Every time my non-Malay friends are invited to a Malay wedding, they are surprised that you don’t have to give that much in the money packet and they also sometimes have no idea how to give or what the protocol to eat the food there is like.
This is your mini guide to attending Malay weddings.
So, you got invited to a Malay wedding eh? You know the address, date and have replied that you’re coming. What next?
Ok, for Malay wedding there’s no unlucky colours so whatever colours you want to wear, just go for it. Your attire just has to be decent.
The location of the wedding is usually stated in the invite card and it might be at the void deck, a multipurpose hall, community centre, hotel ballrooms etc. Thus, nothing too formal since business casual pretty much works. Whatever you usually wear to a relatively fancy restaurant, wear that.
Arriving at the location
Check the timing in the invite. If you’re going to a typical Malay wedding, there will be a time range stated on the card.
Ok, here’s the thing, Muslims pray 5 times a day and the afternoon sessions are Zuhor (around 1pm+) and Asar (around 4.30pm+).
If you want to go to a timing that won’t be crowded, come to the venue when the reception has just started. The most packed timing will be around 1.30pm or so after Zuhor or that people will want to arrive just a bit before Asar. Of course, the person who invited you might tell you some key timings of what is happening if you want to see the wedding couple arriving and whatnot.
What do you do when you arrive at the location?
Find the entrance! If it’s at the void deck, it is most likely the area with tables of wedding favours (berkat). There you’ll find the parents of the wedding couple or your friend’s parents. I’m gonna assume your friend invited you, so it’s their parents. Say hi to them and introduce yourself to them if they don’t know who you are. Then they’ll “Jemput, jemput makan!” and ask you to eat.
Grab a free table! If it’s a very crowded time, you’ve got to wait a bit or share a table with someone.
If it’s at a hotel or some special ballroom of sorts, you might be given a table number when you introduce yourself to the parents. It might be the kind where your friend has specified which table each guest sits at.
Yes, pretty much eat once you have your own seat. Nowadays it’s buffet style so you just get your plate at the end and fill it up. There’s a variety of dishes you can choose and the ‘default’ dish is briyani with beef rendang or ayam masak merah (chilli chicken) and heck it’s a lot ok?
Just fill your food with savoury dishes first. Grab the desserts LATER. You always go for the second round for desserts like the kueh.
In the meantime, maybe your friend has arrived at the location. What do you do?
You don’t have to do anything! Just enjoy the show. They may have a kompang team drumming away and ok, it’s kinda weird typing the translation of that in English. Silat performances in front of the couple is another typical thing but it depends if they hired them.
My coach trained a silat team for some schools and whatnot and he actually got a full silat performance! Not the usual pose here and pose there and the end type, his was the actual exhibition plus weaponry exhibition style since they were the actual competition team in Singapore. THAT was pretty amazing.
The Wedding Couple Might Not Be There
Ok, here’s the timing thing. If your friend said what time they’d be there, you might want to wait or just arrive at the location around that time.
If not, there’s no guarantees that you’ll see your friend.
And it IS okay.
You don’t have to wait until the wedding couple arrives if it’s hours away. Just come, enjoy your food, say good bye to the parents and leave.
It’s a bonus if you do get to see your friend. Sometimes they’d be from a different location to pick up the girl/guy or that they’ll be going to another wedding reception for the other side of the family.
Oh yes, a note sometimes the groom has his reception at one place and the bride another. Sometimes they combine it!
You’re usually just invited to one side though. You don’t have to follow them or anything.
So eat! I like to have the briyani even if there are alternatives of noodles or pasta or whatever is there.
You can use your hands to eat or use the cutlery there!
If you want to use your hands, there’s usually the washing pot thing on the tables somewhere. It generally looks something like this and comes in many colours or patterns.
This is NOT for drinking.
Just washing hands.
And really, a buffet is a buffet. There was an ice cream machine to one of the weddings I went recently and some have live stations where they make putu piring.
Some others just hire an ice cream man for the day, yes this is a thing.
You can do that and it’s fun since all the kids and pretty much everyone likes ice cream especially in our hot weather.
This one is called Lilly Ice Cream, apparently they do ice creams and satay too for weddings, engagements and birthday parties. (Call Wak Imah: 85124474/ Wak Lus: 85124487).
In the meantime, as you eat or while the wedding couple get their photos taken, there’s live music or a DJ station. This group is called The Hadi Boyz and wow, they really do perform English and Malay songs very well.
There’s going to be songs and dedications and it can get a bit deafening if you sit too close to the speakers.
This is not a wedding cake. Well, others have wedding cakes but this one they got pulut kuning (yellow glutinous rice) and other traditional savoury items instead! I find that pretty cool cause pulut kuning is quite delicious.
FYI, the wedding couple eat at the venue too and they’d have a table to themselves or with their family.
Exiting the venue
Anyway, done with your food? Time to exit. You can put your money in an ang pow if you don’t have generic Malay wedding envelopes. It is ok as long it’s some small packet to put your money.
How much money?
$10-$20 is good. If you’re really good friends you can give $20. If you want to give more then, okaaay. No one is stopping you. (EDIT 9 March 2018: REMEMBER, FROM THE HEART. Though with inflation in the year 2018, we’re giving $20 nowadays but if you can’t afford it, it’s ok. You don’t expect everyone to afford it and it is a blessing than to ‘make money’ to cover for Malay Muslim weddings.)
Just that the norm is just $10 or $20 even if at a fancy venue in a restaurant. You guys can comment below on this if you give more/less.
Ok, who to give the money or how to give the money?
Give the money to the parents of your friend.
If you’re a guy, give to the father, if you’re a girl give to the mother.
If you don’t know, just give to any of them and it’s still okay.
No. Do not give your packet straight like that with one hand. If you want, you can give with two hands if you’re giving the Chinese ang pow way.
It’s just not done giving one hand like that in the above picture.
The usual method. You fold that packet in half and when you salam the aunty/uncle, they’ll take it discreetly while thanking you for coming. That’s it!
Of course after that, you’ll be given a wedding favour (berkat) which could be eggs (like in the above pic, that’s an egg inside the box) or towels or chocolate.
Anything really. Fancy nail clippers were in trend before or keychains.
But yes, that’s it all there is to attending a Malay wedding.
- Wear decently
- Say hi to the parent and grab a table
- Give money to the parent and go home
Ps. The close up of the briyani and kueh tower is by Mahkota Weddings. The one with the couple sitting is Mintea and she had hers at Lagun Sari. The setting in the first picture and the close up of the kueh in the third thumbnail is by some other wedding caterer that I didn’t take the card of.