A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes. Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of wedding vows by the couple, presentation of a gift (offering, ring(s), symbolic item, flowers, money), and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or leader. Special wedding garments are often worn, and the ceremony is sometimes followed by a wedding reception. Music, poetry, prayers or readings from religious texts or literature are also commonly incorporated into the ceremony.
A number of cultures have adopted the traditional Western custom of the white wedding, in which a bride wears a white wedding dress and veil. This tradition was popularized through the wedding of Queen Victoria. Some say Victoria's choice of a white gown may have simply been a sign of extravagance, but may have also been influenced by the values she held which emphasized sexual purity. Within the modern 'white wedding' tradition, a white dress and veil are unusual choices for a woman's second or subsequent wedding. The notion that a white gown might symbolize sexual purity has been long abandoned, and is criticized by etiquette writers like Judith Martin as distasteful. The use of a wedding ring has long been part of religious weddings in Europe and America, but the origin of the tradition is unclear. Historians like Vicki Howard point out that belief in the "ancient" quality of the practice are most likely a modern invention. "Double ring" ceremonies are also a modern practice, a groom's wedding band not appearing in the United States until the early 20th century. The wedding is often followed by a reception or wedding breakfast, in which the rituals may include toasting the newlyweds, their first dance as spouses, and the cutting of a wedding cake.
Traditional Malay weddings are very grand affairs that used to last up to seven days. Many rituals were influenced by Hindu rites and are practiced to keep the culture alive but Malay wedding is fascinating and steeped in age-old tradition.
A Malay wedding begins with the ‘akad nikah’ ceremony. The groom signs the marriage contract and agrees to provide the bride with a ‘mas kahwin’. After that, their hands are dyed with henna during the ‘berinai besar’ ceremony. The bride's hair is also trimmed or her eyebrows shaped by a beautician known as the ‘mak andam’.
The next day, the groom is accompanied by friends, relatives, musicians and ‘bunga manggar’ (palm blossom) carriers to the bride's house where they are usually greeted with the sprinkling of yellow rice and scented water. Sometimes, the ‘pencak silat’ or the traditional Malay sword dance is performed. To add gaiety to the joyful affair, the groom and his party are required to overcome humorous obstacles before being allowed to go in. Each guest will receive a ‘bunga telur’, which means 'flower' and 'egg' - a symbol of a fertile union. After the ‘bersanding’ ceremony, the wedded couple and their guests will attend a celebratory feast called the ‘makan beradab’. This involves the bride and groom feeding each other sweetened rice. The nuptial night is spent at the bride's house. The following day, similar festivities, normally on a smaller scale, are held at the bridegroom's house. Then, for the next one month or so, the couple will be invited for meals at one house after another in order to usher them into the married community. However, the modern trend is to immediately go on honeymoon, postponing the socializing rites for later. The activities that take place during Malay wedding come from the diverse cultural traditions Indigenous, Hindu and Islamic that has together served to shape traditional Malay culture. The numerous activities constitute a Malay wedding may...