10 Types of Indonesian Wedding Culture – Ceremonies and Customs

Marriage in Indonesia is something sacred and is usually celebrated with specials. Indonesia’s diverse culture also affects certain wedding ceremony type. Well, in Indonesia, there are some unique marriage customs are difficult to find in other places. Indonesia has a variety of unique tradition that is interesting to see, including the marriage culture. In fact, almost all stages of the traditional wedding in a multi-cultural country is unique. In addition to preparing a wedding dress, the bride and groom to be and strain undergo various traditions and customary rituals before before the wedding procession was held.

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General etiquette

Considering how Indonesia is made up of 34 provinces, then keeping up with the country’s wedding etiquette can be too much of a burden. If you’re happen to be attending a friend’s big day in these richly-cultured parts of a country, Then you need to do following etiquette mentioned below.

  • The Invitation: Indonesians sometimes abide by the rule, the more people come then the merrier.  So it is normal to bring friends who were not invited to the wedding, or to come with friends who have been invited.
  • Attire: For most Indonesians weddings, formal, traditional wear is recommended.
  • Gifts: Gifts are not required but Indonesian couples usually accepts cash for the preferred gift.
  • Traditional Ceremonies: There are various ceremonies for each wedding from each provinces in Indonesia. They are mainly the same and only differ in implementations. Some of which will be explained below.

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There are several traditions of Indonesian wedding culture, based on its province. Such as:


Marriage, wedding, indonesian wedding, culture, traditional, indonesian marriageAs Javanese are of main majority in Indonesia, then attending a Javanese wedding ceremony is a good way to find friends and acquaintance as there’ll be many people there.

The matrimony started with a formal gathering between the bride and groom families. They have to decide when to set a date for the wedding, divided tasks of the wedding upon themselves, decided on who should pay for the budget then preparations started. The three-day celebration is started with the showering ceremony, where the bride and groom’s parents shower them with a water filled with flower based ingredients.

This depicted the last time they are bathed by their parents together, and serves as a memory of how they were nurtured. After this ceremony then the bride is dressed and assigned to a secluded room, where she is accompanied by female friends for the night. Meanwhile, the groom will wait outside her home, depicting that he will be a patient loving husband all through their marriage life.

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Day two is when the wedding reception occurs, and when all guests join in the holy matrimony. An official from the religious department will come to attend and legalize the marriage as they sign their wedding documents. After the signing, then the couple performs a series of rituals, including throwing rice at each other to give prosperity. Finally, they ask for the blessings from their parents and relatives.

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Marriage, wedding, indonesian wedding, culture, traditional, indonesian marriageThe Sundanese come from the western part of the Java island. One of the main differences between them and the Javanese is that a majority of them follow strict Sharia practices. The Sundanese also perform the showering although it was not an included traditional Sharia practice. During the wedding ceremony, a scarf is put over the bride’s and groom’s heads, depicting the union of their souls. After the traditional wedding then the couple also receives blessings from their relatives. Then, while under the cover of an umbrella, unmarried guests are showered with coins and flowers. This is followed by a series of activity that are meant to teach the couple how to live harmoniously.

Finally, the couple is fed by their parents, symbolizing the last time they are under their parents’ wings. Then after this there’ll be a reception where guests can congratulate the couples personally.

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Marriage, wedding, indonesian wedding, culture, traditional, indonesian marriageBalinese people are primarily Balinese Hindu, the Balinese have three marriage ceremonies and they are dramatic in a sense.

The first phase is called the ngerorod, or the elopement. The bride is then ‘kidnapped’ from her parents’ house and brought to an arrange spot while she pretend to acts distressed. The bride’s family then will arrange a fake search group who after searching here and there, will not be able to locate the woman. However, the bride and groom will be conducting rituals to the holy gods and begin living as husband and wife.

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Then, in a few short days, both of their families will gather and come to an agreement on a price for the bride. This will be done by customary celebrations, as they are already married in the eyes of the gods.

The second way, mapadik, is more similar to other Indonesian wedding ceremonies. This time, the groom must formally ask for the bride’s hand in the marriage. Once permission is granted, the bride and groom will have wedding prayers at a temple, headed on by a priest, and are legally married in the eyes of the law. After this, the guest can take part in the party of traditional dance, music and food that is held by the groom.

The third ceremony is done for families with no sons of their own, instead of giving away a daughter, the bride’s family receive a son. As the bride and groom are blessed by a priest in a simple marriage ceremony.

