Choosing a great destination wedding venue is not always easy to do, there are many elements to consider. Often, you will not only be thinking of you and your partner’s likes, but your guests experience as well. Choosing the right location for an over-seas wedding can feel daunting and overwhelming if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for.
Table of Contents:
- The right approach to looking for a venue on Koh Samui
- To Use or Not to Use a Samui-Based Wedding Planner
- Create a realistic list of your guests
- Wedding Budget
- Think about your guests accommodation
- Pay attention to what is included in venue packages
- Choose your style
- Tides do matter
- Decide your date
- Don’t book the first venue you find
- Make a personal inspection of several venues
- Types of venues
- Weddings on a Secluded Beach
- Weddings at a Small Resort with Restaurant on the Beach
- Private villa on the beach or in the mountains
- Large hotel on public beaches (Chaweng-Bophut-Lamai)
- A hotel in a small cove or with a privately-accessed beach
- Unique idea: Boat
- Unique idea: Underwater [MUST be Certified Divers]
- Useful tips for choosing wedding venue
- About the Authors
In this article you will find a few of tropical wedding venues around Koh Samui. There are literally hundreds of choices; from resorts and hotels to private luxury villas to secluded beach bars/restaurants, sailboats and even underwater (if you are a certified diver)! Each place has its own pros and cons and you could spend months looking at each one, but that isn’t realistic for most couples. If you start with your dreams and write them down, your wedding vision will become clearer.
We have been actively organizing weddings for more than 11 years and taking photos for six years on Koh Samui and have experienced all the advantages and disadvantages of each of them. We will share what types of locations there are, give a brief description, our personal thoughts and what budgets would be appropriate.
The right approach to looking for a venue
There are many considerations by which you can choose your Samui wedding venue; location, ease of access, accommodations, food and drinks, sunsets, etc. In addition, there are a number of things that need to be confirmed before choosing – which are often not included in the “packages” offered by hotels and other venues; music cut-off times, DJ or Live Band permitted, bar closure, after hours, fireworks allowed, etc. It is important to figure out what you should be thinking of in advance, then set out to find what venues fit your realistic needs.
To Use or Not to Use a Samui-Based Wedding Planner
Before you start to look at too many photos and searching all over the Internet, we recommend that you contact a professional Samui-based wedding planner and share with them your vision of your ideal location and needs. They will be able to ask you the right questions and can suggest the most optimal options to fit your vision. After that, there is almost always an opportunity to bring any location in line with your desires, but at what price? A wedding organizer can help you with this. Some resorts offer a ‘wedding planner’.
Create a realistic list of your guests
Weddings on Koh Samui can range from “couples-only” to more than 200+ guests – sometimes even larger. The number of guests you expect to be at your wedding is important to know before you can really secure the right venue. If you choose a place that is too small for your all your actual attending guests, you may find yourself in a difficult situation; the expense of a large venue with a small number of guests can consume your budget, not to mention your guests can feel tiny in big areas and the “maximum” number of guests can feel a bit small with some venues. So consider the realistic number of people you expect to join you – and beware – if you invite 100 people and think only 50 people will come, think again. It is not uncommon for 100% of the invited people to make an effort to attend a wedding here.
No one likes to talk about money but let’s be honest – this is one of the most important aspects of planning any wedding. Being realistic about your budget will make your planning a lot more enjoyable because you are working within your know limits. Thankfully being on Koh Samui can eliminate the requirement for extreme decorations as the beaches, resorts and private villas can usually offer beautiful backdrops of the palm tree lined ocean and that alone is worth a lifetime of unforgettable memories. Of course with the gorgeous Thai flowers, adding an abundance of floral decorations can really enhance any wedding, and it would give anyone who sees your photos something to dream about.
Aside from (but often including) the travel expenses, the costs of a dream wedding on Koh Samui is very realistic for just about anyone.
But as always, there are things you need to consider when choosing a venue that will fit your budget. The ultimate price of a venue is not only the rent of a room or space; places with their own restaurants and bars will require food and drinks be bought from them – and there is often an “Event Fee” charged. This can limit options if you are looking for anything specific.
Therefore, here are two (2) solutions; First, hire a Samui-based wedding planner and give your budget and everything you hope to include to them. Let the wedding planner do what they can for you within your budget and as long as they stay on or under your budget, you happily accept the complete wedding experience with them.
The second solution is to break your budget into categories, first allocating funds to those suppliers that have a higher priority for you. Then go online and look for each of those services individually and contact them. This could end up costing more as it may be possible for a wedding planner to find a little bit of savings across your entire service rather than being able to offer you less per service.
