Wedding Traditions Of An Indonesian Wedding

NicoleMaui Photography

Wedding Traditions Of An Indonesian Wedding



One of the biggest wedding traditions in Indonesia is the more the better. Almost everyone that they know will get an invitation to their wedding from their relatives to business partners and acquaintances. An Indonesian wedding tradition is that they also like to have foreigners at their weddings. So if you are visiting Indonesia don’t be surprised if you get an invite or two to a wedding as they believe it is very prestigious to have a foreigner attend.


In Indonesia, it is also considered acceptable to join others who got an invite even if you didn’t, unless it is a sit down dinner where a limit may be set. The Indonesians are very honored when their guests attend their wedding as it shows them that you care, as well as showing the families that you respect and support them. If you ever get invited to an Indonesian wedding, and do not know them very well, you now know that you don’t need to question their intent. If you do not attend, not only do they consider it hurtful, but an insult and it may affect your relationship in the future.


The Invitations


In the more urban parts of Indonesia the wedding invitation can be very extravagant while in the more rural parts the invitations are done by the family, visiting friends and neighbors. On the invitations they will have a welcoming to the guest saying that they will bring great blessing and honor to the bride and groom. It will also include the time and date of the Akad Nikah, which is the wedding ceremony and the Resepsi Pernikahan, which is the reception to the wedding. Even though the invitation has both ceremony and the reception, most of the people will only attend the wedding reception. As mentioned, the invitation does invite you to both, but you may still want to ask if it’s alright for you to come to the ceremony because it is usually a smaller crowed meant for close family and friends. They will more than likely say yes, but better safe than sorry.


The Wedding Gift


The wedding gifts in Jakarta would be super extravagant with huge floral arrangements, while wedding guests would bring different household items for the couple. When there was a large wedding, where thousands of people were invited, there would be many duplicate gifts. Therefore, a new practice began in the mid-1990’s, after the economic crisis, where the couple would ask that there be no floral arrangements or gifts. Turns out it was a nice way of asking for money instead.


At the reception they will have a nicely decorated box with a slit in it. This is where you slide your envelope with your money in. In addition, when you attend an Indonesian wedding, do not expect a thank you card for your gift at the wedding, but rather a small fan or keychain will be given to you with a note attached thanking you for coming.


Wedding Reception


When you arrive to most wedding receptions in Indonesia you will sign a guest book, be given a thank you token for your attendance, give your gift and then go into the reception hall. On the way into the reception you will generally have family members on either side welcoming you. After the family, there will be young women and men holding a chain of flowers called the Pagar Ayu, which means fence of beauty.


If you get to the reception on time you are sure to see the wedding procession enter the reception hall, which can be very impressive depending on the wealth or status of the couple. The bride and groom may have dancers come and perform a traditional dance before they take the stage or it may happen after they are already seated. After the bride, groom and family have arrived they will then have speeches where a representative of each family will thank you for your attendance and apologize if anything was lacking. Sometimes these speeches can take up to a half hour and when the speeches are over the guests will come up and shake hands with the wedding party and family.


After you have been through the receiving line you will be invited to eat. There is usually lots of food to choose from like sushi, tempura, dim sum and some western dishes. Additionally there will be no alcohol served at the wedding reception and very likely there will be no dancing as well.