Warm and lively are two words you can describe Malay weddings in Singapore. Known to host their celebrations under void decks, Malay weddings in Singapore exemplify the kampong spirit, with the venue packed with guests, full of chattering and laughter.
Do check out our page for Wedding videography styles for your wedding.
Different religious weddings present different practices, and Malay weddings also have very distinctive traditions that they follow. As with other cultural weddings, Malay weddings in Singapore have their own set of customs and it can be pretty overwhelming for couples to cover everything for their wedding celebration.
In this article, we cover most aspects of the usual Malay weddings to help our Muslim couples with your wedding preparations. For our non-muslim friends who recently have been invited to a Malay wedding in Singapore, we have compiled a list of things to take note of as a guest.
Compulsory Marriage Procedures for Malay Wedding
Marriage Preparation Course (not compulsory as of 2015)
The Marriage Preparation Course is to prepare the couple for marriage, usually a 2-day course held at an Islamic organisation and mosques. Marriage is a significant milestone for everyone, the inclusion of someone significant into your life and spending the rest of your life with your partner. This drastic change in your life can be pretty intimidating and can throw some people into confusion as to how to live together as husband and wife. Although it is no longer compulsory to attend this course, it is encouraged for couples to attend it as it can help to prepare the couple to be better ready for marriage. Some topics covered in the course include financial planning and relationship behaviours.
Where you can sign up for the course:
Registering Your Marriage
As all couples in Singapore have to register their marriage, it is compulsory for Malay couples to register their marriage at the Registry of Marriage for Muslims. Do make sure to prepare all the necessary documents before you head down to register your marriage.
Pre-Wedding Preparation for Malay Wedding
Hantaran is a Muslim wedding tradition where the bride and groom’s family will exchange gifts to each other. This is similar to the Chinese tradition, Guo Da Li, except that Hantaran is much flexible with the type of gifts offered. Hantaran gifts are placed on trays and the gifts can be anything. From electronics to books to beauty products to perishables, as long as it is presentable. Though there are not many rules to follow for Hantaran, one important thing to follow is that the number of gifts given should be in odd numbers, because old folks believe that odd number brings luck.
As there are no hard and fast rules as to what you should give for your Hantaran, set aside a budget as your guideline when you shop for your Hantaran gifts. If you are low in budget, you can consider basic items while if you are able to set aside a bigger budget, you can opt for more luxurious items such as branded products.
Here are some Hantaran gift ideas that you can consider:
- Handbags / Wallets
- Makeup / Beauty Products
- Prayer Mat
- Cupcakes / Pastries
- Ipad / Tablets
Usually held 2-3 days before the wedding ceremony, the bride and her bridesmaids will have a hens party where they will decorate their hands and feets with henna. More than just a beautiful accessory and fun experience with the entourage, the intricate henna designs on the bride’s body is believed to repel evil spirits and to bring luck and joy to the bride.
Often done by a professional henna artist, the henna paste is stored in a cone package with a small tip at the end, allowing the henna artist to create very detailed and elaborate designs. Once the henna paste hardens and the stain sets in, you will just have to scrape off the hardened paste and. The henna stain is just temporary and will gradually fade away, lasting about one to four weeks.
Depending on how intricate the design is and the area of coverage, a full bridal design can take about 1.5hr to 5hrs. Prior to the henna party, the bride will have to discuss with the henna artist on several things to make sure that you are satisfied with the end result. Such things include the style of design you prefer, how many people will be doing the henna, and the area of coverage.
Tip: keep the henna on your skin as long as possible to ensure the stain sets properly. Best is overnight, if not at least 4hrs.
Here are some professional henna artists in Singapore:
Wedding Solemnisation / Akad Nikah
Wali – usually the bride’s father, or any male in her family such a brother, uncle, etc. Only a male from the bride’s family is allowed to partake in the ceremony.
Saksi – two witnesses for the ceremony
Kadi/ solemnizer – the official solemnizer who will sign the marriage contract for the marriage to be binding in Islamic laws.
The Akad Nikah, also known as the wedding solemnisation, is one of the most important segments of the wedding where the marriage between the couple is formalised in front of witnesses. The solemnisation usually takes place at the ROMM building or even at the wedding reception venue on the morning of the big day itself, it can also be done at the bride or groom’s house one or two days before the wedding reception.
The ceremony can only be officiated by an official Muslim marriage solemniser, a kadi, appointed by the President of Singapore to solemnise Muslim marriages. During the solemnisation, the solemniser will say a few words for the couple and guide the groom to recite some verses from the Quran. The solemniser will then proceed to ask the groom if he agrees to take the bride as his lawful wife and the groom will be asked to read out his oath in the audience of the couple’s family and relatives.
