My Malay family wanted to control my sister’s wedding, she wasn’t having it.

Our families felt betrayed.

My sister and her fiancé already had it all planned; a modern but romantic wedding, with just a slight touch of tradition in the celebration. But unfortunately, not everyone was pleased and on board with their ideas. While they were dreaming of their big happily-ever-after day, some people were ready with their own suggestions and demands.

They were already expecting a perfect wedding for my sister since her engagement. A perfect, conventional wedding full of traditions and cultural customs.

My sister had her eyes on a villa-like pavilion at the top of the hill and dreamed of holding her wedding reception there. From the ballroom hall, everyone could see the breathtaking view of the whole city surrounded the pavilion, which added more to the wedding appeal. There was also a small chamber, suitable for their akad nikkah ceremony. The place was more than perfect for their wedding and they couldn’t have asked for more.

[bctt tweet=” While they were dreaming of their big happily-ever-after day, some people were ready with their own suggestions and demands.” username=”wearethetempest”]

But it wasn’t what everyone expected.

Traditionally, the ceremony was supposed to be done in the bride’s house. For Muslims, it was more proper for them to hold the ceremony in the mosque. Aunts and uncles from both family sides were surprised that they picked none of these venues. Most of them disliked the idea and questioned my sister’s decision. They kept chanting ‘It’s tradition!’ every time they had the chance to my sister and her groom.

Fortunately, they’d made up their mind and nothing could change it. But that wasn’t the only conflict faced by the bride and groom and their family.

My sister’s other idea for her dream wedding was to have a Jazz band at the reception. This, of course, completely strayed from the usual cultural entertainment that we have in a traditional Malay wedding – a bendir or framed drum performance. To my sister, this kind of entertainment wasn’t suitable for the concept of their modern wedding at all.

This time they didn’t just question her decision. They tried to persuade her, especially my uncle since he already hired a group of bendir performance without her knowledge. They wanted it to at least be included in their wedding reception because it was a must for every wedding in our family. As they kept saying: ‘Because it’s tradition!’

At this point, my sister and her groom were already overwhelmed with the unsolicited suggestions and demands. They managed to stop the dispute and the family (involuntary) went along with the Jazz band plan. But the intervention didn’t end here.

[bctt tweet=”As they kept saying: ‘Because it’s tradition!'” username=”wearethetempest”]

Our families had one more wish that they couldn’t say no anymore – the guest list.

They would rather celebrate their love, commitment and a new start to their married life privately, only with their close relatives, and few friends. They never wished for a big wedding, full of guests that barely even showed up in their life. After all, everything was paid for by themselves without any financial help from their parents. So why should they feed those people they hardly recognized?

They received a strong reaction from almost everyone. Along with the “It’s tradition!” argument, they insisted on dictating the list of guests to include whoever they wished. Inviting everyone related was a must, and by “related” they meant those who were close to them, but not necessarily to the bride and the groom. Leaving any of them out would be completely unacceptable.

For days, my sister and her fiancé were bugged with “it’s tradition” and “what will people say.” The pressure from our overbearing families was too much to handle and in the end, they had to agree. At that time, they realized that it was impossible to have a low-key wedding.

[bctt tweet=”The pressure from our overbearing families was too much to handle and in the end, they had to agree.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Their long-awaited wedding day came. It wasn’t as perfect as they planned. But being married to each other was their biggest wish of all things they ever wanted for in this wedding. And they were grateful enough for that.

The interference of our family didn’t just dilute the excitement they were supposed to feel. The wedding day was supposed to be about them and not the traditions. My sister didn’t completely abandon all of them; there were still customary dowries according to our culture, henna night and other customs before the wedding day. But the families of both sides still felt as if all tradition had been cast aside.

Perhaps this is what I should keep in mind from my sister’s experience; my wedding day, one day would be expected to fit within our cultural norm and traditions.

They might try to take charge in coordinating my wedding, but I will never let my right to enjoy my day to be forfeited by them. After all, a wedding is supposed to be a celebration of love, not just tradition.