eternally yours.jpgPHOTO: ETERNALLY YOURS

Sue Yusoff, Director of Eternally Yours, a wedding planning company, takes us through the three key stages of a wedding. She tells us: “As much as we are in the 21st century, these traditions remain relevant.”

“Majlis Pertunangan” (The Engagement)
The groom’s family seds a spokesman, some relatives and close friends to visit the bride’s family in order to “hantar tanda” or seal the engagement by fulfilling the terms and conditions of marriage given by the bride’s parents. These usually include the amount for the bride’s dowry, an engagement ring, and a proposed wedding date. 

“Akad Nikah” (Solemnisation)
This is presided over by an imam or religious official, and only involves the groom. The bride is not usually present. Instead, she is represented by her father – or a male sibling, unlce or close relative in his absence – and two male witnesses, who gives her hand in marriage, and which the groom vows to accept.

“Bersanding” (Actual Wedding Day)
Held not long after the “Akad Nikah”, this literally means the sitting together of the couple on the bridal couch on an elaborately decorated “pelamin” (dais). The groom’s arrival is announced by a delegation of relatives and friends led by “hadrah” or a kompang band before he takes his place by the bride. After this, the couple returns to his place for another “bersanding”. Both ceremonies are accompanied by feasting and merry-making, which is referred to as the “kenduri”.

julia ricky.jpgTraditional red embroidered shoes to wear with a red kua. PHOTO: Julia & Ricky’s wedding, from Her World Brides Sept – Nov 2013.

The following are decades old, but still widely practised today.

Guo Da Li
This is the traditional Chinese betrothal ceremony and highlights the formal meeting between both families to select an auspicious wedding date. It also symbolises the sincerity of the groom, who comes bearing betrothal gifts, about the marriage and taking care of his bride.

The list of gifts depends on his dialect group. Typical items include a can of pig’s trotter or platter of roast pork, one pair each of dragon and phoenix candles, jewellery for the bride and traditional wedding cakes.

To show their acceptance of the marriage and gratitude for the over-generosity of his family, the bride’s side shares the good fortune by returning a portion of the gifts.

Hair-combing ritual
For this, the couple must find a woman and man of “good fortune” (meaning they should have health, family and wealth) to comb their hair four times the night before their wedding. This is for wealth, good luck, harmony, and healthy offspring.

On the morning of the wedding, the groom and his entourage will make their way to the bride’s house, where he will have to go through several obstacles set by the bridesmaids before he can “collect” her. Among the items he needs to bring with him are her bouquet, a pair of oranges, a hongbao, and a roasted suckling pig.

Tea ceremony
Usually performed at both their family homes, this can also be done at the hotel where the couple are holding their reception. It is held after the solemnisation and before the dinner. The couple must offer sweet tea to their parents first and then their elders, and married relatives. In return, they will receive hongbaos or gifts of gold jewellery.

This article was first published in Her World Brides June – August 2015. Look out for the Indian and Eurasian wedding traditions in part two, coming up soon.