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Amazing Romance Je t'aime in Lanna

The renowned Chiang Mai Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Hotel was the venue for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) campaign initiated in 2008 to develop the French weddings and honeymoon market. Fifteen French couples participated in a lavish Lanna style wedding ceremony with the theme “Amazing Romance Je t’aime in Lanna”.

The TAT and the Mandarin Oriental Dara Dhevi hotel organized the Lanna wedding ceremony for the 15 couples including elephant led procession, Lanna cultural activities, cooking classes, Lanna lifestyle show and wellness and beauty treatments.

Weddings and honeymoons are part of the TAT's global marketing campaign to stress niche market tourism, and France is a market with significant potential. More than 300,000 couples tie the knot in France every year, and then go abroad for a honeymoon. Normally, they choose to travel to the Pacific islands and other islands still under the French administrative mandate, but the TAT Paris office felt romantic couples could be persuaded to try something different.

In February, the TAT Paris office organised a contest in which the romantic couples wrote essays on why they should be selected to marry in Lanna traditional wedding setting in Chiang Mai.

This batch of 15 French couples had a wonderful time in Chiang Mai. Their first day in Chiang Mai started with a visit to Doi Suthep. After a briefing of the entire program followed by a welcome lunch, dress fittings and rehearsal was in order. The honeymoon spa treatments were next.

The following day was the actual wedding ceremony complete with Lanna traditional costumes in the splendor of the elaborate ballroom Mandarin Oriental Dara Dhevi Mandarin Oriental Dara Dhevi. The bridal couples were transported to the ceremony by elephant.

They enjoyed the full ceremony, complete with the lustral water ceremony during which guests will offer their blessings by pouring the lustral jasmine scented water onto the couple's hands.

In the evening, a grand wedding reception was held on the emerald green lawn, with wedding couples arriving at the venue by cozy tuk tuk. The party came alive with all couples appearing on stage for brief interview to state their impressions and wishes for the future. Not surprising, many wished to remain here or return to Chiang Mai to live.

Over the next two days, they enjoyed visits to villages observing the daily culture and participating in a traditional cooking class, taking in leisurely drives and more spa treatments.

Another often said promise from this group "We all had a really nice time and we will go back to encourage our friends and relatives about this experience."

The most senior couple, 61 and 62 years are both professionals who met in Bangkok 15 years ago and returned to marry this year. The husband already sold his house with plans to retire in Chiang Mai by December 2009 even before he knew of the contest.

Another couple was so touched by the meaning of the sacred string to hold in the good spirits they had received from all participants around them during the Lanna wedding ceremony. The bride had happy tears in her eyes as she said how much the ceremony meant to her.

The wife of the third couple interviewed was from Laos and she and her husband both wore Asian styled outfits in beautiful purple color of the tropics at the evening reception.

The evening ended with many "Kome Loy" or floating lanterns set aloft into the heavens carrying wishes of the couples in appreciation of all the happiness experienced on this unforgettable day.

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