25 Wedding Etiquette in Indonesia – Characteristics

Wedding is surely one of the highly sacred events in the world. In the wedding, there is always one ceremony where two persons vow to each other, to live together for every moments, being happy and sad, until the death pull them apart. This main occasion happens in every wedding in the world, different ways of the vow based on the religions. Muslims, for instance, use Headman (Penghulu), The Guardian of the Bride (usually the father of the bride) and Witnesses to make the ceremony become legal. The ceremony is called “Akad Nikah” and it can be held in a Mosque, a Hall or any other places that is safe and sound. On the other hand, Christians need a Father from Church to bind the bride and the groom, right after the father of the bride gives the bride to the groom. The procession of Christian’s wedding covenant usually requires an aisle, and it is kind of the tradition that the bride wears a white wedding dress. For other religions, the main ceremony (covenant) are also different to each other.

Indonesia is one of the countries in the world which the citizens have many different religions. In addition, Indonesia also has countless numbers of cultures. So, there are many Marriage culture in Indonesia, as well as its wedding etiquette. Both the etiquettes that need to be implemented by the bride and the groom and also the etiquettes that are needed for the invited guests in the wedding ceremonial or reception.

On the other hand, Indonesian Marriage Traditions has many differences between provinces. Like between Javanese Wedding Culture and Sundanese Wedding Traditions have different occasion

Wedding Etiquette for the Bride and the Groom

Wedding ettiquette in Indonesia has divided into two types, the first one that we explain is wedding etiquette for both bride and groom, as follows:

  1. There are two occasions (The Covenant and The Reception) of the wedding that apply both the cultures from the bride and the groom

In Indonesia, the covenant and the reception of the wedding is mostly done on the same day, but there are also some ceremonies that both the occasions held by two or three days interlude, or perhaps in a different month. The unique thing from Indonesia’s wedding is that, because Indonesia has many diversities in cultures, sometimes the bride and the groom have different tribe.

Therefore, the wedding ceremonies will be held in both of the tribe’s customs (and costumes). It can be one way or another, whether the covenant held in the groom’s tribe manner and the reception held in the bride’s tribe manner, or vice versa. For example, the groom’s tribe is Java and the bride’s tribe is Padang (Minangkabau). So, the covenant is held in Java’s custom and the reception of the wedding is held in Minangkabau’s custom. Another example is the bride comes from Minangkabau and the groom is a korean. So, their wedding was held in both of the customs (and costumes).

2. The wedding becomes legal only if the groom is 19 years old or older and the bride is 16 years old or older

Based on the government’s law in Indonesia about wedding, the wedding can be held legally if only the bride and the groom has reach minimum age of marriage in Indonesia, which is 19 years old minimum for the groom and 16 years old minimum for the bride. This statement was almost revised back to 2015, yet the Constitutional Court in Indonesia rejected the revision.

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3. The proposal and engagement of the wedding in Indonesia mostly have to be sacred, follows the tribe’s manner and witnessed by close family

The western citizens mostly do their proposal before wedding in a very romantic place, where there are only the couple, or even make a party for close friends. The engagement also, most of the western citizens do their engagement by no witness or witnessed by close family or close friends. In Indonesia, it has to be another story. The proposal itself needs to be very prepared and use the customs from the family’s tribe. The proposal is a sacred event where each family from the bride and the groom meets formally before the preparation of the wedding.

Even the wedding proposal has some steps in it. Starting from the groom’s family comes into the house of the bride’s family, then the opening of the proposal, and then the groom’s family delivers the intention of the proposal. Next, the groom’s family gives the symbolic things (every tribe in Indonesia has a unique thing to be the symbolist) to the bride’s family. Afterwards, the closing of the proposal be held and the bride’s family also gives other symbolic things to the groom’s family. Sometimes, there is also a ceremony in the wedding proposal of Indonesia.

4. The wedding costumes, reception hall, ceremonies, catering and make up were prepared not only by the bride and the groom, but also by the parents of both

In Indonesia, all the preparations of the wedding are divided to the parents from the bride, the bride herself, the parents from the groom and the groom himself. This is different from other countries (especially western countries), which usually the preparations of the wedding are only done by the bride and the groom. It is because the preparations of the wedding in Indonesia are more complicated and substantial.

5. The invited guests in the wedding reception usually include many acquaintances both from the bride and the groom, not only close family and friends

In Indonesia, the invited guests in wedding reception are usually not only the big families and friends, but also acquaintances from organization, work environment, neighbors and others. The wedding reception is usually held in a hall which can accommodate more than 200 people.

Wedding Etiquette for the Invited Guests

Beside the etiquette for Bride and Groom, there are also some etiquette which must obeyed by invited guests, as follows:

  1. If the invitation card is given to the guests by hardcopy, then the invitation card needs to be brought into the wedding reception hall and shown before entering the hall.
  2. The invited guests need to reply the R.S.V.P (if there is any) as soon as possible.
  3. Either a gift or some money in envelope is given to the bride and the groom for courtesy (and symbolic of prayer), yet the amount depends of the guest’s circumstances. The gift is also not too big so that can be brought into the hall.
  4. Guests dress appropriately and conveniently, not wearing dressing gown or shorts. Majority wears the traditional clothes from Indonesia such as Javanese blouse or Batik.
  5. The invited guests must come to the wedding ceremonial on time, otherwise they wait outside until the ceremony is done.
  6. If the inviter (either bride or groom) is not a close friend or family, the guest can only bring one person along to the reception wedding, otherwise the guest are allowed to bring your wife/husband and children. Actually from the invitation card it can be identified. If it is written as the guest name and family, then the childrenf are allowed to come. Otherwise, it means only the guest and perhaps another one person.
  7. If the guest want to post about the wedding, the permission must be given from both the bride and the groom because there is a possibility that either one of them or both do not want their wedding be posted in social media.
  8. Shake hands with the bride, the groom and their parents is a must for the invited guests, not only for courtesy but also direct congratulatory to the bride and groom.
  9. The invited guests need to eat the foods sufficiently, not too much. The bride and the groom actually have to be prepared for the extra guests, but if many people think that they can eat as much as possible, then there will be nothing to eat for others.
  10. The invited guests need to queue up in an orderly manner.
  11. The guests are not allowed to make any kind of noises. The wedding must to be all about the bride and groom.
  12. The invited guests need to check the exact ballroom in the reception hall, because it is common that in a reception hall, there are more than one ballroom that is currently used for wedding.
  13. The invited guests are not allowed to bring the food home at any conditions, after eat the food in the ballroom, can collect the plates and glasses under the chairs or in some knownable dish areas.
  14. The invited guests need to write in the book of guests before entering the ballroom.
  15. The guests do not need to ask permission to the bride and the groom before go home.
  16. In Indonesia, there is almost no after-party after the wedding covenant/ceremony and reception. So, usually it takes some hours only until the reception wedding is done.
  17. If the invited guest are also invited as a performer, then it is a must to be prepared at least couple hours before the main reception event.
  18. The photos taking event be held usually in the end of the wedding reception. So, the invited guests need to prepare to hear any announcement to take a photo based on the organization, work environment, school alumnus or others.
  19. The invited guests are not allowed to take too many photos in the wedding hall, especially the ones using camera blitz.
  20. The invited guests are allowed to sit on the available chairs, if there is no chair left, the invited guests can stand among other guests.

Finally, those are complete explanation about the wedding etiquette in Indonesia which commonly obeyed by Indonesian People, whether they are the one who held the wedding ceremony, or only being invited guests to wish them a good marriage.