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Dowry Advice for Mixed Marriages

Thanks to those members of the Expat Forum who posted the following bits of advice in response to a question of what is an appropriate dowry for an expat man to give and Indonesian woman upon their marriage.

Depends on what is meant by dowry ... because I didn't offer / give any dowry when I got married. I did have to hand over Rp. 10,000 as a token during the marriage rights and that is stated in my marriage book.

As I know there is no standard of how much dowry should be given. A bride can ask it from the groom, as long as groom can afford it. I asked for a dowry from my husband around 400swedish kronor (400.000 IDR) as the symbol of the first date when we met.

Having been to many Indonesian weddings over the years, both family and non family, the dowry money has almost always been spent on the bedroom furniture. Two marriages for myself, the same. For those who want a standard, I'd say that the cost of a new set of bedroom furniture is more than fair ... say Rp 15-20 juta. Depends on one's lifestyle, I guess.

Traditional Muslim dowry would include: gold jewelry, a Koran, a prayer rug, prayer clothing (mekinah) for the woman and gold jewelry. The "value" of the dowry is in the gold .. the other items are symbolic.

Reverse dowry - It's usually based on ability to pay. Everytime I got married they gave me a dowry. ;-) Rich chicks rule!

If the family and this guy wants to be the talk of the kampung, they can arrange for twice the amount he is able to pay and have the family return half the amount when there aren't any prying eyes around. Then again, if he's a sweet talker like me, he can get it all back and then some.

In one of my marriages the bride-to-be decided the dowry went to her, not the parents. But I did pay for the wedding bash back at her parents house, complete with traditional dancers, singers and hidden beer kegs.

Maybe I need to come in from a different angle. Asking about the dowry is similar to asking how much one should tip in a given situation. It depends on the culture and tradition of the place you are in. I've heard that places in Australia don't require tips in restaurants unless the group exceeds a certain number of people. Other countries standards are based on a percentage of the bill.

Since my initial answer to the request for info, I've asked around to see if I might not have been putting out dated information. Most agree with my assessment in theory. Differences being the economic situation one finds oneself in. IE: A fellow in a kampung would not spend 15 juta on a dowry (equivalent to a new bedroom suite, expat / or upper middle class Indonesian) but would pay the price for kampung standard set of bedroom furniture.

For standards, (how much is fair?), a dowry equivelant to the price of said suite will suffice. Doesn't mean one has to buy it, especially if one has already been purchased.

As for Indonesian Muslim traditions, the dowry is part of the deal. May I interpolate here? Perhaps a family would not make issue about a "dowry" to an expat if it would cause problems. The family may feel that it is worth it in the long run to disregard that part as the overall plus to the family financially will more than balance the amount given to the wife if tradition prevailed.

Don't mean to ramble here, but it was a nice feeling to go to the fiance's family, dressed in my Friday best with the dowry and then experience all the follow up events that go with this ceremony. I have very fond memories of that.

I don't think so. Coming from a Christian family and I have noticed it at my cousins' wedding. A dowry isn't a must though, but if you can afford it, then why not? As Santi told that it could be just for a symbol. But, you'd better be ready before your bride's family asks you about it.

Mostly dowry is in form of cash. The amount should be discussed further with the bride or bride's family. If she's moslem, "seperangkat alat sholat" (goods needed for Muslim prayer - rug, clothing, koran) should be prepared also. Is the bride Javanese? if yes and if the wedding will be held in a Javanese style (adat jawa), be ready to prepare things like a set of cosmetics, shoes, bags, clothes/lingerie, etc. to be arranged in some baskets for the "seserahan" ceremony, 2-3 days before the big day.