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10 Malaysian wedding guest etiquette rules you should remember

So, you’ve just received an invitation to a wedding. You may find yourself excited, especially if it is a union for someone (or a couple of people) you care about in your life.

It is also a chance to enjoy good food, catch up with relatives, meet old friends and make new ones.

Since it is a joyous celebration for two people, you should be honoured to be invited, so remember your etiquette as a wedding guest.

A wedding celebration is a joyous ceremony for two people who decided to spend the rest of their lives together.
Here at KajoMag, we want to remind you 10 wedding guest etiquette rules you ought to know before and during the celebration.
Keep your etiquette as a wedding guest in check.
1.For goodness sake, do RSVP on time.

This is the number one wedding guest etiquette rule, do RSVP.

Let the couple know once you have confirmed your attendance before their due date.

By doing this, you are helping the couple in their wedding preparation.

But what if something came up in the last minute and you cannot make it? Let the couple know, even if it is only a few days away. If the wedding reception takes place in a seated arrangement, the couple could find somebody to replace you.

2.Do not make too many requests.

Preparing for a wedding could be a stressful thing for a couple, the least you could do as a wedding guest is not make unnecessary requests.

If you are a vegan or on a restricted diet due to religious or health reasons, it is understandable to make certain requests before the wedding.

Before making any request for the wedding as a guest, ask these questions first; is it really important? Can you deal with it without bothering the couple? If the answer is no and yes, in that order, then do not make the request.

On top of the wedding preparation, the couple might also be going through a hundred other things in their lives. So be considerate of them. In the end of the day, it is their wedding not yours.

3.Do not complain to the couple, especially on the wedding day.

Remember the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Someone’s wedding day is the best day to practice this saying.

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Before the wedding, there are plenty of things not to complain about as a wedding guest. Not happy with the dress code or the dress theme? Improvise and bear with it.

Not happy with the seating arrangement at the wedding reception? Bear with it because it is just for a few hours.

The food or drinks not to your liking? A helpful cheat, especially useful if the event runs late, is to eat a little meal before you go, that way you aren’t starving at the event. It also helps when the food isn’t to your taste, then you can nibble here and there.

If you are not happy with anything or there is something that needs to be fixed right away, be that person who helps to deal with it. The couple will really appreciate your gesture.

The worst thing you could do as a guest is to go up to the couple on the day of their nuptials and complain about their wedding.

Whatever you do, do not make it a stressful day for wedding couple.
4.Again for goodness sake, do be on time.

Here in Malaysia, we have seen too many cases of guests arriving late, be it for the wedding ceremony or reception.

It is just rude. Of course, it is also rude for couples to keep their wedding guests waiting.

(For couples that do invite VIPs, especially active ministers or assemblymen, come up with a backup plan if their duties will make them late for your event. Don’t let your guests starve while waiting for them to arrive. Similarly, you have to remember that it’s your wedding, not a government function.)

So for a wedding, let us all be on time whether you are getting married or not.

Always on time for a wedding especially if it takes place in a church or any religious houses.
5.Do not assume you can bring a date.

Never assume who you can bring for a wedding reception.

Check your invitation card. If the invitation doesn’t state a plus-one, then do not bring one. Do not assume your children are welcome too. If you really need to bring a date or you do not have anyone to babysit your children, let the couple know beforehand so that they can make arrangements.

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And please do not assume all your mutual friends are invited as well. It is possible that you are one of the few in your group of friends or colleagues who are invited due to plenty of reasons.

It could be because the venue is small or there is a budget issue. Do not make things awkward for the couple by bringing in the whole gang but in the end some of them are not on the invitation list.

6.Do turn off your phone.

Always remember to turn off your phone especially if the wedding ceremony takes place in religious houses. Even during the wedding reception, do not be a party pooper by looking at your phone all the time. You have plenty of time to do that at home.

7.Watch where you point your camera.

In this era of smartphones, this is perhaps the wedding guest etiquette some people do not practice.

Just because you have a camera on your phone, do not feel entitled to take photos everywhere and anytime during wedding celebrations.

If the wedding ceremony takes place in a religious house, take note of the do’s and don’ts of that place.

For example, do not rush right up to the altar in a church and stand next to the priest just to take a photo for your Facebook friends. (Yes, we have seen this type of wedding guests.)

Above all, never ever stand in the way of the couple’s official photographer. As a wedding guest you should not ruin the couple’s only chance to capture their special moments.

Never block the official photographer during a wedding.
8.Do not get wasted.

If you are in East Malaysia, raise your hand if you have seen fights break out during the wedding celebration, all thanks to alcohol.

In most kampungs (villages) and longhouses, there are strict rules against fighting during any celebration. You could be fined for breaking these rules.

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Even if you are not the type to get into fights when intoxicated, wedding celebrations are just not the place to get wasted.

It doesn’t matter if you saw your former flame come with a hotter or better looking version of you as a date, or you have an ongoing court case over ancestral land with a relative who came for the wedding, there is no valid reason to get inebriated.

If you are drinking, know your limits and stick to them.

If you see an unfinished or unopened bottle of alcohol, leave it for the families or other wedding guests. Unless you have requested it from the newlyweds or families, do not do the Malaysian style of tapao.

Keep your alcohol level in check as a wedding guest.
9.Do not leave too early.

If it is an emergency, you are free to excuse yourself but let the couple or their families know.

Different cultures have different timing as when it is considered appropriate to leave a wedding celebration.

During some Malaysian weddings, there are guests who have left even before the couple have come over to the table to make a toast (usually to beat the traffic jam in the parking lot). So imagine how disappointed the newlyweds are to see a half-empty table halfway through the reception.

10.Do bring home your wedding favour.

No matter how small the wedding favour is, do not forget to bring them home.

Do not have that mindset, “It is just a small bag of sweets,” or “it doesn’t cost much.”

Every piece of wedding favour is a sign of appreciation from the couple for their wedding guests. They could have opted to forego the whole thing and let you leave empty-handed. Yet, they chose not to do so, so appreciate them.

Remember that a wedding celebration should be a joyous one. Add on the joy and happiness of the celebration by enjoying yourself as a wedding guest.

Eat, drink and be merry!

All photos from unsplash.com

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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