Usually done three to six months before the big day, the engagement ceremony is one of the most important wedding customs in Indonesia. During the ceremony, the groom's family visits the bride's home to formally ask for her hand in marriage.
Different ethnic groups in Indonesia have their own sets of traditional wedding customs, and most of them start with the engagement. These days, most couples forgo the more complicated rituals and instead go for a simple engagement ceremony that you can read below.
1. Arrival of the groom's family
The engagement ceremony begins as soon as the groom's family arrives at the bride's house. The bride's family will then welcome and invite the groom's family to enter the house or any other venuewhere the event is held.
Alongside his parents and siblings, the groom is accompanied by his extended family, including his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The groom's family usually brings gifts known as seserahan or hantaran for the bride.
2. The opening
After both families are inside the house, the procession is opened by a host appointed by the bride's family. The host or MC greets and thanks everyone for their presence, usually followed by a prayer.
The MC will then briefly explain the rundown of the event. A short story or explanation about the couple can be added before the MC formally asks the intention of the groom's family's visit that day.
Next, a representative from the groom's family will answer that their intention is to propose to the bride. Ending the speech, the representative then asks the bride whether she is willing to marry the groom.
4. The bride's family answers
After the question, comes the answer from the bride and her family. If the proposal is accepted, the bride's family will give a welcoming answer, supporting the bride and groom's marriage plans.
Upon accepting the answer, the groom's mother will present gifts called seserahan or peningset to the bride's mother. The gifts symbolize the groom's serious intention in proposing to the bride. Based on a prior agreement between the two families, the gifts usually range from food to the bride's daily necessities.
This is when the engagement ring exchange is done. Usually, the bride's mother will put the ring on the groom's finger and vice versa, the groom's mother to the bride.
This is not a requirement in all engagement ceremonies, as some couples only exchange rings on their wedding day. Depending on the custom and agreement between both families, the engagement ring can be replaced by other jewelry or symbolic objects, such as a necklace, bracelet, or even traditional fabric.
7. Family introduction
Next, the ceremony continues with an introduction session to strengthen the bond between two families. The groom's family will introduce every family member, followed by the bride's family. At this stage, the atmosphere is already a bit less formal and is done as a form of ice-breaking.
8. Ending the ceremony
Finally, the proposal ceremony will be closed with a prayer, so that the entire wedding planning process will run smoothly. The entire family then takes a few pictures together before the bride's family invites the guests to dine together.