Malaysian Wedding Customs

Kellies Castle

My husband and I had the absolute delight to spend a week in Malaysia when we travelled back from Cambodia and went on a wonderful tour led called MM Adventure Travel, who really introduced us to a unique Malaysian experience. We ate the most amazing strawberries at a strawberry farm, visited fabulous tea fields in the Cameron Highlands and were brought to tears on a little boat sailing past thousands of beautiful fireflies. It was an experience we will always treasure, and something we even incorporated into our wedding.

In the same tradition, and as a way to continue to preserve that memory, I thought I would lead another International Wedding Inspiration article but focus on the beautiful traditions and cultures that are upheld by the Malaysian people. With similar traditions to other areas around it, activities utilized in a typical Malaysian wedding ceremony may vary depending on religion as well, but there is a strong meld of cultural traditions involving indigenous, Hindu and Islamic focuses. They generally exist in three separate stages.

Give a monkey a bean

The first stage of a culturally enriched Malaysian wedding takes place before the actual wedding ceremony and is when a series of gifts to mark the engagement are given. This is a separate monetary gift that is given from the male’s family to the female’s family and is different from the dowry, which is an undisclosed amount given to the bride as a gift. Similar in Thai and Singaporean traditions the groom arrives in a procession to collect the bride. It’s a joyeous affair where poems are recitied and the groom and his groomsmen have to overcome humorous obstacles in order to get close to the bride.

On the day of the wedding the couple will be involved in a ritual called the Akad Nikah, which is the actual religious solemnization of the marriage and derived from Islamic religions. The marriage solemnization is done by the girl’s father in prescence of officials and a brief sermen is given who are told their rights and responsibilities as a married couple, specifically from an Islamic perspective. They then sign the marriage certificate like you normally would in a Western ceremony.

Another ceremony is called a Berinai and involves staining the couple’s hands with henna. This ceremony takes place three times; the first being three nights before the wedding and attended only by family members. The second time will be held by close friends and family members, while the third time takes place after the religious ceremony of Akah Nikah.

Kellies Castle

The next stage involved returning to the bride’s house, who will only allow the groom to enter once she has provided him with a prepared betal leaf known as a Sirih Latlat. The whole party is then led in by the woman folk and everyone takes place in a special area of the house for a martial arts display. This display is held as a sign of welcome and pays respect to the bride and groom. They bride and groom then go to a decorated dias where the bersanding ceremony will commence.

In a bersanding ceremony, the bridal couple will be seated on a dais with family members, friends and well wishers sprinkle the couple with yellow rice and scented water as a sign of blessing. Each guest will receive a token of appreciate in the form of a decorated egg that is called a bunga telur. Bersanding ceremonies can be done multiple times throughout the wedding and can take place either at the processional hall after the Akah Nikah, at the bride’s house and at the groom’s house. It’s a lovely ceremony and definetly been known as a highlight to Malay weddings.

So there you have it , some amazing ceremonies that are still upheld in Malaysian cultures today. If you have the opportunity to check out Malaysia, I highly recommend that you do – it’s a beautiful country with so many beautiful stories to tell. If you have your own story, don’t forget to email me at I would love to hear it!

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