Brunei Wedding Practices

Today being Sunday means someone somewhere (or rather in Brunei's context) a lot of ones are getting married in a lot of wheres but what gets me is that it has to be held at the height of noon. I have mentioned this once in a previous blog on spaces.msn about why must Brunei Malays have wedding ceremonies at the height of the day when the sun is right on top of us and the temperature is at its highest? For crying out loud, this is Brunei - a country smacked in the middle of the tropical equator with sunshine second to none. Maybe one day, one day, we will change the time of the ceremonies. I will start when my 6 year old son finally gets married in about two decades from now.

Two years ago, I was in Johor for my Malaysian cousin's wedding. It was a different wedding compared to the Brunei wedding. The jemputan (guests) were invited to come from about 10 am to 5 pm, so guests can actually choose to come at whatever time that suits them. You can come late if you have another 10 weddings to attend before that or come early if you have another 10 to go to. My uncle only had to prepare four tents instead of the 50 tents that we have over here in Brunei. We only served food to the guests when they come. But what I love is that we can avoid the hot noon sun if we wanted to. All in all, I thought that wedding ceremony was a lot more flexible than ours compared to the ones in Brunei.

Presumably the Malaysian wedding ceremony styles have changed to suit their culture and social changes. Our wedding ceremonies too have changed tremendously. For instance our tents which we now used are metal and can be dismantled and reused. About 25 years ago, I remembered if you want to hold a wedding ceremony, you have to construct your own tents or rather construct the frame complete with wooden or bamboo chairs and tables. You have to go rent the canvas for the top covering from someone; and before canvas arrived, you have to get coconut leaves as the roof covering. The food served too have changed. At the weddings, guests used to be served together with food, cigarettes (555 brand) and bananas. Prior to that, guests were even fetched from their houses. This was a Kampung Ayer practise which made the rounds even when our people had moved to the ground when guests were invited using perahus and on dry land, guests were invited by cars.

One practise which has disappeared is the 'sirih pinang' - this is when during the first night the groom and the bride retire together, they are asked to take with them a piece of white cloth. The purpose of which is to prove the existence of virgin blood to the family the next day. Hmmm. The first time I heard that, I have always wondered if whatever reason there was no blood. You better retire with a needle to get some spots on that white cloth! There are a number of other practises which remain but maybe I will reserve that for future blogs.


SD Mummy said…
For my wedding, my caterer had suggested to adopt the mentioned Malaysian way- complete with nice tents with chandeliers. However, we didn't go through it as

1) the elderlies in my family wasn't in favour of it (i.e. 'lain jua. nda bisai eh. etc. etc.')

2) we were worried that everyone decided to come between 3-4pm as there were MANY weddings on the same day. we won't be able to accomodate everyone in 4-5 tents.

but i would love to attend that sort of a wedding. not only its flexible but one can also get a chance to mingle with the bride & groom.

that was one thing i didn't like about my wedding. i did not get to see my guests and thanked them personally.
Anonymous said…
I did wonder why Malays got married at lunch (it's notas if the couple had time to have lunch). Plus I also wondered when the couple got to actually talk with the people they invited to their wedding. It seems that people show up (late!!), wait for the Doa (and then proceed to talk very loudly through the Doa), eat (then tapau the extra) and then leave without saying thanks or goodbye (indeed did they even say hello?).

Is this how people got married in the 1800s? Whatever happened to weddings being a time of getting together with family and friends and having a good time?
Anonymous said…
If we organise wedding like malaysian I wondering we have to work the whole day. After that we have the ambilan-ambilan ceremony again. Then how the photographer and videoman charge for the whole day?

It very interesting to make changes. Nowdays some the wedding a held inside hall with the aircond. It seem goods where we can mingle around.
Anonymous said…
i have been to two weddings in Brunei where the guests can come within the time frame of 10-3pm. I have to agree to what ss said earlier, the general comments that can be heard were not in favour of the style saying how it was disorganised. The hosts too were not in their best of moods since they did not have control over the flow of the crowd.
Anonymous said…
Some weddings in Brunei surprisingly are held at night. I once saw it on the way back to my place where the wedding was held somewhere in Tanah Jambu. The thought of having a wedding at night does not really fancy me. Malaysians weddings are bit odd I think. Its not that 'MAJALIS' as we said in Brunei. It probably suit the Malaysian very well since they are busy lots.
FlyBoy said…
I believe this is what makes Brunei weddings unique. We're a tiny country where everyone knows everyone and so sometimes we should follow the status quo. Although i asked my parents to have the 'nikah' only, they suggested that it would not look good on us since i had a reasonably well-paid job and people would be suspicious of why the ceremony was so small and simple.
So i followed the advice of my parents and spent an extra $10,000 on my wedding. Actually, it was my parent's wedding but my marriage.
At least my dad said he'd sponsor the house for me ie lend his house for my wedding. Cheeky.
Unknown said…
When my wedding comes I am SO going to do whatever I like because it is my wedding and it is my marriage.


*now to look for a husband who will agree*
Anonymous said…
Ill see you do that, Maurina. If you succeed, you can call me Wendy.
Anonymous said…
I guess weddings in Brunei are slowly changing. very slowly...for instance, most weddings now are being done at hotels/halls, as I have done...Thank God for air-con...we actually wanted to do the bersanding at night but the family suggested otherwise because of relatives who live far out in KB. As for programs of weddings, ada berubahan, at one wedding, I heard the gulingtangan then ada live band and org menyanyi english love songs...very different, very cool. couple years back I had a fren who had a nikah ceremony, bersanding then reception ceremony. Then I see nowadays, ppl are starting to combine the bersanding and reception ceremony, Good on them! Save money ler tu... But yea...slowly slowly, weddings ARE changing. Maybe give it another 15 more years before ceremonies are celebrated the way u like it ;) P/S: Just a thought, do we really want wedding ceremonies to change to loose out on our traditional ceremonies? I mean, I kinda regret not doing the Majlis berbedak :(
Anonymous said…
I personally am in favour of the traditional malay style wedding (i.e. at home)as oppossed to the orang-putih reception style (altho this would be nice to have for just friends and family as a separate thing).
Having said that, if I were to get married I would, ideally, only want the nikah and even then I'd limit it to friends and immediate family. Malay weddings are too long, and a waste of money.
A wedding is a party, save the money for your marriage. ;)

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