Weddings are fun and interesting in Indonesia. There are currently seventeen thousand islands that comprise the nation of Indonesia. And the nation has over three hundred ethnic groups, so it could seem like a very big task to understand all the precise details pertaining to wedding etiquette and customs in this very diversified region of the world. But we take a look at some of the more common ones to give you somewhat of an understanding about what relates to the customs and etiquette in general and for Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese and Chinese-Indonesian weddings.
For general etiquette, it is very acceptable and appropriate to bring people such as friend and relatives with you to a wedding with you in Indonesia, even if those attending with you did not personally receive a formal wedding invitation as you had. The more the merrier is the mindset of the people and so they make all who made the effort to attend their wedding feel very welcome and appreciated. Sometimes invitations are given just a few days before the wedding celebration. Invitations can even be verbal or sent by way of SMS or email.
It is the accepted practice to dress up in formal clothing for the weddings. Women are not required to cover their hair. Women often wear Indonesian kebayas and sarongs. But other formal clothing for women is appropriate as well. But note that modesty is important at weddings; and that means that the legs should be covered down below the knee at least, no bellies should be showing and shoulders should be covered.
Attendees of wedding are not required to give gifts to the bride and groom. It is appreciated though, and is a kind and good gesture. The preferred gift is money. The amount that someone gives will be based on his or her social and economic status, of course. But a safe and normal amount to give is based round Rp. 300,000 to Rp. 500,000. Do not necessarily expect a thank you note, though you may be given one. Wedding favors are given to those who give a gift of money, which in this culture replaces the thank you note.
Do not expect a lot of alcohol at weddings as the weddings are quite serious in nature and alcohol is not served often due to the fact of many looking down on the consumption of alcohol due to their Muslim beliefs.
Most weddings are Javanese, since the Javanese form the ethnic majority of the population of Indonesia. The wedding starts off with a formal greeting between the families of the bride and groom. Then the families come to an agreement for the budget, tasks and date for the wedding. It is a three day celebration.
The Sundanese are from the Java region as well. But in their weddings they follow they incorporate the Syariah cultural and religious practices. During the marriage ceremony, there is the placement of a scarf over the bride's and groom's heads in order to symbolized the unity of their minds as a married couple now.
The Balinese people are considered to be mainly Balinese Hindus, which means that they incorporate Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism into their marriage ceremonies. These people partake of three marriage ceremonies that are filled with lots of color and flare. For instance, the first ceremony involves the elopement in which the bride is supposedly kidnapped from the home of her parents. There is a fake search party that says they cannot find the bride. However, during this time the bride and groom perform some rituals and the bride indeed is well.
Chinese-Indonesian weddings are very different in comparison to traditional Indonesian weddings. The ceremony is performed usually in a Catholic or Protestant church. On the morning that the couple is to wed, there is a tea ceremony for the groom at the bride's home.