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Malay Wedding Part 3: The Venue

Posted by on 11 February 2009

This is the long-overdue third installment of my series on Malay weddings. You can find Part 1 (Meminang) here and read about Part 2 (Hantaran) here.

Even though many hotels and halls offer wedding packages, the bride’s and groom’s respective houses still remain as the most popular venue for most Malay weddings.

If you see canopies like this being put up in a street in your neighbourhood, chances are, there’s going to be a wedding reception in that place in one or two days’ time.


The canopies would straddle both sides of the street but would be high enough for cars to go through, hence, while they’re being put up, cars would still be able to go in and out of the neighbourhood as usual. However, as the tables and chairs are brought out and arranged under those canopies, that section of the road would be temporarily closed to traffic, usually for half a day, at most for one whole day. Naturally, it is necessary to obtain approval from the municipal or city council for such things.

Canopies can range from the very basic, simple tent-like structures, to the more interesting ones that come with colourful scallop curtains to match your reception’s theme, to the more sophisticated ones that come with built-in fans (very useful for Malaysia’s sweltering humid weather) and, sometimes, even with mini chandeliers.

Canopies provide the much-needed extra space in order to accommodate the steady stream of guests. They’re usually rented together with the tables and chairs. Some caterers even include canopies in their packages.

One section would be set aside as the meja pengantin, i.e. the table where the bride and groom and selected members from both sides of the families would sit and have their meal. The food for the meja pengantin is, of course, special — either completely different from what all other guests partake in or have similar dishes but with a few special extras included.

Canopies, however, only cover one portion of the venue, i.e. the outdoors portion. Indoors is an altogether different story.

First of all, there’s the lounge, usually stripped bare of all its furniture and covered from wall to wall with carpets, on which guests and relatives would sit.


In many cases, the akad nikah or marriage ceremony would be done in this room. This is not always the case, as some couples opt to have the akad nikah in a nearby mosque.

There would be one area of the house with two chairs or a bench on an elevated platform, usually decorated with flowers. Remember this photo from my previous post, Selamat Pengantin Baru?

newly weds on pelamin

It’s called the pelamin. This area would be the focal point of the reception, as this is where the newly wed couple would sit and be presented formally as husband and wife. Naturally, many guests would have their photo taken with the newly weds here.

Finally, there’s the highlight of any bride’s reception — the bride’s bedroom. The room would be elaborately decorated, usually following a colour theme of the bride’s choice. There would be new sheets and matching curtains, sometimes wallpaper, sometimes ribbons and four-poster beds, usually with fresh flowers.

bride’s bedroom

If the akad nikah is held in the bride’s house, the bride’s room would be the place where the bride, her closest friends and the mak andam — the lady who does the bride’s hair and makeup — would be holed up while waiting for the guests to arrive.

mak andam and bride

Once in a while, a friend or relative would come, pose with the bride and have their photo taken together, with the gaily decorated room as the backdrop.

bride waiting inside bedroom

After the akad nikah, this room would also be where many photographs of the newly weds would be taken. Usually, only relatives and female guests can go into or even take a peek at the bride’s bedroom.

For me, even though weddings held in hotels are of a grander scale, I find that weddings held in the bride’s homes are much more charming, warm and intimate.

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