Our recommendation, hire a professional wedding planner and let them help you organize a complete package for your realistic budget. If you try to itemize each expense, you could lose out on the normal extras your wedding planning would likely be giving you.
Some couples do organize their weddings on their own here, so the choice is yours.
Think about your guests accommodation
When arranging an over-seas wedding, you should remember that guests need to sleep somewhere, too. Will you be paying for everyone or will you let them choose on their own? Are there any options to stay in the same place where the ceremony takes place, or close-by? Will you need to take care of the transportation of guests to and from the ceremony?
And consider hiring an entire resort for your time on Koh Samui, this could offer an outstanding way of creating a personalized and completely private experience.
Pay attention to what is included in venue packages
As a personal preference, we like to “under-promise and over-deliver” for our couples, but not every place shares this philosophy. Some locations do provide everything you need, others provide only the space and you will have to add decorations and equipment and just about everything else.
Also, you need to consider that if the location does not provide the level (or style/requirement) of cuisine you need, then the use of personal or specialty vendors could lead to additional fees from the venue.
A very important and often over-looked element of every wedding reception are the cut-off times for music. Each venue has it’s own rules. Is the closing time a sharp close and you cannot extend – or can you lower the music but carry on partying, and even then, until what time? Do you want to continue to party after your venue is scheduled to close?
Choose your style
While Koh Samui is a tropical beach location, you can still choose what style fits your vision; simple, elegant, elaborate and even themed such as seashells or butterflies – even an authentic Thai Buddhist marriage blessing. A search of the internet can reveal thousands of different photos to drawn your inspiration from – but it is necessary to ask yourself what is important to you and to choose the space where your vision can be realized. Remember, although the place could look great with another theme or design, it might look completely different with your idea.
Tides do matter
When selecting a beach venue on Koh Samui, you must take the tides into consideration. Some beaches disappear at High Tide – and some have a beach no matter the water conditions. Most places will have back-up locations for ceremonies based on the tides.
We use the official Thai Tidal Tables to know what tides will be like when we organize a wedding or do a photo shoot. Tide books are released at the beginning of each new year or can be found online.
Decide your date
After determining your ideas, possibilities and necessities, securing your date is crucial to be able to move forward. On Koh Samui, there are some private luxury villas and quiet secluded beaches you will need to book a minimum of one year in advance in order to guarantee you can book your first date of choice. Other venues do not host many weddings and are likely to be available for bookings less than one year out.
Don’t book the first venue you find
Have a look around and read reviews before making that final choice – unless you just “click” with the person you’re communicating with.
Make a personal inspection of several venues
In the ideal case, it would be great if you could come to Koh Samui around 12-18 months in advance of your wedding date and personally inspect several different venues for comparison. The island has too many to realistically check each one, so we recommend working with a planner to narrow down your search – or come with a list to view. If at all possible, come see with your own eyes – it’s always different than even the best photos.
If you are unable to visit Koh Samui to view venues in advance, you can rely on a Samui-based wedding planner’s recommendations or read online reviews of some of the more popular wedding resorts or villas.
Type of venues
First, let’s talk about the types of wedding venues that can host your Big Day; Secluded Beach Bar/Restaurants (no accommodations), Resorts/Hotels, Private Luxury Villas, Boat Charters, Churches, Temples and even Underwater.
We will consider all this from the point of view of the organization of the wedding and the complexity to turn your dreams into reality.
Weddings on a Secluded Beach
This is one of the most romantic locations if you are able to find a secluded beach as many places are populated by tourists enjoying their holiday. In Thailand, all beaches are considered public and owned by the King, so in busy areas, it is unreasonable to ask people to clear the beach for ceremonies, especially since these non-guests are also having their own relaxing holiday and shouldn’t be asked to give that up.
A secluded or non-busy beach will allow your friends and relatives to take home their own amazing memories of your special day with less distractions. When you have going on around you, you will be more in the moment with those present.
As with everything in life, there are pros and cons:
- On the beach
- Private ceremonies with little distractions
- Location could be remote and difficult to get to with guests and equipment
- What facilities are on-site, if any? (Toilets, Electricity, Kitchen, Covered Areas, etc.)
- If nothing on-site, everything must be brought in and the price could rise rapidly.
CONCLUSION: This is the most ideal venue for small, simple, romantic weddings for couples who honestly do not need a lot of decorations.
Weddings at a Small Resort with Restaurant on the Beach
Depending on the venue, this is often a flexible option which can allow for more inclusion of your ideas. Having accommodations, food and drinks on-site can be a nice addition so you and your guests do not have to travel far after the party. Places like this can be found all over Koh Samui, ranging in prices so they can fit almost any budget.