See also: Bali Facts Bali Tribes

Chinese Indonesian

Marriage, wedding, indonesian wedding, culture, traditional, indonesian marriageOn the day of the wedding, the bride’s family then invited the groom to her home for a tea gathering. After this private meeting, then everyone is heading towards the church using a decorative looking car for the ceremony. The reception, is usually held on a public scale. There will be dinner and some loud music to accompany the dancing, and the bride and groom will likely be holding hands on stage while guest take turns to say their best wishes to them.

The attire for attending this type of wedding is to use a bow tie for the man and a gown for the woman as it’s similar also to western culture and gifts are then placed on a designated spots.

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Marriage, wedding, indonesian wedding, culture, traditional, indonesian marriageBasically, Customary Marriages of Batak contains sacred values. It is said to be sacred because the understanding of marriage in Batak custom has meaningful sacrifice for the bride women family because she sacrificed to give one’s life a living human that is her daughter to the others that is the groom.

So that the men also have to compensate the expense and dedicate one’s life also that is a slaughtered of an animal (cow or buffalo), which then becomes food (traditional food) in ulaon unjuk / marriage custom. starting with a customary event called “Marsibuha-buhai”.

At that event, the relatives and friends of the groom then came to pick up the bride with a traditional meal which is usually a pig or buffalo. Meanwhile, the family of the bride presents a grain goldfish. Both of these traditional foods is a sign of the beginning of the unification of the two large families in Batak. Once both family breakfast together, the group of the bride and groom will go to the church for the blessing. (Or also called Pamasu-Masuon)

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Marriage, wedding, indonesian wedding, culture, traditional, indonesian marriageIts marked by a series of processions. The event are Preceded by an introductory period through a matchmaker. It is Continued with application, Seclusion and Ceremonial splash of water.  Procession Cantung or combining pieces of cut fur of ply wood with a coin.

Then, there is Henna Night, where the bride redden her toenails and fingernails with henna. The height of Betawi traditional marriage is Akad Nikah.

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The bride wore coverall with lotus and songket sarong scarves. The bride Head decorated with a bun filled with foreign mustard and flowers type of 5 pieces, as well as the ornate pair phoenix. Bride’s forehead marked in red in the form of a crescent moon that signifies she’s still a virgin when she got married.

The groom wore a suit Rebet, sarong plaques, Hem, suit jacket, and skullcap. Coupled with Arab robe dress robe that is used when the reception begins. Robes, clothes robe, shawl that extends from left to right as well as hats mark the significant of the harmony and peace in the household that were about to begin.

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The Marriage ceremony are performed in front of the officials from the religion department. After that there was a series of events:

  1. The groom opened the bride’s veil to make sure the bride is suited for his heart.
  2. The bride kissed the hand of the groom.
  3. The bride and groom were seated side by side in the podium.
  4.  Entertained with local dances
  5.  To give Praying advice to the bride and groom and families on both sides who were happy.

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Indonesian wedding, wedding, wedding culture, Indonesian marriage, marriage cultureCustom wedding procession in Aceh is divided into several stages of which are mandatory for the bride and groom. This are the stages in Aceh custom wedding

1. Applying Stage (Ba Ranup)
Ba Ranup or the stages of applying the marriage proposal in Aceh is set with a custom to send the elder relatives and who are considered proficient in speaking (referred to as theulangke) to meet the family of the woman.

Its to ask about the status of the woman whether she have anyone else for her heart or not.

If there are no one else in her heart and no ties whatsoever with another person then this elders can express the proposal to the woman.

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2. Phase Engagements (Jakba Signs)
If then the marriage proposal is accepted by the women, then the phase is done by a family of the men who would  returned to the house of the parents of the woman to discussed about the marriage as well as to decide on how large the dowry that is wanted by the prospective bride and how many guests will be invited to the wedding reception.

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3. Party Pelaminan

After all stages has passed then only then the wedding event can be held. There are two other traditional wedding procession that Acehnese society has that they is equally important in that new virgin girl is then to be pick customarily by the groom. After the ceremony the bride and the groom seated in front of the religious official to say their vows and then has officially become husband and wife, a subsequent party is then held to provide an opportunity for all guests who wanted to wish congratulation the bride and groom.

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Indonesian wedding, wedding, wedding culture, Indonesian marriage, marriage cultureCustomary marriages in South Kalimantan especially Banjarnese is very unique to watch. There are several stages that the bride and groom must follow for the wedding to takes place.

Stages in marriage proposal is comprised of Basasuluh or finding a mate, batatakun or proposing for the girl, Bapapayuan or meaningful talks about the dowry, Maatar jujuran that is delivering the dowry, then to go in the procession of Bakakawinan or performing the marriage ceremony.

