The Wedding Gift

As you might be aware, Indonesians love to throw a big wedding. The bigger the better. Inviting thousand people to a three-hour party is something that considered normal for many people. The Indonesian way of calculating invitation is not one invitation valid for two people, but one invitation valid to a bunch of people, they are father, mother, son, daughter and the nanny (ies).Β  Any bride and groom should ensure that they will not running out of the food, thus, they have to empty their bank account. If they do not have enough money, they should not worry because parents in Indonesia are are always ready to borne the damage. Consequently, most of the invitees are the colleagues and friends of both parents and that the presents should go to parents who have invested their money.

Closer friends usually give a personal present like jewel (my favorite), tea set, spa voucher, hotel voucher of even lingerie.Β  While the not-so-close friends or even stranger (to the bride and groom) normally give cash. The amount is varied from five to thousand dollar, depend on the financial situation of the guests. Surprisingly, there are always guests who come empty-handed or those who unashamedly giving an envelope without neither money nor name.

Anyway, the money which is supposed to help the bride and group starting their new life (or paying debt if they take loan to hold the wedding party) is often become source of dispute among the parents. Parents who spent invested more are often feel they are entitled for more return. There also parents who spent nothing, but forcing the bride and groom to share the gift with them because they feel that the gift are from their friends. There’s even parents who took away the money box right after the wedding party because they are afraid that parents from the other side might take it away.


Forgive me, but I didn’t know remember where did I get this photo

The Chinese Indonesians do differently. They invented a numbering mechanism in the envelope. Guests do not drop the envelope to the box directly, but hand it to the usher. The usher will be the one responsible to put the envelope in the box. Before dropping the envelope, the usher will put a number (using sticker or pen) based on the wedding guest book. For Chinese Indonesian, knowing the exact amount of the present is very important. In the future, when the guests hold a wedding or funeral, they will “return” back the money. So if you give empty envelope you will get empty envelope. Smart!

Bule usually gives money. They usually estimate the cost of the meal and give a little bit more to help the bride and groom cover the expenses. When the guest come as couple, the amount of the gift always doubled. In their custom, making RSVP to a wedding and not showing up is unacceptable. If one does that, then one has to send the gift as ‘compensation’. That’s why when bules don’t have money they would prefer not come to the wedding (and present an empty envelope). In the USA, guests sometimes put the receipt of the present so if they bride and groom do not like the present, they can always return it to the shop. It is also common to register gifts from certain shop so guests could easily pick present that match with budget. Please note that not all bules give presents, there are always bules who do not give gift or give crazy present. Here is one of the example of bridezila vs crazy guest. Both, in my opinion, are crazy.

Some people see wedding party as a way of celebrating their love with the world and do not care about the present. Some only want to spend it with closer friends and do not care about the present. The presence of close friends and family members in the wedding is already a present for the bride and the groom that will treasured for the rest of their life.

What’s your favorite wedding gift?


22 thoughts on “The Wedding Gift

  1. The same thing goes in some villages in Java.It is common-not just for wedding- to give a basket full with items such as sugar; tea; rice; raw noodle etc.Usually the female is the one who bring this basket.Then the host will records all items and put some food inside the basket before give it back to the owner.The term for this custom is “mbecek”.The word “e” pronounced like “e” in “becek”.
    You can find this in some villages of east java (madiun, pacitan, ponorogo etc).
    Another story coming from michigan where my ex lives. Just last week she married in Punta Cana, during our chat, she was grumbling how people try to avoid her invitation. I just told her “of course, unless you pay for the accommodation they would’ve been happy to come”.
    You are correct ai.Bule thinks it’s better not to come if they don’t have money even they are eligible for it.

    • I didn’t remember about that tradition until you mentioned it. Thank you for that. The tradition exists in Malang and Bali too. Villagers bring sugar, coffee, rice and other stuff before the wedding to help the bride and the groom. Bule avoid attending wedding, while Indonesians force themselves to come, even if they don’t have money, to show respect. It really is interesting, the point of view of both Indonesians and Bules.

      • I think that’s the difference between tradition and modern attitude. The villagers do that simply because that’s what they can afford. Goods or manpower instead of money.While modern people preferred cash as a simple way as you explained.
        I’m more into the traditional style when there is a wedding although money still involves. The feeling of togetherness is amazing.
        The “conflict” of your post lies on parents behavioural.A friend of mine held a wedding for his son.Told me “saya rugi besar”.The costs was almost 300 millions.I felt pity with him.Marriage is a sacred things.It’s not a commodity or another way to show of our prosperity.

    • Kasih uang lebih gampang daripada kasih hadiah, karena hadiah itu harus cari yang sesuai. Kalau ga sesuai nggak bisa dikembalikan pula karena nggak ada receipt kado, nggak kayak di luar negeri.

      Kalau saya lebih prefer dikasih perhiasan *hahaha*

  2. Ditempatku sini jarang yg ngasih duit, alasannya gak ada kesan yg ditinggalkan dari wedding gift yg diberikan klo kasih duit. Klo aku sih pengennya dikasih peralatan daput tapi bukan yg abal-abal πŸ˜€ .

    • Aku setuju, emang uang nggak ada personal touch nya. Btw, kalau di Basque country, uang hadiah ternyata diberikan secara kreatif, jadi pengantinnya harus usaha ngambil uang. Ada yang diberikan dalam karung dengan serpihan kayu sisa gergaji-an.

  3. Sudah lamaaa banget gak pernah naik Lion air.. kayaknya jaman duluu waktu tiket garuda masih mahal banget banget aja jarang apalagi sekarang.. kalau bawa anak dan naik lion air? Wassalam deh

      • Saya lagi scrolling blognya nih.. i loove the way you wrote the stories hehehe

      • So you’re OL now. Hai ai.. aku dhira, (almost) 30 y.o, mom of 2, wife of some1, currently loosing my personal identity πŸ˜€

      • Karena jadi mamanya ini dan istrinya itu.. nah si (sementara) bungsu ini nempel sekali jd bubdanya sedang galau πŸ˜€

      • Iyah haha..
        Hows ireland ai? Betah?.. aish jd ingin ngobrol yg proper, masa iyeee d komen begini haha

      • Aku kalau jam kerja nggak ngobrol *tapi gak ada boss*; di YM aja ailtje juga boleh.

        Masih di Jakarta, belum pindah ke Irlandia. Masih Agustus ini pindah. Mau ikut pemilu presiden dulu *hohohoho*

      • Aku gak tau klo pindah ke eropa betah gak ya.. soalnya aku suka pilek hahahahaha…
        Nah aku donlot ym dulu deh!
        Ah kamu nanti rindu sama thing indonesian like : gorengan, pembantu, toilet kotor, endesbre

      • Yang jelas aku akan rindu sama masakan berbumbu dan nasi (padahal kalau di Indonesia makannya nasi). Disana masakannya polos semua, tanpa rasa. Kalau buat yang gak bisa masak kayak aku sih gampang mbak, tinggal panggang jadi. Aku lari dulu ya! Have a nice evening!

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