One Couple's Colorful and Bold Multicultural Wedding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Isabel Skau and Jeremy (Jez) Swanson first locked eyes across the churchyard in November 2019. Jez was busy organizing an event for the Sunday school

Isabel Skau and Jeremy (Jez) Swanson first locked eyes across the churchyard in November 2019. Jez was busy organizing an event for the Sunday school program and doesn’t quite remember meeting his beloved’s gaze for the first time. However, he does remember receiving a friend request from Isabel later and feeling called to accept it. “I needed to get to know her better!” he laughs. They were both invited to rock climbing with two other couples, leading to their first date. They went on a hike at Mori Point, and despite the miserable weather, they both enjoyed it. Just under two years later, Jez proposed to Isabel during another hike to see the sunset. He arranged for their mutual friends to decorate a trail bench with tea candles. Upon their arrival, he shared photos of the significant moments in their relationship and entries from his video journal that captured the progression of their love. Isabel said yes, and they were cheered on by nearby onlookers and their friends (hidden in a distant bush, of course!)

The couple planned a colorful celebration of their love and a unique blend of cultures, incorporating Chinese and Malaysian traditions into the day’s events. Isabel shared, “Our time in Malaysia was really special to us because not only were we having a wedding, but it was also Jez and his parents’ first time meeting my extended relatives. It was also my first time back in the country after several years,” explains the bride.

The wedding festivities began with a traditional Chinese gate-crashing ceremony. Jez had to pass a series of challenges to prove his love for Isabel before he could see her. Isabel’s aunt set up the challenges, which were all related to their Hakka heritage. The bride explains, “First, Jez and his groomsmen had to play a game involving catching poi, small fabric bags with rice. Then they had to pair up love phrases in Hakka Chinese to their translation in English and finally, the guys had to sing a verse from a love song in Mandarin loud enough for me to hear from the other room.”

Another significant wedding tradition important to the bride and groom was the tea ceremony, conducted in Hakka Chinese. The couple poured sweet tea for their older relatives as a sign of respect. Isabel adds, “We were led by a fast-talking MC, who spoke blessings over us as we poured the tea.”

The wedding banquet was similar to a Western reception but with uniquely Malaysian elements, such as traditional music and a dance troupe that taught guests a Malay dance. Isabel shares, “Another tradition unique to a Malaysian-Chinese wedding banquet was the toasts. In Malaysia and Singapore, all the guests yell ‘yam seng,’ drawing out the ‘yam’ part as long as possible before drinking.”

The couple created multiculturalism with their stunning decor, reflecting the different cultures within Malaysia. They had backdrops featuring Malay batik patterns, Indian mandalas, Chinese lanterns and the “double happiness” Chinese characters. The bride explains, “Our wonderful Aunty Audrey, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, along with Ai Event Decoration helped come up with design ideas for the decor, which we discussed over email and WhatsApp in the months before the wedding.”

Flowers played a significant role in the overall style and aesthetic of the wedding. Isabel and Jeremy chose red and pink flowers to complement the day’s color scheme. Verdant flowers filled the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces, in addition to adorning the ceremony backdrop and decorations like the welcome table and photo backdrop. The bride describes, “We placed flowers at the bottom of the lamps that lined the path in the grand ballroom.”

Wedding cakes are not traditionally part of a Chinese wedding, but it has become increasingly popular to perform a cake cutting in recent history. In this spirit, the newlyweds included a prop cake for a cake-cutting ceremony during their reception. Isabel reveals, “The cake itself was mostly solid except for a tiny, putty-like part for us to cut. Jez actually tried to cut the wrong place during the ceremony!”

Reflecting on their wedding, Isabel and Jeremy remember how special it was to have their families come together and celebrate their love. “Our main advice would be to make sure to make time to be with each other during the planning and the festivities!” they explain. “We found ourselves a little overwhelmed socially and realized we needed to take a day off and have a chance to just spend time with each other. Looking back, the day we got to sleep in and relax was one of the more memorable days of the trip!”

Bride Under Red Veil in Modern Red Chinese Qipao and Gold Drop Earrings
Bride Admiring Red Veil With Intricate Detailing in Red Qipao Dress, Red Shoes
Bride Under Red Veil Held By Her Parents in Formal, Traditional Hakka Chinese Attire
Mother of the Groom in Sequin Dress and Boutonniere With Son in Red Gin Jacket
Groom Participating in Traditional Gate-Crashing Games in the Bridal Suite Before Hakka Chinese Ceremony
Bride Serving Her Older Relatives During Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony, Red Attire
A stunning, intricate welcome sign to a couple's traditional Hakka Chinese wedding in Malaysia featuring artful flower illustrations, tassel accents and gold designs flanked by lanterns and floral arrangements.
Stage With Chairs for Bride and Groom, Gold Arch, Chinese Characters, Flowers and Backdrop
A reception banquet space in Malaysia with low lighting, Chinese lanterns, low floral arrangements with ample greenery, a red carpet, gold-arch decor and long tables with crisp white linens for a traditional Hakka Chinese dinner.
Emcee Speaking at Traditional Hakka Chinese Banquet With Bride and Groom on Stage
A Traditional Hakka Chinese Toast Led By Bride, Groom and Family
Dance Troupe Performing a Malay Dance at Traditional Reception Banquet in Malaysia
Bridesmaids and Family Clapping at the Bride's Dress Reveal Before a Traditional Chinese Ceremony
Guests and Family at Traditional Hakka Chinese Wedding Doing a Toast
Bride and Groom in Traditional Hakka Chinese Attire Cutting a Five-Tier, Colorful Cake