A Bhutanese wedding is much more than a simple exchange of vows and rings. It includes a number of religious rites performed by Buddhist monks and lamas. This represents the importance of the bond between a husband and wife (or partners). Please note this ceremony is not legally recognized outside of Bhutan.
The actual wedding ceremony and the blessing takes place in the temple at the Druk Choeding Monastery 3 kms from Uma Paro. The monastery was built in 1525 by Ngawang Chhogyel a prince-abbot from Ralung in Tibet. Jampa (Future Buddha) is the main statue along with the Bhutanese protector deity Gyenyen.
The ceremony will run as follows.
Uma staff will dress the couple in fine traditional costume – gho for man and kira for lady
The party enters the inner courtyard of the temple through a gateway protected by paintings of the Guardians of the Four Directions.
Having removed shoes the party enters the shrine room, observed by statues and murals of important figures in Bhutanese Buddhist culture including the Bodhisattvas, Avaloketishwara (the God of Compassion) and, of course, Guru Rinpoche himself.
About 10-15 monks will conduct ceremonial prayers, accompanied by drums and horns and cymbals – the prayers are dedicated to a long, prosperous and happy relationship for the couple.
The couple will make wishes & say prayers whilst exchanging white scarves (kha dhar) – the scarves are held and blessed by the head monk along with symbols of the eight lucky signs throughout the ceremony before the partners exchange the scarves.
The ceremony will last for about 2 hrs, with guests seated on the floor at all times.
A Nendar (offering of money) is then presented to the monks.
All guests and the couple should bring offerings for the temple including butter lamps, incense, small cash notes, fruit – they could buy strings of prayer flags and get them blessed for a loved one before hanging them by a river or on a high point somewhere in the Kingdom or even taking them home as a souvenir.