- On the beach
- Relaxing when you know everything is already on-site; kitchen, equipment, staff, restrooms, etc.
- Everyone gets to stay together
- May have on-site wedding coordination with experience
- Often has own wedding packages to choose from
- Often other resort guests around enjoying their holiday
- Possible non-wedding guests at the restaurant and bar
- May not allow outside event/wedding planners to use their own packages
- Cut-off times may be early; 10pm often
- Size may be limited if you are planning a bigger wedding (more than 30 guests)
CONCLUSION: This is a great option when you would like to have a small, intimate wedding with family and friends with no more than 20-30 people that all stay together in one location. We strongly recommend securing all the rooms at any resort as soon as possible to avoid non-wedding guests getting them first.
Private villa on the beach or in the mountains
“PRIVATE” says it all as the main feature of most villas on Koh Samui. Villas start with 2 bedrooms, but the ones in the 4-6 bedroom range offer some of the most luxurious accommodations available anywhere on the island. These incredible 5-Star beachfront and hillside (ocean view) villas offer a closed venue where you can spend quality time with your friends and family. Stunning sunsets, exquisite interior designs and infinity swimming pools will leave lasting memories before and after your Big Day. You can even set your wedding apart when you marry over the swimming pool on an amazing glass stage.
Depending on the size of the villa – or group of villas – weddings from 10 to 250 people can be possible. If you have the budget, there are even some villas where you can hold the entire ceremony in refreshing air-conditioning, while accommodating more than 100 people.
- Generate the most unforgettable memories
- Bring in your own personal wedding planner, if there is not one with villa management company
- High quality location; equivalent to your own private “5-Star” resort
- Personal, on-site villa staff just for you
- If the wedding is small, not a lot of extra equipment needed
- Expensive, often a minimum of 5 days is required when booking + “Event Fees”
- Location can be challenging to reach; taxis and minibuses might refuse transportation
- In most cases, all furniture, equipment (plates, spooks, forks, glasses, napkins, etc.) must all be brought in from the outside
- One of the most expensive options
CONCLUSION: Truly an unforgettable way to get married if you want luxury and are willing to pay for it. A wedding like this will be what fairy-tale dreams are made of.
Large hotel on public beaches (Chaweng-Bophut-Lamai)
Technically, all beaches in Thailand are public, but some are much more public than others. Chaweng Beach and Lamai Beach are known for the most amount of tourists enjoying their holidays. Because of this, no matter how good the hotel is, there will often be a lot of onlookers around any beach ceremony. This is especially true if there are a lot of other non-wedding guests also staying at the hotel who have paid for their own amazing holiday.
We know of several hotels that have their own large flat areas inside the hotel grounds. While holding the ceremony “inside” the hotel property does help protect you from a crowd of onlookers, your trade-off would be to say that the beach is “somewhere near” rather than ‘on the beach’ – not what you would prefer, we understand.
- Larger hotels often have a lot of rooms to accommodate all you guests and more
- Usually have several ceremony venue options to choose from; beach, garden, pool (on glass stage), etc.
- Covered areas are available in case of bad weather
- Potentially a lot of on-lookers
- Prices can range widely depending on the number of guests, the number of rooms secured (and for how long) as well as the luxury level of the hotel
CONCLUSION: This has always been the favorite place for couples who like staying near “all the action” and for large weddings with more than 60+ guests. Late nights are usually until 2am, but there are no guarantees they won’t last later. This is just another thing to consider; would you like to be near the parties and night-life, or would you prefer a more quiet, private venue? More than half the weddings on Koh Samui are in Cheweng and Lamai.
A hotel in a small cove or with a privately-accessed beach
This is one of the most prized venues for weddings and receptions. There are a few 5-Star options on Koh Samui that can accommodate your guests, provide fine dining options and offer a private beach. In most cases, these resorts offer their own wedding packages and at times has an on-site wedding planner along with prices to match.
- Hotels are private
- Has most everything on-site needed for wedding parties
- Prices can be costly
- Packages can be inflexible
CONCLUSION: The ideal place to secure an entire resort – if the idea is to keep the venue and beach private and you have the money.
Unique idea: Boat
This is something special, but requires a little extra thought and planning. Securing a private boat; sail boat or other, is a sure way to keep your wedding private and truly unforgettable.
- Absolutely private
- Limited number of guests
- Only available until sunset when boat must return
CONCLUSION: Great when you are having a small ceremony and you really want to do something unique, yet stay dry.
Unique idea: Underwater
Definitely something few people have done before – and just about as unique as you can get when visiting Koh Samui. Only available to certified divers.
