What Should You Know When Attending A Malay Wedding

I am sure that at one stage of your life, you will be experiencing a Malay wedding  (for non-Malay readers). A Malay wedding is an interesting process which reflects the culture and custom of the Muslim community.


Source from TianChad.com

Marion Caunter looking fabulous in her wedding gown!

Adat Merisik

This Adat Merisik is the process of getting to know each other’s family. This is an important stage for arranging marriages. When the young man is ready to settle down with either a girl of his choice of his family, the young man’s family will start searching for information about the young lady. During this stage, the young man’s family will send a representative to visit the young lady’s family. Bear in mind, this is not a proposal, and there may be or may not be any wedding arrangement. It depends on both sides of the family.

In the past, once a suitable match was identified, it was customary for the boy’s family to send a group of representatives  to formally ask for the girl’s hand in marriage. Even though both families already know the answer, the girl’s family would wait for a day or two — sometimes even up to a week — before sending their own rombongan to formally accept the offer.

Adat Bertunang

If both sides of the family agrees, an engagement set will be determined. This engagement custom is usually held at the bride’s home. The adat bertunang is being done as s symbol that the future groom and bride have already been reserved. Calling off the engagement is highly frowned upon in the community.

Akad Nikah

The Akad Nikah custom is where the groom will sign the marriage contract and provide his bride with mas kahwin which is usually a form of dowry in money, gold or any things requested by the young lady’s family.

The dowry is something that a groom is obliged to give to his wife on their wedding day, usually, but not always, in monetary form. Based on this technical definition, this would mean the obligatory maskahwin in Malaysia, which is an amount that every groom must give to his bride, without which the wedding would not be valid. The amount varies from state to state and a detailed list can be found here.



(One of the wedding of the century in Malaysia, Datuk K and Siti Nurhaliza)

In addition to this obligatory maskahwin, in Malaysia, there is the cultural practice of giving wang hantaran. This is a certain amount of money — a gift from the groom to the bride — which is usually fixed by the bride’s family. The amount would depend on many factors — the bride’s educational background or occupation, the social standing of both families (a famous actress, for instance, would get a huge sum), some sentimental reasons between the bride and groom, just to name a few.

Sometimes the bride’s family does not set the amount and just they just leave it to the groom’s family. In certain cases, the bride’s family might even specify the addition of a gold bracelet and/or necklace. It all depends on one’s luck, I suppose.

Trivia: There was a celebrated case of a hantaran of RM444,444.44 from a 50-year old businessman to a part-time model, who got married in 2006. Sadly, the marriage didn’t last. The couple divorced in November 2007.

Bersanding Ceremony


Bersanding is the actual wedding day, where guests will be invited to have a feast with the bride and groom. This can be done the traditional way, where the feast is held at the family’s house or the modern way, in a hotel or restaurant.

The bride and groom would usually be seated together on a bridal couch, known as pelamin. This couch would be the centerpiece of the ceremony. This ceremony would usually take place in the afternoon. The groom would have to go through some formality to pick the bride up over to the groom’s house. The couple will be escorted to the groom’s house in a procession with hadrah (a team of men beating a rhythm on their kompangs which is a traditional Malay music instrument). The music proclaims their marriage to the world.


Source from TianChad.com: The pelamin layout for Marion Caunter’s wedding!

Foremost among the responsibilities of the husband is maintenance and protection, and overall responsibility for the welfare of his wife. This includes feeding, clothing and shelter for the wife and their children — a legally enforceable duty, mind you, which remains even after divorce. Thus, financial responsibility for the family is the husband’s sole responsibility, and the wife has no duty to contribute to family expenses unless she has the means and the wish to do so. In addition, the husband is also expected to give her wife company and marital relations, and to avoid doing anything that would harm her.

[Important Notes: In terms of property, whatever belongs to the bride before the marriage shall remain hers after the marriage, and what was the groom's shall remain his.

If she is working, she has complete freedom to spend or save her salary as she deems fit. In actual practice, however, many Malay wives contribute to the household expenses but more out of necessity rather than obligation.

And since the burden of providing for the family is the husband's responsibility, when it comes to inheritance, sons get a bigger portion than daughters, as the latter's respective husbands are expected to provide for them.]

On the other hand, the responsibility of the wife is to guard, in her husband’s absence, her husband’s honour and property, as well as her loyalty towards him, her modesty and chastity with all other men. Thus, she is not supposed to allow other men to enter their home without her husband’s knowledge and permission. And just as her husband is expected to give her company and marital relations, the same is expected of her.

As I am no expert on the subject, please click here, here and here if you’d like more information regarding the responsibilities of the husband and wife in Islam.

How Much to Give?

As a guest to the wedding, you should give money when attending the bersanding ceremony. The amount is decided by you, and you may give any amount in an envelope or green/red packet. If you would prefer giving gifts or vouchers instead, it is acceptable. Once you have arrived the destination, approach the bride or groom’s family members and introduce yourself before saying hello to the newlyweds.

What to Wear

Unlike the Chinese community, where black is frowned upon and a symbolization of death, the Malay wedding cultures have no such beliefs. Feel free to wear any colour and remember, be conservative. Avoid wearing revealing clothes such as short skirts or pants with plunging necklines. For guys, it would  nice to dress in a smart casual attire.



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