My Malay community is obsessed with “wedding contests,” and it’s driving everything out of control

They do anything to outshine every wedding that was ever held in the village.

When the first family member of my generation getting married, I finally had the chance to be at the family’s meeting for the first time. But I wasn’t exactly participating in the discussion between the two families. As a close relative, my only duty was to serve tea for them while they were exchanging suggestions on how to organize the wedding for the future newlyweds.

I was eager to listen to their ideas. As I served tea for each of them, I focused on their conversation about budgeting and expenses, dowries from each side of the families (one of wedding customs in Malay culture), guest list, and date, time and the venue of the wedding. And there was also dos and don’ts of wedding planning, which was quite an opener for me. Who knows, it could be a useful lesson for me. Especially when I am going to get married one day.

But the most interesting part of the meeting?

Their discussion about other people’s previous weddings in the village.

[bctt tweet=”It amazed me of how the aunts of the families could remember every little detail of other people’s weddings. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

It amazed me how the aunts could remember every little detail of other people’s weddings. I was surprised to hear when they mentioned few receptions that were held years ago!

They compared each of the weddings and criticized almost every single aspect while planning for a grander and more glorious one. If someone had five different types of food served at their wedding, they wanted seven for themselves.

If somebody had seven layers of wedding cake in their receptions, they’d make it nine, or even more than that.

So, if another family had a grand arrival of the newly-wed couple with a Lamborghini or Ferrari, would they consider using a horse carriage or helicopter? Yes, possibly! They’d do anything to outshine every wedding that was ever held in the village.

I couldn’t help but chuckled with their overenthusiasm to compete with other villages through the wedding. But I had no say at all in the matter, nor did I care less about their excessive planning.

As long as they’re happy with their decisions, who was I to judge?

[bctt tweet=”They’d do anything to outshine every wedding that was ever held in the village.” username=”wearethetempest”]

When the long-awaited day finally arrived, it was just exactly what they planned. A super grand and lavish wedding, a worthy topic of conversation for the whole village. During the reception, I noticed most women inspecting the celebration and whispering to each other.

That actually made me wonder: were they planning to emulate this wedding?

A year later, another cousin of mine announced his decision to get married.

There would be another meeting, which also came with another competition. Probably the biggest one since I knew my cousin’s mother too well – a proud and self-aggrandizing one when it comes to herself and her family. Before the meeting even started, I could picture the wedding already in my head. It would be defined with these words – expensive and extravagant.

For her, nothing succeeds like excess.

I had to do my duty as a close relative, serving tea to each of the meeting participants together with my sisters and other female cousins. As expected, it was no different than the first one I’ve been a year before. Besides the expenses and basic wedding stuff like guest list and catering, they were comparing other people’s weddings as well. Neighbors, other relatives, and even friends’ weddings were included in the comparison.

Which, in the end, led to one goal: to create a spectacular wedding so great that it could eclipse the ones they mentioned.

[bctt tweet=”Spending a fortune for a huge wedding party is a necessity, even though it is beyond our own capability and affordability.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I could only shake my head in disbelief.

The day they’d dreamed of came true. Everyone was utterly stunned at the wedding. The decoration was as good as the royal weddings. It was held in the most expensive hotel in the town with top quality food served during the reception, which rarely done by our people in the village.

While people were admiring them for the effort of creating this sensational wedding, I was more astounded by their determination to rival with other weddings.

Apparently, it isn’t just in our family. A lot of people, not just in our community, perceives a wedding as some sort of popularity contest. It’s more like a hypocritical attempt to flaunt their wealth, while their actual life isn’t as superior as people believed during the wedding. Spending a fortune for a huge wedding party is a necessity, even though it is beyond our own capability and affordability.

Most weddings are more about showing off.

But certainly not my wedding.

I have a long way before I can start my journey to the altar. But one thing I’m sure about; my wedding is not meant to be showcasing and wasting money. It’s more of a special, memorable day that binds me and my loved one into an unbreakable bond, a start of our new life together.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. A simple ceremony and party, celebrated with our close families, relatives, and friends with humble food and good music will be more than enough for me.