Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

If you have ever been invited to an Indonesian wedding, you will see that each ethnicity group has different wedding ceremony, dress, food, and traditional dance. It is intriguing seeing the graceful dancers pave a way for the groom and bride to make their artistry entrance. You can see the headpiece (wedding crown) sparkles as they slowly walk on the aisle.

While it’s not always glamorous, there are still some commonalities that Indonesian weddings everywhere seem to share; they send at least hundreds to thousands of invitations. The reason for this is because an Indonesian wedding is seen as a platform for gathering and reunion. Way too often, it is more about the guests than it is about the bride and the groom. You will notice that the majority of those invitations come from the parents’ distant family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. It is also mandatory for you to invite your whole neighborhood as a sign of respect, or someone will most likely get offended for not being on the guest list.

In a Muslim majority country where premarital sex is a moral issue and a taboo subject, it is important to let people around you know that your marriage is “legit”. When you hold a small one, rumors about the possibility of its being a shotgun wedding might spread. Unfortunately, those who are not on board with how weddings are held in Indonesia cannot handle the social pressure. Others just happen to like a big wedding because, let’s be honest, it’s pretty! You get to be the center of attention for the day and it brings such pride to host such a big event.

However, here are some reasons why I can never approve Indonesian wedding and why it’s okay not to continue this tradition:

The Guests

I can guarantee that in Indonesia, you don’t always know the people who come to your wedding. I once got invited to my mom’s junior high school friend’s daughter’s wedding, someone from college that I talked to once, or someone from elementary school that I forgot existed. I have witnessed my mom’s inviting her high school friends to my sister’s wedding and even the sellers in a farmer market from whom she likes to buy. It’s all kinds of weird because you will see many strangers congratulating you on your wedding day and then disappear from your life the next day.

Most of the guests are not even expected to attend the ceremony and many decide to go to the wedding reception straight away. Normally it’s only your close friends and family who will bother showing up early for this, and some well-mannered guests. However, the large reception area allows guests to wander around during the processional, talk to people, or take selfies with their friends, making it the furthest from being sacred.

Wedding can be expensive for the guests too because you and this person now live hundreds of miles apart and not even talk to each other for years. It feels rude to decline it, but every time you show up, you only get to congratulate and see the them for 5-10 seconds. Your guests will pay for gas, a wedding gift, the dress that they show up with. Therefore, I personally believe it would be more ethical not to invite them in the first place, eliminating the chance of putting them into so much trouble.

Moreover, since there are too many guests being invited, the guests will have to get in line to shake hands with the bride and the groom. If the wedding you go to is crazy crowded, it will take you up to an hour for them to say their best wishes.

The hosts can hardly enjoy anything from their wedding, because it’s rude to eat and take a break where you have people waiting in line to congratulate you. So, they will have to wait until fewer guests show up, some even have to starve themselves. The same lines also appear in buffet areas, and to make matter worse, you don’t get a table, just few chairs available for the elderly. Except for the V.I.P guests off course, for whom full set tables and personal buffet is provided. These seats are usually saved for your parents’ prominent business associates or your rich relatives.

So, is it that crazy to want a more sacred private wedding with people whom you care and will actually feel emotional watching you get married?To actually spend more time with your guests and have them nicely-seated?

I also understand that people use their wedding reception to share their happiness by providing a service to as many people in their lives as possible. It is also a good thing to give your guests a chance to reconnect with their old friends. But these practices at the same time give so much pressure that many people postpone to get married because they can’t pay for the wedding, or end up putting themselves in such a huge debt.

Wasteful

I hate food waste. I hate the plastics generated from water cups, decoration, and souvenir wrapper.

The food being wasted in Indonesia is higher than it is being produced that one person will averagely waste 315 kg of food per year. This is outrageous considering that there are 25.67 million people here who still live under poverty. That’s more than the entire Australia population!

The ugly truth about wedding buffet is that it produces tremendous amount of food waste. People are tempted by a nice assortment of food but we’ve only got so much room in our stomach. They want to try everything and end up not finishing them all. Because of the number of guests, they also need to serve it in smaller portions, and thousand of plastic straws and cups are thrown away in just a couple of hours.

Since, there are many guests coming, the souvenirs or favors are usually not something very thoughtful. These items will end up at someone else’s storage unit or worse, trash bin. They come in plastic wrappers or nets that are also thrown away. Inviting fewer people will actually give you a chance to pick up something useful and more environmentally-friendly because you can work with less strict budget.

Debt

As I mentioned earlier, many couples/parents (depends on who pays for the wedding) will spend their life saving, take a loan, use their credit card(s), or even sell their belongings to pay for the wedding. This does not only hurt you financially but also mentally as the complexity of your wedding will also match the level of stress. There is no absurd way of celebrating your commitment and start a new life than by making a reckless spending. The money that you can use to buy an experience, education, or a down-payment to your new home is gone for something that goes by so quickly.

It is nice when you have set aside a budget and you want to spend it on your close people and show your gratitude, but with an Indonesian wedding, this also mean that you will ask them to wait in line just to get to see you on your special day and to get into another line to eat, all while standing up. The V.I.P guests aren’t those who are the closest to you, they are not those who hold the most special place in your life either.

If the goal is to share happiness on your happy day, there are plenty of activities to choose from; holding private events or donate your money for the cause that you support. It is crazy to blow away the money that you earn by working for thousands of hours (or sometimes the money that you don’t even have) in just several hours.

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