Malay Wedding Traditions: #5 Best Facts To Know

What is the tradition of marriage like in your country?

Gatecrash, or hadang in Malay, is a tradition where the groom is stopped by the bride’s family and friends and demanded to perform a series of tasks, such as dancing or singing, before meeting his bride for the first time. Malay wedding traditions sound like a lot of fun, don’t they?

We’ve got much more fascinating information on the rich cultural heritage of Malay weddings, and we can’t wait to share it with you. In addition, you’ll be motivated to continue learning Malay as a result of hearing this story.


Malay Wedding Traditions: Step-By-Step

The traditional Malay marriage is a colorful and vibrant celebration that combines Malay culture with Islamic marriage rites and can often last for several days, and has distinct ceremonies, which we’ll cover below. These are a combination of various customs and rituals, each with its own significance. Let’s go over all that and more below.


Harking back to a time when Malay marriages were arranged by the parents of the betrothed, merisik is when the family of the potential groom visits the family of the potential wife. Ostensibly, this is to make sure the prospective bride is not already engaged to another man, as getting hitched to another man’s fiancé is frowned upon in Islam.

However, nowadays, the man and the woman tend to know a little more about each other, and merisik is more of an excuse for the members of each family to better get to know one another and have a good gossip about how to go about the next stage of proceedings which is the proposal and engagement ceremony.

Engagement Ceremony

Immediately after, it’ll be followed by the official proposal. The marriage proposal, or meminang, is conducted by an elder male member of the groom’s family. He will pop around to the woman’s house and deliver a formal request for her hand in marriage. Malay etiquette means the potential bride is then expected to take her time (sometimes several weeks) to make her decision.

If she decides to accept, then a date for the engagement ceremony, or bertunang, can be agreed upon. Before deciding on a wedding date, Malays have a tradition in which the groom’s family elders visit the bride-to-be and her family. This is when the couple will exchange gifts, and a senior female representative of the groom’s family will present the bride with an engagement ring. In most cases, the purpose of this meeting is to set a date for the Solemnisation Ceremony as well as the gift or money given on top of the dowry.

Bertunang is also a time for the business of the marriage contract and the amount of cash to be handed over in the duit hantaran, or dowry, to be ironed out. During this time, they will discuss gifts, dowry, and the length of time the couple plans to be engaged before marriage. As the future husband-to-be may or may not be in attendance, the future bride-to-be remains in her room while his family gives away gifts, including a dowry, to her.

Gift And Dowry

Groom offering gifts to the bride’s family is typical in Malay culture. As a sign of the beginning of a husband’s commitment to his wife in providing for her daily needs, gifts presented by the groom to the bride are required. However, marriage can go forward even without it.

Malay Wedding Traditions

Solemnization Ceremony

The most significant part of a marriage’s celebration is the Akad Nikah, or Solemnization Ceremony. Some couples prefer to have this done in the mosque, while others prefer it at the wedding reception. Traditionally, the solemnization ceremony is held at the bride’s house the day before the wedding and is attended by close family members and friends. It can also take place at an Islamic Religious Office or mosque. A kadhi officiates this, an Islamic official since akad nikah involves verses from the Quran.

As a result, the solemnizer will instruct the groom on how to treat his future wife and confirm that the bride is happy being married. Then, when the groom is ready, he will lead him through the ceremony of getting married to his bride, asking the witnesses and others in attendance whether they accept his proposal. Finally, the couple will sign a marriage contract.

Bersanding Ceremony

Bersanding is the Malay name given to the wedding reception. It’s a way to tell family and friends about the marriage. During this time, the bride sits on a pelamin which is a lavishly decorated couch, and hides her face behind a fan. The groom is required to undergo a few light-hearted tasks set by the bride’s family before he is finally permitted to join her.

This ceremony is accompanied by traditional music, flower petals, palm blossoms, and dance performances, and the bride and groom are usually dressed in traditional Malay attire. Guests, friends, and relatives will take the opportunity to offer blessings and sprinkle the pair with flower petals and yellow rice as a symbol of fertility.

The Groom Makes His Way To The Bride’s House.

The kompang, a drum-beating parade, will accompany him to reunite with his wife. Palm blossoms crafted of tinsel on bamboo poles, which represent health and wealth, will also be carried by his friends and family.

The Gatecrash

Before seeing his wife for the first time, the groom must pass a series of exercises, such as dancing or singing, as part of the Malay tradition of hadang, meaning gatecrashing.

The pelamin is the sofa placed at the center of the bersanding ceremony, where the bride awaits. She will greet the groom after he completes the hadang. As they have their first meal together as husband and wife, the couples are treated like royalty for the rest of the day. Guests are welcome to come up to the happily married couple and give their blessings or take pictures with them. 

Malay Wedding Traditions

Tepung Tawar Ceremony

Rice flour, white rice, yellow rice, and rose water are sprinkled on the hands of the couple during the Tepung Tawar ceremony, which originates in Hindu culture. The ceremony is intended to bless the couple’s gifts and prayers and keep them safe and secure. However, the practice of this ceremony is becoming less popular among Malay people.

Majlis Bertandang

Traditionally, the first wedding reception is held at the bride’s home. A second reception, majlis bertandang, may be held at the home of the groom a few days later. However, these days, a community hall or hotel may be chosen as the venue for the wedding reception as it saves on the washing up. In Malay culture, it is usual to have a buffet-style wedding feast at the wedding ceremony called the nasi minyak. The wedding food may be served as a band plays or guests sing karaoke.

At a Malay wedding, before the guests leave, they are expected to hand over an envelope containing cash to the happy couple. In return, guests are gifted a bunga telur – a hard-boiled egg on a bed of white rice in a flower-shaped cup. This gift represents fertility. If they are especially lucky, they might get a goodie bag too.

What Is The Malay Version Of The Hen’s Night?

Yes, and it’s called Malam Berinai, or henna night. When it comes to the pre-wedding festivities, the bride and her bridesmaids gather together for a night out. In contrast, in Malay culture, people get together for an exclusive henna party when they get their hands and feet henna painted. The night may be easy for some families, but for others, it’s a huge event that includes singing, dancing, and a lot of food.

Malay Wedding Traditions Vocabulary

The traditional Malay marriage remains popular across Malaysia as well as with the Malay community in Indonesia, Singapore, and Brunei. Today, however, arranged marriage is no longer the norm, a shorter ceremony might be preferred to keep the costs down, and a wedding planner might be brought in to take the pressure off the families.

Got invited to join a Malay wedding? Here are some of the words that may help you connect with the locals.

Malay (Melayu)English Definition
Malam BerinaiHenna night
Adat BertunangEngagement ceremony
Mas KahwinGift / Dowry
Akad NikahSolemnization Ceremony
BersandingWedding ceremony/Wedding reception
KompangGroom’s parade
PelaminThe wedding sofa serves as the center of the ceremony.
Tepung TawarBlessing ceremony
Baju MelayuTraditional Malay attire



Apart from the stunningly beautiful traditional Malay attire (or Baju Melayu in the Malay language), Malay wedding traditions have much more exciting experiences we can enjoy. As you’ve read, in Malay society, it is the husband’s responsibility to make sure his wife is happy and well. That’s how the ritual plays out, with the gatecrashing and the gifts and dowry the groom brings to the bride’s house. If you’re interested in learning more about Malay culture and the language, we hope you’ll continue to do so.

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