9 Steps of Engagement Tradition in Indonesia - Customs and Etiquette

by Michelle Devani

Engagement tradition in Indonesia is really different compared to other countries. Indonesia rich in culture and every culture has it’s own tradition. But coming to engagement, the tradition in every cultures are almost similar. The engagement tradition itself usually held 3 – 12 months before the wedding. The engagement ceremony in Indonesia is one of the most important wedding customs for Indonesian.

During the engagement ceremony, the groom's family will visits the bride's home to formally ask for her hand in marriage to her parents. It is totally different compared to western countries, western people engagement is way more simple than Indonesian Engagement.

In west country the guy asks the girl and brought the engagement ring for the girl. Even different ethnic groups in this country a.k.a Indonesia will have their own rules or sets of traditional wedding customs, and most of them start with the engagement ceremony. Lately, most couples don’t remember the more complicated and sacred rituals and instead go for a simple engagement ceremony that I have already list bellow.

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1. The visit from groom's family

The engagement ceremony in Indonesia started when the groom’s family visiting the bride’s house. At this moment actually both families are already plan this visitation. Then the bride’s family will welcome and invide the groom’s family to their house or another venue such as hotel’s ballroom, because some families would like to invite their relatives during the engagement ceremony or their close friends. Usually the groom’s family will brings gifts for the bride, in Indonesian tradition the gifts called ‘Seserahan’ or ‘Hantaran’.

2. The opening

After the groom’s family and the bride’s family are blend in, the next procession starts by the MC that appointed by the bride’s family.
The host or MC will greets and thanks everyone for their presence in this engagement ceremony, usually also followed by a prayer to ask blessing from God. The host or MC will then explain the rundown of the engagement event. And after this the host or MC usually also telling a short story about the groom and the bride and then the host will formally asks the intention of the groom's family's for the visit that day.

3. The proposal

After the opening, part of the family from the groom's side will answer that their intention for this event is to propose the bride. The speaker then ask the bride is she willing to marry the groom or not but usually the bride will say yes.

4. The bride's family will answers

After the proposal from the groom, the bride’s family should give an answer, if the proposal from the groom is accepted, they will give welcoming and supportive answer and then both families will make marriage plans that will coming soon.

5. Presenting seserahan or gifts to the bride's family

After the bride’s family accept the proposal, the groom’s family will present gifts called ‘seserahan to the bride. The gifts symbolize to the groom. The gifts has meaning that the groom's serious intention in proposing to the bride. Based on a agreement between the groom and bride’s family, the gifts usually range from bride's daily necessities needs such a clothes, make ups and sometime foods as well.

6. Ring exchange

Usually engagement tradition in Indonesia required ring exchange. And usually the bride’s mother will put the ring to the groom’s finger and the groom’s mother put the ring on the bride’s finger

7. Family introduction

Then the next ceremony would be the introduction session, both brode’s family and groom’s family will introduce theirself to each other. And usually started with the groom’s family then followed by the bride’s family. At this session usually the atmosphere is not as formal as in the beginning.

8. The ending of the engagement ceremony

Since all the ceremonies already done, usually it will be closed by prayer, to thanks god because the engagement ceremony run smoothly. Since the host already lead the prayer, this has meaning that the ceremony already done, the next event usually both family takes picture together.

9. Lunch or dinner together

After finished taking pictures of both family, the bride’s family will invite the groom’s family and the guests to have lunch or dinner together. This sessions also allowing the guests have casual chat with each other in more non formal way.

