Considered one of the top wedding spots in Southeast Asia, Malaysia has lots to offer couples looking for that special destination theme!
This article was written by ExpatGo contributor Jennifer Dawson.
Prior to the pandemic-prompted travel restrictions, Malaysia had been fast becoming a choice wedding destinations for expats and tourists alike, with venues such as Paradise 101 in Langkawi, Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan, and Cenang Beach and Tanjung Rhu in Langkawi boasting beautiful sea views, outdoor reception settings, and gorgeous palm tree-studded beaches to take stunning wedding photos.
Rules and regulations are also reasonable and easy to follow, which is an added bonus for expats wishing to tie the knot in Malaysia. Take note of the following administrative steps, and discover more about national traditions that may add a little magic to your big day.
Couples wishing to marry in Malaysia should first obtain a Single Status Declaration from their embassy/embassies. Pertinent documentation should be in English or Malay; if it isn’t, it should be translated by a legal translator. Next, take your Single Status Declarations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Putrajaya for legalization and authentication. The next step involves registering your marriage at one of the many National Registration Department branches.
It’s always good to check what documentation they require, but generally, you will need your Single Status Declaration, passport (and photocopies of your personal information page, date of arrival, and departure card, if applicable), birth certificate, and a document called the JPN.KCO2 (known as the Marriage Application Form and Statutory Declaration). You should also bring a colour photograph each, similar to a passport photo (it should be 32mm by 38mm in size, and feature the person sitting or standing before a blue background).
THE LEGAL CEREMONY
For your official ceremony, you will need to have two witnesses aged 21 or over. You and your witnesses will need to bring your passports, as well as the official marriage registration document. You will be expected to wear semi-formal or formal wedding attire, and if you want to wear a white wedding dress or suit, this is the perfect time to do so. Expats often favor fabrics such as chiffon, lace, or silk for brides’ dresses, and fabrics like Barathea, mohair, or wool for grooms’ suits.
Because you may be celebrating a traditional Malay wedding after your ‘official wedding’, going for traditional Western materials is a great way to ensure you have two sets of wedding photographs that express both your culture of origin and ancient Malay traditions.
THE FAMILY CELEBRATION
In Malaysia, Malay-Muslim weddings are usually divided into two parts: the akad nikah (the legal side of marriage, including the contract) and the big family celebration (called the majilis bersanding or enthronement). For the family celebration, the couple decorate their hands with henna, wear delicately crafted silk attire, and feed each other yellow rice. The event essentially turns the bride and groom into king and queen for a day. During the ceremony (which is officiated by a mosque leader or similar official), religious oaths are recited, and the groom is informed of his duties as a husband. Important traditions include gift-giving between the groom and bride.
If you prefer to celebrate another type of wedding with traditions from your own country, or if you wish to celebrate a wedding according to another religious tradition, you can do so by contacting your local church or institution.
Malaysia is an ideal wedding destination, but also the perfect backdrop for an expat wedding. Requirements are few, and essentially involve obtaining a declaration of single status, followed by the registration of the marriage. Expats can then opt to celebrate a traditional wedding, either following the Malay or other local tradition or establishing one of their own. There are officiants from all religions, so finding the right one for you is simply a matter of asking for recommendations or conducting an online search.
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