Malay-Muslim Weddings: Dress Code Deciphered

Dressing up for a wedding is serious business. Maryam Yusof sheds light on what to wear (and what not to) when invited to one.

I’m hitting that age where people have started to think about their future, apply for their houses and – gasp – get married. So when I received my first wedding invite, I was really excited. But soon, my excitement for the couple and the wedding was later replaced with anxiety; the thing is, dressing for Muslim weddings in tropical Singapore can be tricky.

Muslim weddings in this region usually have at least two parts: the akad nikah (solemnization) and the jemputan (reception). Each ceremony holds a different significance and atmosphere, and thus, each calls for a slightly different dress code.

The Akad Nikah

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This ceremony is typically held early in the day, and only close friends and family are invited. Since this is a religious ceremony, guests would observe a more muted, conservative dress code.

The Lunch Reception

If the akad nikah is held in the morning, it will be followed by an afternoon reception where up to a few thousand guests may be invited. There is no fixed itinerary; guests may come and go as they please within a certain time.

The baju kurung is modest, typically loose-fitting yet very feminine

In sunny Singapore, it may get very warm at such receptions, especially if they are not air-conditioned. You would therefore want to dress comfortably, even if you don’t intend to stay for long. Most guests will wear the baju kurung, which is a safe option. The two-piece baju kurung is modest, typically loose-fitting yet very feminine, and there are many attractive and modern ones out there in the market now, in all shades of colours and light materials.

An alternative option, however, would be to wear a loose tunic with a pair of pants, or a maxi skirt with a fashionable top.

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The Dinner Reception

Compared to the afternoon reception, this event is considered more formal, with fewer guests invited..

You could even wear a jalabiya, a popular option nowadays

The dress code here is often ‘dress to impress’. One’s baju kurung would come with more details, embellishments or embroidery. You could even wear a jalabiya, a popular option.

For accessories, the general rule is sky-high heels and smaller bags. And of course, bling is in trend!

Common Misconceptions

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For non-Muslims who may come across this article in hopes of finding out what’s appropriate to wear to a Muslim friend’s wedding, here are some common misconceptions:

Non-Muslims are expected to cover up

No, we don’t expect you to wear a hijab at the wedding! However, do try to dress conservatively, as a mark of respect.

You can’t wear black to a Muslim wedding

There aren’t any restrictions on outfit colours at Muslim weddings, unless the couple has made a special request. Muslims are not superstitious (no, wearing black does not signify death or bad luck to us) so go ahead, feel free to put on a black outfit if you like!

You don’t have to make an effort to dress up at a Muslim wedding

You would make an effort if invited to your friend’s place for a grand party, so do extend the same courtesy to the hosts by dressing up for their wedding.