May, 18 2016
When Your Wedding is Not Just Yours

In Indonesia, a wedding is a whole family affair, which can be problematic to many brides and grooms.

by Raisa FP
Issues // Relationship
Share:
They say that a wedding is every girl's dream. I have fantasized about my dream wedding since before I hit my twenties. I enjoyed browsing wedding blogs and watching real wedding footages; and I could imagine how fun it would be to plan my own wedding.
 
I once bought a wedding magazine and saw all the beautiful things that could be part of my wedding: the dress, the shoes, the hairstyle, the decorations, even the invitations. I know that marriage is more important than the wedding itself, but being happy and excited about the wedding is not a crime, right?
 
When I was in high school, I planned on getting married at 28, but now at 26 I am already preparing for my wedding this year. It’s true that I have found a man whom I really love and trust, but my parents also took part in pushing us to get married as soon as possible before I become “too old” and unmarried. Fortunately, my partner and I feel ready enough to accept their wishes, so we began this journey without hesitation.
 
Since then I’ve realized, however, that this is not only my wedding. This is an event that involves a lot of people, especially my mother, who make decisions on a lot of things.

I know in other parts of the world, a bride usually does everything for her wedding, helped by her maid of honor. She needs a maid of honor because she does everything herself and clearly needs some helps from someone she fully trusts. I do not really need one, because, without me asking, my parents finance everything, which gives them the power to choose anything they desire. They also tend to ask other people for opinions, particularly our relatives.
 


Having your family closely involved in your preparation is not necessarily a bad thing – they could be helpful and they could make the event more memorable.

But personal boundaries are largely unrecognized in Indonesia, and when their  opinions clash with your personal tastes, it does get annoying.
 
Ideally, a wedding is a once in a lifetime experience. But the way things are done in a typical Indonesian wedding, you may end up doing things or choosing things you do not want just to please everybody. For example, one of my relatives tells me I should wear henna instead of nail polish, though I prefer the latter. For her wearing henna represents our tradition, while wearing nail polish reflects western culture. It is not that I do not care about traditions, nor do I favor western lifestyle. It is just a matter of personal taste and what I see as beautiful. Everyone's taste is different. Plus, it will be on my own nails, my own body, after all.
 
I believe you are fully an adult when you can make your own big decisions. A  wedding is one of those decisions you make as an adult. But that is not always the case in Indonesia.

I know I am lucky enough that I am not objected to an arranged marriage. Still, I wish I did not have to compromise so much for the sake of tradition and family. Sometimes I even feel the need to reassure my self that this marriage is what I really want, and to remind myself that this wedding is based on my own commitment, not others.
 
What upsets me most is people’s lack of considerations of other people's happiness. In life, as a person, you should ask yourself whether you are happy with what you are doing. In any relationship, we should always ask others involved the same question. But in many Indonesian weddings like mine, people would give their opinions or judgment without once asking whether the main roles such as the bride and the groom would be happy about it.
 
In the movie Bride Wars, one bride tells her mom that she is wearing her mom's old wedding dress to make her mom happy and proud. But her mom replied, "I'm happy if you are happy. Sweetheart, you could get married in a brown paper bag, I wouldn't care. This is your day." That kind of message is the best thing a bride would like to hear.
 
I am grateful that for the most part, I still get to choose what I want for my wedding. But I realize that many women out there may not have their say for their own weddings whatsoever. And while I tolerate some involvements of my family and relatives, I would not let  anyone determine what I could do with my body. These include what I will wear and what I will do on my wedding day.
 
There is a saying that a bride is happiest on her wedding and that she is the queen of the day. I believe it is my job and every bride-to-be to make sure everything will make me – us – happy and satisfied, like a real queen, with real authority, sitting gracefully on her throne.

Raisa FP is a curious mind with an old soul. She is a graduate in International Relations but pursuing her passions in visual arts and psychology.