- Unique ceremony, very few people have ever done this
- Can be challenging if you are expecting guests
- Must be a certified recreational diver
CONCLUSION: If you love to scuba dive and you want to start your new life with some depth – there is no better place than under the ocean off the coast of Koh Samui.
Few useful tips for choosing of destination wedding venue:
We are living in the 21st Century so use WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger or some other gadget for video-chatting.
Look at your venue via Google Maps
A lot of businesses are listed on Google Maps so if you check out any possible venues, you might find other places nearby to visit. But keep in mind that what you see from above and what you see looking out over, such as the ocean, can look very different in real life.
Beautiful brochures and wedding websites may not mention one rather important detail: the neighbors. Are you near a nightclub or the airport? Your guests may not appreciate the blasting music until 2 am or the airplanes regularly thundering overhead.
Find out about any renovation plans
Make sure any resort specifies whether the site is knowingly going to make a reconstruction or carry out repairs during your dates. After all, it would be a challenge to find a new wedding venue on short notice.
Don’t miss the sunset
Sunset is the ideal time for a wedding on Koh Samui, but be aware, the sun sets very quickly here. We recommend allowing enough time for you to comfortably have your ceremony and then take numerous photos so you are not caught unaware. The number of guests also plays a big role in what time your ceremony should start as does the time of year; on Koh Samui sunset times vary from 6pm in December to 6:40pm in August
Have you chosen a part of the island for your ceremony?
Do not forget that sunsets are only on the west side of the island, though sometimes you can see them along in the northern and southern part (depending on the bends of the shore) but not usually on the east.
Tell your friends early
You probably already have an idea of who you want to stand beside you in your Bridal Party and who you’d like to gaze upon as a guest. Give plenty of time for all of those you invite to either make plans or politely decline if finances are tight.
Don’t be upset if some of your closest friends or relatives are unable to attend; traveling to Thailand is not always possible, no matter how desirable. While you are likely paying for food and drinks at the reception, their fees for travel, entertainment, hotel, and car rental can really add up. If you are able and you really want them to be there with you, help them make it.
Clarify or discuss different situations with weather
An outdoor ceremony is always more pleasant and beautiful, but the weather is unpredictable, especially when you are on a tropical island and setting a date for later in the year. So, ask about the possibility in case of rain to make a ceremony “backup”, possibly under a hired tent or inside the on-site restaurant.
In the case of a ceremony in warm countries such as Thailand, it is sometimes important to have a room for a wedding reception with air-con. The choice is always yours and you can beautifully arrange any place, but here it is better to discuss this in advance.
Dress the part
Do not forget to consider the warm, tropical climate of Koh Samui when choosing your wedding dress and other wedding attire. You’ll be swimming in the heat if you pair your fairy-tale silk ball gown with the extreme humidity – and asking your groomsmen to wear wool suites in the afternoon sun would simply be considered cruel. Also, if you’re exchanging vows outside, you may want to reconsider a long train that will easily become a nuisance in the wind, get muddy or grass-stained while walking – or get caught in three-inch heels that sink in the sand.
There are many things to think about when choosing your wedding venue on Koh Samui. The most important thing is to make sure you like the venue, it will be a platform where many memories will grow.
Even if you don’t choose to hire us for your wedding on Koh Samui, we hope you find this article useful when planning your wedding here.
Start today and create wedding dreams that will last your lifetime.
About the Authors
Mr. Carter has been living on Koh Samui for more than 17 years, has been an established Samui-based wedding planner for more than 11 years and as a professional Celebrant, Carter (as he is commonly known) has performed more than 1,600+ weddings for couples from all over the world since 2003. He has been completely involved in everything wedding-related on Koh Samui; he organized “Samui, I Do!” – Koh Samui’s only wedding fair, held Samui’s only wedding cake contest and edited and published Samui’s only dedicated wedding and romance magazine; Samui Bride & Honeymoon (www.samuibride.com). He can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]
Dimas Frolov has been a professional photographer since 2007 with experience in both Europe and Asia. He currently lives and takes pictures on Koh Samui – the most beautiful island in Thailand. He specialized in various types of portrait shootings, weddings, engagements, honeymoon and events, family and children’s photo sessions. His style is catching natural moments and you will get the feeling as if you are shooting with an old friend. “It’s really amazing to be a photographer on Koh Samui – it’s like being part of paradise under the coconut trees.” Smiles, hugs, people who are in love, breathtaking views of the sea, stunning villas, amazing hotels and beaches – the best mix to transfer real life to photos and Dimas can help you capture them all. Enjoy with him the process of taking photos and you will get quality photos every time! In addition, you will get happy, bright memories, direct communication with Dimas, useful information about Samui and your time spent will be fun, easy and carefree. He can be reached at him website DimasFrolov.com.