This past week, I attended my very first Chinese-Indonesian wedding reception!
Since I had never read anything about Chinese-Indonesian wedding receptions, nor been to one before, I didn’t know what to expect.
First, let me just say that, while Chinese-Indonesian wedding receptions are very different than their western counterparts, they are very fun and, even with all the fancy decorations in place, pretty relaxed.
Here is what I learned about Chinese-Indonesian wedding receptions:
It’s a standing occasion.
Everyone stands the entire time, including as you eat, so wear comfortable shoes!
Wait for the bride and groom.
The parents of the bride and groom, as well as the maid of honor and the best man, will walk down the aisle before the bride and groom are presented.
Cut the fake cake with a sword.
I still don’t get this part, but after the bride and groom were presented, they “cut” this beautiful, fake cake with a sword.
Hurry up and wait.
Once the bride and groom have cut the cake, they will return to the front of the room. This is when you attempt to make a “queue” to shake hands or give air kisses to the bride and groom (and their parents).
Based on what I experienced, you should rush to this line, because it’s only after this is complete that you can eat! At the wedding I attended, the bride and groom were on a stage, and everyone in the line had to climb three steep steps, about two people wide, in order to queue properly.
There were hundreds of people at this wedding, and Indonesia doesn’t really “do” lines, so as you can imagine, this was organized chaos. In fact, as I was attempting to climb these steps, a woman (perhaps mid-40s, hijab clad, wearing a beautiful gown, perfect make up) grabbed my butt with both her hands so that she could effectively cut between myself and the people behind me. That’s the kind of determination there is to be at the front of the line. Seriously.
Eat around the edges.
At the wedding I attended, there was a wide range of food. One of my Indonesian friends helped me navigate this situation. She explained that you should always go to the edges first, since that is where the special food was. In the center was the buffet, and there had to be enough food there for everyone, but the more fancy food around the edges could be gone fast. At the wedding I attended, the specialty food included Lobster, Korean BBQ, Duck, and Beef Wellington, to name a few.
Don’t leave until the group photo has been taken.
A stereotype that I have found to be true? Indonesians love photos. Weddings mean formal and informal snaps, so be prepared for this event with your most dazzling smile.
Most likely, you know the bride or groom because you are part of a group– family, friends, co-workers, church, that sort of thing. Even if the reception is technically over, it’s not really over until your group has been called for a group photo with the bride and groom.
Have you ever been to a wedding that was unlike its western counterpart?
Write about it in the comments!