March 20, 2023

Melaka Weddings, Somthing New..Somthing Old

From many traditional Malay customs, weddings is the most colorful. Traditional weddings integrate customary practice, traditional music, locals song, dance and costumes… all put together to form a traditional marriage. Melaka is famous for its unique old style weddings that include several ceremonies for one weddings.

Now we go through the process:

In the old days, marriage were often arranged by parents. Womens were well kept in the house with little chance to go out hanging around with boys. When men want a wife in those days, they will ask their parents to seek a bride for them. The first thing parent will do is ‘Spying’ on the target house (girl). There will be an espionage by the mother and a formal visit by both father and mother to the bridegroom in waiting house.

The espionage mission by the men mother will be considered a success when mother thinks that the women suits her son (maybe a good cook or hardworking and respect to the old). Modus operandi of the mission just plain simple, maybe just pass by the women house or go to see the women mother and ask few things like borrowing a pot or request some home grown herbs. Ok now the mother interested with the girl and will come again formally with his husband (father) to his son future wife house. Just two of them and not by appointment. This formal visit is to discuss about the marriage with the girls parent and they will bring along a plain gold ring. The ring is call ‘Cincin Risik’ or ‘Investigation / spy ring’. Yeah I know the word sound awkward in English. The ring will be given to the girl parents if both party agreed to get into business. After that they will pick a suitable date for the engagement ceremony.

wed discussion

Men parents will come again and this time with an appointment. Now they are coming with relative and close friends. In today scenarios maybe 5 or 6 cars. Men side come with a present as a tribute to the girls. Men will give odd number of present and the women side will counter the present higher than the men in odd number too. For example men gift 7 and women will gift 9. An engagement ring will be worn to the girl by men mother or closed relative (women). Collective decision will be made from both parties for the Wedding date. The date will be referred to the local headman so it will not overlap with other wedding ceremony within the village or residential areas. Girl parents also will determine the amount of money or dowry must be given to the women on mutual understanding basis.

Gift, Tribute from both Parties
Gift, Tribute from both Parties

Now both parties will wait for the ‘Day of Completion’ or the Wedding Day. A day or two before the wedding are the most busiest. The bride will put on Henna to both hand and leg as the mark of newly wed couples. In the olden days, the henna ceremony itself took place for at least 3 days full. Now the practice is one day before. Girls usually closed relative to the bride will gather up to put on the henna onto the bride and it was a fun time before the girl will be a wife. More about henna ceremony or ‘berinai’ here.

Henna Preparation
henna preparation

Mark of a newly wed, usually last for 3 month.
Inai in hand

Night before the ‘Day of Completion’ or wedding days, a solemnization of the marriage will took place at the girl premise or at the mosque where preferred by the bride family. Solemnization will be conducted by the father or the Religious Head appointed by the government. Usually father will take the opportunity to finished the job, last responsibility to her daughter. The solemnization vow will be like this:

Father : I marry my daughter Rose to you with RM45 (dowry) cash.
Bridegroom : I accept the marriage with your daughter Rose with RM45 cash.

Solemnization Vow
akad nikah

Then the father will ask 3 valid witnesses whether the vow is valid or not. If they are okay with it the couples are now declared husband and wife. Official document will be sign by both couples, father and the witnesses. The document is legal. Dowry are determine by the State government and the amount is very small. There are few state not stating the amount and it’s up to the bride. After akad nikah the bridegroom may put the wedding ring on to his wife and ended with a kisses or two. The happy couples will then change cloth for the wedding celebration.

Put on Wedding Ring

Officially Husband & Wife
wed kiss

After changing cloth, the bridegroom will go out to the next house beside the bride house (Rumah Sebelah) and prepared to walk slowly to the bride house accompanied by family,friends and relative for the wedding ceremony. The ‘Kompang Group’ (traditional Malay small drum played in a group) will also accompanying the bride delegation with men and women carrying bunga manggar (a traditional coconut tree like decoration made from shiny paper cuts) . Its like a parade. Bride will wait for the Bridegroom delegation at her house. When the bridegroom entering the house to meet her bride, there will be an obstacle. Bridegroom must pay a toll first. Usually the bride relative will forbid the bridegroom from entering the house if not paying the tips.

Bridegroom Delegation,accompanied by bunga manggar and kompang

Wedding celebration will be ‘Bersanding’ where the newly wed couple sit on the dais as king and queen for that particular day. As the couples sit on the marriage dais, family, relatives and friends go up to congratulate the couple and offer their blessings by sprinkling rose water and yellow rice over them. Guest to wedding will usually receive a gift in the form of an artfully bag with an egg as a symbol of fertility. The nuptial night is spent at the bride’s house where bedroom is resplendent with new furnishing signifying the new beginning for the newly wed. Guest are invited to view the nuptial bed.

King for 1 day
king of the day

Bless the couple and you will get the gift

Nuptial Bedroom

Spirit of communal togetherness is prevalent in this occasions (gotong royong). Wedding preparation will be done together with the local community. Womens will come 2 or 3 days before at the bride house for herbs and spices preparations. Mens will help to cook on the wedding day and cleaning up the place. Bride father will be the event manager and manage a meeting with the community for what to do list. When others having a wedding at their house it will be vice versa.

Gift to all guest

Communal Togetherness

gotong royong

Now the Malay wedding at Melaka is more contemporary. The clothing are now adding modern touch, using catering services, wedding reception at hotel or banquet hall and modern band / karaoke. As time passed by people are more material and don’t have much time for communal activities. They just buy the ready made package. Wedding planner are a hot business right now.

A Typical Wedding Kompang!


Hi, I'am Asmaliana, I work at Tourism Melaka. I love my state, Melaka, the world heritage city by UNESCO.

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2 thoughts on “Melaka Weddings, Somthing New..Somthing Old

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