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Difference on Indonesia Engagement and Wedding Event

Those are the engagement tradition in Indonesia in general, but since Indonesia built up to 17000 island and has more than 300 ethnic cultures, the tradition may vary. Next, we are going to talk about the difference between engagement ring and wedding ring in Indonesia. Is wedding ring and engagement ring are the same? But the answer is no, they are different, so here is why:

  1. Engagement ring generally stand by itself, doesn’t have to be pair of rings. This mean, the groom to be could give it to the bride to be, to symbolize that the women is his.
  2. Engagement ring could be a sign that the groom’s to be is already financially stable to marry the bride to be and show it to the family.
  3. Engagement ring could also be the wedding ring. The groom’s to be usually sure that the women they are going to propose will say yes and commit for marriage. But if they both are not sure whether they are going to get married or not, it would be better to get engagement ring first.
  4. In west country such America, usually engagement ring placed on the bride’s to be left pinky finger. Usually the ring made from gold or silver with various size of diamond in the middle.
  5. Usually wedding ring doesn’t use big size diamond in the middle, almost people prefer wedding ring with small sized diamonds.

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Unique and Traditional Engagement in Indonesia

We will give you few example of unique engagement tradition in Indonesia from another ethnic:

1. Betawi Engagement Tradition

Engagement is really important for Betawi ethnic, it’s called ‘ngelamar’. It is an official request from the groom’s to be (calon tuan mantu) family to bride’s to be (calon none mantu) family. At that moment the groom’s to be get the answer from the bride’s to be family. In the same moment, they will decide the marriage requirements. One of the requirement is the bride’s to be need to finish reading the whole Qur’an.

And then, there is ‘seserahan’ (gifts) at this engagement ceremony, and the gifts usually filled with sirih lamaran,banana, plain bread, fruits, and also clothes. Also this mean that the bride’s to be is tied to the groom’s to be after the groom’s to be put the ring on the bride’s to be finger.

Also read: Dating Culture Differences between East and West

2. Minangkabau Engagement Traditions 

Bride’s to be family will make a visitation to bride’s to be family for asking the groom’s to be. After the groom’s to be family accepted, they will exchange rings to symbolize that they tied up and have each others back. This event will include both big families.

The bride’s to be family will carry ‘seserahan’ or gifts followed by foods such as fuits, cakes, and sometime they will bring traditional stuff such as keris, traditional fabric or other stuff that has historical meaning to the bride’s to be family. These traditional stuffs will be returned after the marriage vow.

Also read: How to Propose Someone

3. Papua Engagement Traditions 

Engagement is really important in Papua, and the engagement tradition in Papua is really unique and different compared to other region in Indonesia. There are two kinds of engagement tradition in Papua, first is happen when both couple are really young (more or less around 12 years old), the boy’s parents would visit and ask to the girl’s parents, this tradition called ‘Sanepan’. Then second called ‘Fakfuken’ when both of the groom’s to be parents will propose to the bride’s to be after both the couple reach 15 years old. When the groom’s to be is about to propose the bride’s to be, the groom’s side will bring ‘Kaken’, or the introduction symbol such as bracelet or beads necklace.

There is no official requirements about the gifts, amount or what kind of gifts the groom’s should bring. If the bride’s to be family accepted the seserahan from groom’s to be family, then the bride’s family also have to give seserahan to the groom’s family as the introduction symbol.

If both sides agree about the proposal then both of the family will make a plan for the wedding and decided the jewelry or mas kawin for the wedding. Mas kawin called ‘Kamfar’, which is usually filled with bracelet from seashells. If the groom’s to be is from rich family, the groom’s to be would give boat to the bride’s to be as ‘mas kawin’. But recently, they substitute the ‘mas kawin’ with silver bracelet. After both family decided the ‘mas kawin’ both of the families now heading to the leader of the ethnic group. In Papua the leader of the ethnic group has important role.event, both family will decided the date of the wedding after the leader of the ethnics tells them when is the best day. And then all the preparation for the wedding usually being prepared just a week away before the wedding day.

Indeed, engagement event is one step closer to a wedding. By an engagement ceremony, the couple declare that they will be serious in the relationship and ready for the future life together. Meanwhile, there are many unique engagement traditions in Indonesia. In case you ever heard, always spread love in every corner.

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Michelle Devani
My name is Michelle Devani, and I've been helping people with their relationships since 2003. In 2017 I decided it was about time I started a blog on the topic, and since then more than 2 million people worldwide have read my relationship advice. Drop me a comment below to let me know what you think.

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