afterwards.

Perhaps a wedding on jet-skis is not such a bad idea.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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'Perhaps a wedding on jet-skis is not such a bad idea'

Sure - if a last minute change of heart they can simply disappear over the horizon.

Damnable if the best man drops the ring though.

Posted by Logic on September 23, 2014 08:21

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As regards the couple who are so disappointed not to have a beach wedding at Katathani I see absolutely no problem: On the numerous occasions I have stayed there I have witnessed many beach garden weddings just inside the resort so what on earth is the hangup?

Posted by Sam Wilko on September 23, 2014 08:58

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Oh Hoorah - Couples are in tears becuase they cannot marry on the beach? Those poor unfortunante brides - Please. No more commercial transactions on the beach, I hope this rule sticks to weddings as they do to other comforts that no longer are avail for tourists on the beach. Get married elsewhere.

Posted by Asquith on September 23, 2014 09:38

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Re: "..and all traces of the wedding were removed immediately afterwards."

Oh, if only that were the case.

Put a lot of lawyers out of work too.

Win/win.

Posted by Mark Thalang on September 23, 2014 09:40

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Many years ago I was at picnic on the beach. We were shooed away early in the day from one section and told we could not sit there as a wedding reception had to be set up. Not having much of a choice, we relocated to a busier part of the beach. When we wanted to walk along the surf past the reception area, we were told we could not pass, because they were taking pictures. That went on for at least an hour. The weddings and other receptions run the range from respectable and low key events where only the wedding vows are exchanged and access to the public land is not prevented, to ostentatious events with large sound arrays, large numbers of tables and chairs, sometimes a tent and the monopolizing of a section of a beach. Once again, the greedy few have ruined it for those who have some common sense and don't take advantage of things. It will be very interesting this year, if some of the hotels that are adjacent to Patong beach will be prevented from seizing control of a portion of the beach for their Christmas & New Year's events that they charge guests 2000-3000 baht to attend.

Posted by Ryan on September 23, 2014 10:17

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Theres hundreds of beach weddings in phuket each year. Each one can have anything from 5 to 100 guests or more. Can phuket really afford to lose these large numbers of people who come?

Posted by R.G. on September 23, 2014 10:23

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Cry me a river. Of course you can get married on the beach. The couple stands facing the crowd, the celebrant officiates as they exchange vows, and everyone moves off the beach to a lovely reception on the hotel grounds. What is clearly no longer allowed is taking over the beach with tents, tables, chairs, food and beverage set-ups, etc.

Just as it would not be allowed on Australian beaches.

Posted by matt on September 23, 2014 10:38

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They are really are trying to stop everything that was special in Phuket happening. The effect won't be felt until next year but by then it will be too late. Welcome to military rule!!.

Posted by Craig on September 23, 2014 10:47

Editor Comment:

The effect won't be felt until next year? Really?

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Yesterday on PW the foreign guides being hunted down now the foreigners getting married are stopped, tomorrow figures might come out showing tourists arrival numbers are down. Hmmmmm.

Posted by Feisty Farang on September 23, 2014 11:29

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Can you say Rich world problem? "It's not what we wanted, buhuu" Well, I guess you can't have everything, all the time.
I have a very hard time believing Phuket will suffer enormously because people can't take over parts of the beach with tents, PA systems, chairs and tables. You can still walk down on the beach and have short ceremony with all the guests before going back up to the hotel garden for food, music or whatever

Posted by christian on September 23, 2014 15:01

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I agree that weddings should not take place on beaches. After all, a man should have one place of refuge without being reminded of his costly contractural obligation made during a period of high testosterone.

Posted by Manowar on September 23, 2014 16:16

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I don't understand why not leave some beaches like Patong open for Business, but Close others. From one extreme to antother.

Posted by Domi on September 23, 2014 17:34

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Great !! Can we look forward to a ban on those neglected/abused horses working the beaches from Hua Hin to Krabi?

Posted by The War Horse on September 23, 2014 19:03

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"I believe this could have a massive impact on Thai tourism as beach weddings are a huge drawcard to the island."

Ha, ha! I believe this will have practically zero effect.

"Huge drawcard"? Absolute rubbish.

Posted by Smithy on September 23, 2014 20:09

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I can understand where he is coming from. A couple spends 2 years arranging a wedding on the beach in Thailand, promises are made to them that this can happen and all arrangement and thousands of dollars in deposits etc paid. Family and friend invited and advised that it is a beach wedding. Guests all spend money on hotels, airfares and all that goes with it including suitable clothing for a beach wedding. The wedding is in a month and considering the amount of time and effort planning etc I can see that this would seem very unfair. I hope that the gardens there are free and not already busy with another wedding so that this can go ahead and have some sort of satisfactory outcome.The problem is not with the fact that commercial enterprise has been stopped but that whoever is hosting and arranging the event in Thailand has decided to leave it to now to advise the couple when all invitations etc of location and proceedings have been sent and accepted by guests. The affects of tourism in Thailand may be affected as 50 - 100 guests that have been let down will tell at least 20 others each of the happy couple being let down at last minute and they tell others and so it goes. I just wish them all the best and hope they put the blame where it belongs not on the whole of Thailand.

Posted by Anne on September 24, 2014 04:07

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Its good enough to have a picture taken of the bride and groom at the beach - the marriage should be consummated elsewhere. That's too much information.

Posted by farang888 on September 26, 2014 21:24

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I hear their plight but I guess the juncta must be seen to be fair and not only targeting locals, I guess in time a fine line will be drawn and all allowed and dissallowed activities will be made clear. Ed could you please do an article on the Russian Ruble and how it is and will affect Russian tourists and Phuket.

Posted by Gregg P Cornell on December 17, 2014 13:31

Editor Comment:

The rouble is rubble. Whether Putin can resurrect the Russian economy is debatable.

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I fully support the ban on commercial transactions. There is not enough beach to go around. Too many people. I fly here from San francisco to find one tiny slice of sand. There has to be a cutback of activities on the sand so we can have a basic minimum enjoyment. Also as a Buddhist let's protect the beach AND the water - no more jet skis!! Dangerous loud and infantile.

Posted by Sosfjulie on January 5, 2015 07:57


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