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Several days before the marriage, the bride to be from the tribe of Banjar South Kalimantan will live in seclusion. This procession that is known as Bapingit prohibit the bride to leave the house. Furthermore, after bapingit is finished, then the bride will go into the procession of bapacar. Bapacar is a ceremony to redden and decorate the nails of the bride, using henna which has been finely grind.

After that, the afternoon before the wedding reception then there’s a ceremony of Badudus that is the bathing of the bride and the groom. After this purifying ceremony finishes, then the next phase is the reading of the Koran for the couple until finish.

After Batamat procession is finished, then the bride will be paraded by a large family and nearby residents in the procession. After the parade procession is complete, then the groom and the bride will be the king and queen in the overnight procession that is called Basanding

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Indonesian wedding, wedding, wedding culture, Indonesian marriage, marriage cultureThe wedding ceremony in Bugis is called Mappabotting that have the meaning to take on each other. Marriage is a mutual bond between two people of the opposite sex to establish a familial relationship. The term of marriage in Bugis is also called mabinne that means planting the seed, in that means planting the seeds for the next family.

Before you get married, there are many stages that need to be done for common Bugis people. For the man who has not been betrothed then usually the family will find a spouse that is considered appropriate and suitable.

The first stage in Bugis marriage phase is mammanu’-manu ‘, a kind of investigation activities that are usually carried out in secret by a woman from the men to ascertain whether the girl had been anchored by another man or not. Mammanu’-manu ‘also to recognize the identity of the girl and her parents. If the results of mammanu-manu  shows that the girl is deserving and not binding to another man, then the family man gave the news to the family of the girl that they would come to deliver the proposal.

The process of the proposal in the Bugis is called madduta or lao lettu. In madduta there is usually discussion regarding dui ‘menré (spending money) and Sompa (dowry). If both sides have agreed to the amount of dowry and spending money, then they continued with mappettu or deciding and choosing the wedding day in Bugis that is called tanré esso (determination day).

After both parties agree on the process of madduta and mappettu or making a marriage proposal, then both families parties will deliver the news of this marriage to a close family, community elders, as well as close neighbors or people. Its up what they think will take upon the role for the ceremony of this wedding procession. This process is called mappaisseng or notify.

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The next step in Bugis marriage proposal is inviting the entire family, relatives and friends of the bride and groom. The activity to send written invitation is called mappalettu selleng or sending greetings because at the time of delivery of the invitation then it is accompanied with the phrase “greetings from (the name of the inviter)”. Usually written invitation delivery was carried out about 10 or 1 week before the wedding reception was held.

The eve of the event of the marriage contract/consent is called mappacci night. Mappacci ritual uses doppacci or henna leaves. This implies that the implementation of mappacciis to depict cleanliness of body and sanctity of life, in line with the meaning of paccing (clean, pure) that derived from the word Pacci.

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Indonesian wedding, wedding, wedding culture, Indonesian marriage, marriage cultureMinahasa marriage customs have unique differences with the other culture of marriage customs across Indonesian.

However, unfortunately, during the course of times and because of the circumstances, then most traditions have been abandoned or is only done as a symbol only nowadays. On the other hand, There are some traditions of marriage customs in Minahasa, Such as:

  • Posanan. This procession is called the seclusion. Way back then this posanan procession was done a month before the wedding day arrives then it is now done only the day before the wedding took place.
  • Gagaren night or so-called as a youth night. This tradition is a tradition of showering under a fountain who currently one can’t find any fountain easily there. Because the main problem is the current lack of a fountain infrastructure that can be used.
  • Lumelek. It is a bathing tradition to step on stones that is done in traditional marriage at Minahasa. Lumelek bath is done by mixing nine types of white flowers that have a fragrant smell.
  • Bacoho shower. Bacoho is a custom shower bath that can now be done in two ways that are traditionally done or done only in symbolism sense.
  • Minahasa traditional wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremony can be performed at the home of the groom or the bride’s home in accordance with the area where they come from. Determination of the venue of the wedding turned out to be quite influential during the wedding ceremony. Which is related to the way a wedding event budget rests entirely to those who pay the wedding costs. Such as when the groom perform the ceremony in his house then it his duty to pick up the bride at her home and brought her to the church for the wedding reception.

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As the largest archipelago in the world, our country is very rich in a variety of unique tradition that spread in the regions. Each tradition has its beauty and uniqueness as well as having its own adherents to format set of rules so it can remain stable until now. One of these traditions is the wedding traditions. Marriage is always considered sacred by many people in this world so that it makes the rules in carrying wedding rituals very important piece of heritage