Gifts for a Malay Wedding

wedding celebration image by Warren Millar from

Malay refers to the predominant ethnic group present in the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia just south of Thailand. All ethnic Malay people are defined as Muslim by Malaysian law, with most of them adhering to the Sunni branch. A traditional Malay wedding lasts a few days and consists of many various ceremonies with gifts exchanged at most of the events. There are gifts given to the broom by the bride, gifts given to the bride by the broom, and gifts given the the newlyweds by family and friends.

Gifts for the Bride From the Groom

These are presented at the engagement ceremony, a meeting between the families of the couple. The gifts are prepared, arranged, wrapped, decorated and placed on trays. Examples of gifts that are acceptable are a gold or diamond ring, complete sets of clothes, scarfs, shawls, handbags, shoes, fruit or even a sirih meminang, which is a betel leaf container.

Gifts for the Groom From the Bride

These are also presented at the engagement ceremony and presented on trays. There should be an odd number of trays presented, usually consisting of seven or more. The gifts usually outnumber the gifts from the bride to the groom. Examples of gifts exchanged might be shirts, a velvet cap (songkok), a prayer mat (sejadah) or shoes.

Gifts for Guests From the Family of the Bride

Bunga telur is given to the guests of the wedding as a symbol of fertility; it usually consists of a boiled egg wrapped in decorations. It is believed the gift will bless the couple with many children. However, nowadays the gift usually consists of gift-wrapped chocolates or candies.

Gifts for the Couple From Guests

Guests give the newlywed couple a wide array of gifts ranging from money, jewelry and clothing to prayer mats, toiletries and even a Qur'an. These gifts are usually presented in boxes known as gubahan. Most likely these gifts will be in correlation with the social status of the couple and family, so a wealthy couple will expect finer gifts like expensive clothing, jewelry and electronics. A middle or lower class couple will expect simple and practical gifts like money, prayer mats, fruit, candy, chocolates, clothing, toiletries, hats or shoes, as well as other gifts that the couple may need or want.