I wrote a little while ago about attending the Chinese/Christian wedding of one of my Husband’s colleagues here in Miri. Malay weddings are very different.
At the start of the year I got a ‘What’s App’ message from a school friend to tell me that she was getting married at the end of January and asking if the family and I could make it over for the celebrations. One of the perks of having been to a boarding school is that I now have friends around the world and there is almost always someone (or their family) to visit. My friend lives in Sarawak (in Kapit in the interior) but her family and new husband are from KL so the wedding was going to take place there. Because we were not certain the girls’ passports would be back (they arrive the day before I flew) I booked to travel over on my own, arranging to stay at a nearby hotel and get taxis to and from the venue. I must admit to being a little apprehensive as other than the bride I thought I would know nobody. As it turns out some other girls from school were also there on the day so we had a mini reunion.
Muslim weddings are legal in Malaysia in the same way that a wedding performed in a church is legal in the UK, guests other than close family are typically not invited to attend the actual nikkah ceremony which in my friend’s case took place the day before.
|Seating is informal and guest lists are huge. Pretty much|
everyone who knows the couple turns up.
The wedding reception is typically spread out over a number of hours and the bride and groom are not necessarily present during the entirety of the time. It is normal for families to hire a large venue and arrange for catering on an industrial scale. On arrival guests are greeted by family members and then directed to the main room. The food is set out along the sides of the room and guests help themselves to whatever they want before sitting down at a table of their choice. I was a little concerned about this because when I arrived there was no one there that I knew but I was invited to a table and ended up talking with some neighbours of the bride’s mother before catching up with school friends.
The wedding party was seated at a top table and family groups would go up from time to time to congratulate the happy couple and have photographs taken. There was some entertainment, a women’s percussion band alternating with a male religious choral group, children’s entertainment outside included bubble displays. The whole atmosphere was extremely friendly and informal, an opportunity for everyone to wish the families good luck on their new venture. Guests were dressed fairly informally but conservatively, about one degree of formality above normal, certainly much less so than a typical European or American wedding but it was clear that people had made an effort. The bride and groom and their families were, of course, dressed sumptuously.
Guests are not expected (and do not expect) to stay for very long, enough time to eat and then congratulate the bride and groom or their families. Before leaving it is traditional to hand over an angpow with a small monetary gift to an auntie and to receive a small wedding favour as a memento of the day.
Posted as part of 'My Expat Family' monthly linky hosted by the wonderful Seychelles Mama