Currently, there are 11 Kadis and 41 Naib Kadis in Singapore. When choosing your Kadi, there are some factors that you should consider. One most important thing you should take note of is whether you are comfortable with how the Kadi delivers his message. If your partner is a convert, you may want to consider booking a Kadi who is fluent in English so that your partner is able to understand what the Kadi is saying. Another thing is to choose a Kadi who lives in the vicinity of your solemnisation venue, so that it is easier for them to travel to the venue.
You can book a Kadi on the ROMM website. Kadis usually do not charge for their services, but it is highly encouraged for the couple to reimburse their Kadis with a small sum of money (at least $100) as an appreciation for their time and to cover their transport fee.
Similar to gatecrashing in Chinese weddings, Hadang is a Malay wedding tradition where the groom and his entourage have to overcome some tasks and obstacles prepared by the bridesmaids in order to fetch the bride. These pranks by the bridesmaids are a way for the groom to prove his love and determination to marry the bride, and helps to create a fun and lively atmosphere for the occasion.
Traditionally, Hadang takes place at the bride’s residential area where the groom has to fetch the bride from her house. Nowadays, some couples choose to have a short Hadang ceremony at the reception venue before the groom can reach the bride at the Pelamin (where the bride is sitting at the throne).
Pelamin / Dais
With every Malay wedding, the moment you step into the venue, the first thing that catches your eyes is this extravagant, beautifully decorated, throne-like platform taking the centre stage. This is called the Pelamin / Dais, where the couple dressed in traditional Malay attire, sit next to each other for the rest of the day. The couple will be treated like royalty on their ‘throne’, and guests will come up to them to offer their blessings and well wishes. During the photo-taking session, guests will come up to the couple to take wedding photos with them.
A Dais usually consist of an elevated platform with a bench long enough for the couple to sit, and patterned drapes as the backdrop. The structure will be decorated with flowers, candles, lamps, and other adornments that make it look grand and lavish.
Silat (Traditional Martial Art Performances)
During the celebration, usually, there are Silat performances which is a traditional martial art incorporated with graceful dance moves. These moves are performed to offer blessings to the couple and a sign of respect to the couple.
A distinct feature of Malay weddings is their loud upbeat drumming of the Kompang, usually to accompany the grand arrival of the bride and groom, and continue to play until the couple take their seats on the Dais. The Kompang band dressed in traditional Malay baju will then sing verses from the Quran to seek blessings for the couple.
Here are some Kompang services in Singapore:
One thing you cannot miss out in Malay weddings is their authentic traditional Malay cuisines that you can smell those spices from miles away. Here are some popular dishes that we commonly see in Malay weddings.
Type of rice: Nasi Minyak (butter rice), Nasi Briyani (rice cooked with spices and herbs), Nasi Jagung (sweet corn rice), Nasi Bukhari (Arabian rice) and Nasi Tomato (tomato rice).
Main course: Rendang daging, sambal goreng pengantin,udang sweet sour, acar timun, ayam masak merah and dalca
Desserts: Bubur chacha, bubur pulut hitam, kueh keria and kueh lapis
What Guests Should Take Note of When Attending Malay Weddings
Malay weddings can be pretty unfamiliar for some of us, different religious weddings come with different cultures. You may be invited by your Malay neighbour or your Malay friend to attend their wedding ceremony, but you are not sure how Malay weddings are conducted. So here are some things that you should take note of before you attend their weddings so that you don’t catch yourself off-guard during the celebration.
Green Packets / Ang Bao
Giving green packets to the couple is a way to bless the couple and to also return the cost incurred as a guest, including the food costs and venue rental. Depending on the venue that the wedding is held at, the amount you should give differs as well. As a general guideline for per pax, $20-$30 for void deck weddings, $30-$50 for country club receptions and $50-$70 for hotel venues. But if you are close to the couple or feeling generous to bless the couple, by all means, go ahead to give more to the couple.
Usually, there is a box at the reception table for guests to drop in their green packets. Otherwise, you can pass the green packets to the couple or the couple’s parents.
Unlike Chinese weddings or most weddings, Muslims don’t believe in superstitious colours and so it is perfectly fine to wear colours such as black or white. Though Malay weddings are pretty flexible with guests’ attires, it is still a special day and guests should put in some effort to dress up for the joyous occasion. One thing to take note of is to avoid wearing revealing clothes as a form of respect to the couple and their family. Clothing with a low cut neckline or tight short dresses are a big no-no.
While most wedding celebrations have fixed seating plans for their guests, Malay weddings have a free seating arrangement where seats and tables are not assigned. Hence, feel free to find any empty seat and make yourself comfortable with the other guests at the same table. Just make sure to ask whether the seat is available or not!