Saturday, 22 September 2012

My Big Fat Malay Wedding

A couple of days ago, I read an interesting news paper article about how much dowry is enough? What is the proper 'rate' to give? What would be appropriate?

A wedding should basically held up as a lodestar of bringing families together and of realizing a couple's dreams, but the "happily ever after" myth that permeates Malay weddings was powerfully dispelled.

Most couples want to begin their married life auspiciously and free from the problems. However, it is not uncommon to hear about married couples who go into debt just to get married.

Behind the happy images of the big fat Malay weddings getting progressively bigger and fatter lurks the unpalatable truth of dowry and wedding cost. Dowry is a social evil in which the families of Malay brides can make such a big demands of the groom. Sometimes, the parents of the couple may expect a grand wedding celebration. The parents may want to show off to the relatives or friends and therefore expect no less than a grand wedding feast.

Bride price, also known as bride wealth, bride token, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom. (Compare Indian dowry, which is paid to the groom, or used by the bride to help establish the new household, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage.) The agreed bride price may or may not intended to reflect the perceived value of the girl or young woman.

Malay-Muslim tradition in Malaysia dictates two kinds of wedding dowries — the “mas kahwin” and “hantaran perkahwinan”.  

Mas kahwin prices in Malaysia are fixed by local state religious departments. It is compulsory in Islam for a man to pay dowry to the woman on entering marriage. 

Hantaran, on the other hand, is a tradition and technically optional. Hantaran was normally use by bride family to support their wedding functions. These bride prices are increasingly seeing young Malay couples heading to the wedding dais shackled by debt as they struggle to deal with the rising living costs

The sharp increase in prices of essential commodities, vegetables and food products has made catering costlier. Despite skyrocketing prices, relatives of the couple make specific demands about the delicacies to be served.

Due to the expensive rent of marriage halls and food costs, now days there will be a joint function. A wedding is supposed to be a once in a lifetime occasion. The couple may have no problem about spending whatever amount it takes to organize a special and a memorable wedding for themselves. They may decide to invite all their friends and relatives and hence need to accommodate a lot of people.They may decide to do their banquet at a hall instead of under a canopy in front of the house.

Yet this crazy spending for just one day, by two people, who are obviously smitten to even think logical; taking vows to spend the rest of their lives in wedded bliss…

A couple may decide to get married thinking they have sufficient savings fund to cover all the necessary expenses. However, they may fall for the various marketing gimmicks giving them the promises of the perfect wedding. The couple may end up paying extras for the wedding photos, the banquet, wedding rings or jewellery, clothing, preliminary celebration, honeymoon, etc. If they had a budget in the beginning, they may end up being over budget in the end.

The above are common scenarios on how a couple can get into debt when they get married. There are several ways for them to acquire the money and some of the common route is to use their credit cards, borrow from their parents or relatives, borrow from friends, take out a personal loan, etc. Depending on how big is their wedding debt, it may take years for them to repay or settle it.

I am a cynical realist who believes extravagant romanticism is only for the foolhardy. While you guys battle out the pros and cons of a big fat wedding, I am still trying to plan my own simple wedding. 

Note: Even to initial cost to hire Foreign Maid from Indonesia & Philippine in Malaysia now at RM 5000. What about having a wife?


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