Being a first generation Thai daughter, it was pretty obvious to me at a young age that I would have two weddings: an American ceremony and a Thai ceremony. I also knew this because I figured I’d be marrying a non-Thai guy since there were no Thai men to be found in the very, predominantly white Catholic schools my Buddhist parents sent me to (yes, I know… I’m confused as well). My parents were probably bummed at one point that I wouldn’t be carrying on that bloodline, but I think they gave up shortly after 12 year old me told them I was going to marry either Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, or Superman (Christopher Reeves). And so here I am now… about to marry my own superhero and… spoiler alert!…he is not Thai.
I knew this day was eventually going to come, but I’m still figuring out what it means to be a Thai bride. Honestly, I think Connie was far more excited about it than I was! And so we went on a road trip to Thai town in LA and had our first adventure together wedding dress shopping. Here’s what I learned from my experience:
1. There are sooooo many options and combinations for a traditional dress. It’s like going into Chipotle and fixing your own burrito, but your burrito is too big because you put too many ingredients in it and the guac is ALWAYS extra. What color do you want? What shape do you want? What bling do you want? The possibilities are truly endless!
2. The transformation process begins with a giant bun. I’m not kidding, folks, this thing was practically the size of my noggin and weighs just as much. As you can see it takes about 3 Thai women to carry it and place it upon my head. Apparently, this look would not be complete without it!
3. There Will Be Bling. In fact, there is always bling. In your hair, on your wrists, across your chest… there is no escaping that you will be covered in gold.
4. You need strong eyebrows to balance out your gigantic head of hair. The more cartoonish the better, apparently. The lovely woman painstakingly drew them on me and I can say I’ve never looked more inquisitive? Although it was not my style, I let it happen because she reminded me of my mom and I didn’t want to disappoint her HA! They were described to me as ‘2 angry caterpillars fighting’.
5. Underwear is key…. And by underwear I mean padding. LOTS AND LOTS OF PADDING. The traditional thai dress is very columnar and does not show off your curves so they made me put chicken cutlets on on top of my chicken cutlets AND they put me in a J-Lo sized buttpad. Here is my very first buttpad in action. It was absolutely ridiculous, but I actually didn’t mind all of the grabby hands. Proooobably because I couldn’t feel them. When it came to alterations, I was so overwhelmed and almost got forced into using the damn thing. Connie had to tell them I didn’t want the fake booty and the ladies fought back and said I needed it. It was a butt-off! Connie argued on my behalf over my real butt and triumphantly won. This is why she’s my ride or die!!!
6. You are mostly mummied into everything. I chose a two-piece so both the top and bottom needed to be wrapped around my body. The top is a long rectangular piece that wraps around the chest once, pinned, and then slipped over the shoulder. The skirt has the same idea but is pinned in the front. Again, you are drenched in gold!
7. Your dress can weigh up to 30-40 pounds based on how much crystal and beading you do. This one was extremely heavy because it was covered head to toe in bling. The sash was so long it reminded me of the trains you see on American wedding dresses. 8. And here is the final transformation!
Connie is going to be in the bridal party (obvi), and so we had a fashion show for her as well. It was like a scene out of Clueless… not only because we tried on so many things, but because we were, in fact, clueless! Seriously I could not have done this experience without her. She tackled Facetime with my parents and her own dad so they could be a part of the experience from across the country, she was the paparazzi, she learned how to dress me because I definitely won’t be able to get into this contraption alone, AND she fought for my booty rights. Could not have asked for a better partner in crime.
And after all of this, I feel closer to her, my parents, and my own self understanding. There is something so beautiful about upholding traditions and I feel very proud to be able to carry this on in my own life. This experience reminded me that it is just as important to look forward to where you’re going as well as remembering to honor where you came from. #proudtobeThaiAmerican !!!!!
Can’t wait to share more with you soon,
Soma & Ulte