Dowries Ceremony, Kupang Style

Indonesia really does have so many different customs and cultures when it comes to wedding and its processions following the big day. As I got to witnessed one up close and personal last week for my cousin’s wedding.

Here is the story of their Engagement/Dowries ceremony.

Although the wedding has been planned months previously. It is a custom in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) for the Groom’s family to come to the Bride’s family house bringing the dowries and ‘proposed’ a day before the wedding.

Unfortunately, by the time my aunt, her husband and myself arrived in the Groom’s house all dowries has been set up neatly in small decorated boxes. Some were already packed in brown papers. They were clothing, traditional Sabu hand-woven fabrics, bible, cosmetics, jewelries, shoes, lingerie, a box of betel nuts, tobaccos, betel nuts and pinang (areca nuts).

The Groom aka my young cousin was dressed up in traditional Sabu tribe outfit. His father (my uncle – husband of my late aunt) is originally from Sabu tribe thus this outfit.

Beautiful young girls dressed in yellow kebaya and pretty Kupang style skirt were in charged to bring those dowries. At around 4pm, all of us went to the Bride’s house. My cousin was told to wait in the car and someone will come and get him.


There were already plenty of people at the Bride’s house. Two middle aged men were acting as spokespersons from both sides of the families. The first man, spokesperson from Groom’s side of the family came by the front door of the Bride’s house where spokesperson from the Bride’s family were already waiting. Microphones in both their hands. They talks in Indonesian language heavily laden with Kupang dialects which I sometimes still doesn’t understand if spoken too fast.

The pretty young girls in yellow lined up with dowries on their hands by the door. Spokespersons did some more banter between themselves before the girls were allowed to come inside the house. Both grandparents of the Bride and the Groom were also asked to come into the living room.

The Groom’s spokesperson then went on to tell everyone a short bio of my cousin. From who his parents are, the date he was born leading up to that very day where he came to ask permission from the Bride’s family to take her hands in marriage. After the Bride’s spokesperson gave his approval for the wedding on behalf of the Bride’s family then my cousin was fetched from the car.

Mind you, both sides of the families had planned this wedding months in advance so it has been agreed on yet the symbolical event of bringing in the dowries were to formally asked the Bride’s permission to marry their daughter.

My cousin, the handsome young groom escorted by his aunts walked into the front yard and stopped right by the front door beside his spokesperson. He was asked by the Bride’s spokesperson if he really wish to marry the Bride.


After he answered, he was then told to come into the house and find his Bride to be. She was waiting in her already decorated bedroom. He walked in and take her hands into his before went back outside.


Some more words were exchanged before these two love birds were given seats to sat in front of guests.

After some prayers, guests were asked to enjoy dinner provided by the Bride’s family.

Photo sessions took place and I heard my name being called repeatedly by my uncle – father of the Groom. I even got to watch a ‘life demo’ of two ladies eating and chewing on the betel nut and tobacco. They did it in good spirit even offered me to give it a try, which I politely decline as the sights of it is pretty disturbing but hey it is part of their culture and I respect that.

Just a little after it gets dark, most guests were leaving. The committee quickly formed a circle with some plastic chairs  right in front of the couple. Spokesperson called out for the parents of the couple and respected elders to take a seat. They were giving marital advices to the soon-to-be husband and wife.

The event lasted for a couple of hours.

The night ended with exhaustion from everyone especially since I’ve been up since 3am to catch the first flight to Kupang but I was fully excited and eager to take part in this wedding. Coming up tomorrow is the story of the wedding ceremony and reception.

PS: My slideshow plugin is messed up so I will have to do some tweaking and hope it will works. If it doesn’t work please feel free to check the whole album I put on Facebook


  1. February 16, 2012 / 11:22 am

    Wow, what amazingly beautiful outfits and traditions! The Chinese have a similar dowry tradition, though my husband family didn’t have to participate since they weren’t Chinese. 🙂

  2. February 17, 2012 / 4:20 am

    I really enjoy reading your story about the wedding. My family and relative, we’re Chinese Indonesians, we do have similar dowry tradition. I was so thrilled when my husband agreed to participate in the Chinese dowry tradition. I didn’t ask him to do it, however, he was just being so sweet and nice to my family and relatives.

  3. October 15, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing new prospective of a different culture.

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