Our Indonesian Wedding
I debated for a long time about whether to post this or not, but it’s an important part of our life, so I figured it was worth sharing. This isn’t our usual post – just a little inside scoop as to who we are and what we’re all about.
Still with me? Awesome. We’re going to be friends! And in order for us to start this relationship, I want to give you a little insight as to where Berty and I come from.
Berty moved to the U.S. from Indonesia in 2004. I (Emily) was born in Washington state. We met for the first time in college, dated, and eventually married in 2016! We dove head-first into a multi-cultural, interracial, polylingual lifestyle! Also, did you know that interracial married wasn’t LEGAL until 1967?? I’m so glad we don’t live 50 years ago.
A big happy wedding? Not so fast….
One problem with all of this: with the United States having many restrictions on foreign travelers, Berty’s parents and brother couldn’t get travel visas to come to the U.S. After submitting hundreds of dollars of payment with an application, there’s merely a 15% chance you’re application will even get accepted. Not to mention they are EXPENSIVE! And yup – no refund.
Even with this bad news, we continued with our plans to get married here in Seattle. In addition, we also made plans to visit Indonesia and have a celebration in Jakarta!
Berty has a small Indonesia community here in the Northwest. It was such a pleasure to see them at our wedding – and wearing tradition Indonesia clothes too! Our wedding in Seattle was filled with joy, dancing, delicious Indonesian food, and the most supportive people anyone could ask for. 🙂
PREPARING FOR INDONESIA
We surprised my mom with a ticket at Christmas to join us for part of our Indonesian adventure. After seeing that, my sister and brother wanted to join too – and bought tickets! I was very excited to have my family experience a country I can now call my own. This would be their first time visiting a foreign country.
To prepare for the wedding celebration, we received matching batiks as a gift from Berty’s Aunt. Batik fabric is a traditional fabric of Indonesia with patterns reflecting different cultures, traditions, and regions of the county. It is typical for someone to wear Batik for special occasions. Berty’s entire family (and mine!) would be wearing the exact same thing.
As far as planning goes, I was very distant from the process. Berty’s parents and family graciously made all of the arrangements. I knew that it was going to be held at Berty’s grandmother’s house, and lots of family would be there. After planning an entire American wedding just months before, it was kind of a relief to just go with the flow! Berty and I looked forward to being a part or a larger Indonesia tradition and we hopped on the plane with high spirits. Indonesia, here we come!
THE DAY OF THE CELEBRATION
To begin with, none of us, including my whole family, knew what to expect. We put on our matching Batiks, naively got in the car, and did not prepare for the 200+ people we would shake hands with that evening. I assumed that since the celebration was held in a family home, the guest list included only family and close friends.
There was a HUGE turnout. When we arrived, we noticed that chairs covered the inside of the house and spilled out on to the street. The family blocked off the entire block for the celebration. Neighbors nearby and in the surrounding area were all invited. Wow!
Here’s a lowdown of what the night looked like:
Berty’s father, Robert, introduced us to the family (all sitting inside the house) and welcomed everyone to the celebration. My brother, Joseph, read a passage from the Bible in English and afterwards someone else read the same passage in Bahasa Indonesia.
The pastor presented a short sermon on the topic of love. Following the sermon, Berty and I knelt down in front of him, and the elders in the family prayed over us and our future together. It was a very humbling experience.
Nasi Tumpeng (Feeding The Hosts The First Bite)
Similar to a wedding cake, the Nasi Tumpeng is cut together as husband and wife, and then ceremonial served to the hosts of the evening. This dish is made of yellow rice in a cone-shape and is decorated with various other edibles. Feeding our parents is a symbol of our gratitude and thanks for their unending love and support.
Immediately following the Nasi Tumpeng ceremony, a dancing group from Jakarta came together and performed for us. They are a group that practices and preserves the traditional dances from Manado, on the island of Sulawesi. We enjoyed watching them perform and after a few songs with the group then they invited us to come and dance with them!
Hand Shaking / Thanks
After the dance performances, we then stood in a greeting line and shook hands with every single guest. The line included my family on one side, me and Berty, and Berty’s family (Mom, Dad, brother, brother’s fiance). I was truly grateful for the outcome of support and love we received this evening, so shaking hands was an absolute pleasure.
Later, after eating a huge buffet of delicious food, and hours more of dancing, we went home at midnight. Celebrating a short version of an Indonesian wedding was a really fun experience. I am lucky to be brought into a multi-cultural family, and feel SO welcomed into the community. Berty’s mom and dad even told my family – “now that you are wearing Batik, you are official part of our Indonesian family!”
This trip meant a lot to us. We had a great time hopping around to different islands, but we spent most of our time with family. This was important to us because we want our children to grow up knowing both Indonesia and American culture. We believe that it’s important to honor both our cultures and traditions. Berty and I are lucky to have a loving family halfway across the world. Meanwhile, we are already planning our next trip back – and it will be in July 2017 for Berty’s brother wedding!
Thanks so much for reading this very long post!
Berty and Emily
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