Balinese Wedding Regalia

Photo of Balinese Wedding Regalia

Bali weddings are a beautiful affair and celebrated for days.  They do not take place in a temple, but rather at the home of the family.  I truly don’t know much about them, but have always loved to see the ornamental gateway put up at the home where

Entrance of a Balinese Wedding

Entrance of a Balinese Wedding

the wedding is to be held.  So, the other day when we were eating at one of our favorite local warungs, I noticed the wedding ornamentation and decided to very discreetly cross the street to take a few photos.  There was the most beautiful photo of the couple at the gateway, and the family courtyard was filled with linen-covered chairs and tables.  I could not take my eyes off of it all.  I should know better than to think I could sneak up on a Balinese!  They are some of the most aware and curious people you will ever meet!  So, I was caught in the act of taking photos!  But luckily, the Balinese are also some of the nicest and most inviting people you will ever meet, yet, I was still taken off guard when some gentleman carrying cokes in  invited us down the driveway to see the full vision ( to this day we do not know who he was – Marc called him the ‘Soda Man’)!  We tried to decline, but he was insistent and walked a few paces ahead to announce to the family that we were coming in to look.  What he told us (his English was excellent) is that the actual ceremony happens in the morning – this one was at 10am – and includes close family and friends. Then, in the afternoon and flowing into the evening, the new couple receives guests.  Since this was about 1:30pm, the couple was not present, but the gentleman told us that we must come back after 3pm to take a photo with of the bride and groom.  Once again, we politely declined, and yet again, he insisted and said that everyone comes and there would be some Australians there (aka: other white people!).

Marc's sarong for the wedding

Marc’s sarong for the wedding

As we left, we discussed that this might be a great opportunity to be wall-flowers and gain perspective of a slice of Balinese life we had not yet seen.  During our last Bali trip, I bought Marc his very own ceremonial sarong, and he was suddenly excited that he could wear it to the wedding reception!  So, it was settled – we would return to a stranger’s wedding that evening.

In the hours between, I ran out on the scooter to determine what was appropriate as a gift and purchase something to bring, then we both showered and dressed (it was the first time I wore makeup in a very long time!) As sunset approached, we made our way back to the home of the wedding thinking that we were plenty late enough to simply melt into the crowd and be ‘wall flowers’ . . . but best laid plans!  When we arrived, there were very few scooters out front – not a good sign.  We drove past the entrance and saw no one in the courtyard except the couple and maybe 2 or 3 others.

The couple and their family at the reception

The couple and their family at the reception

Now, this is where Marc and I differ. I am game for anything and was happy to simply walk in and explain ourselves and say hello. Marc is more under-stated and felt completely embarrassed to enter a home of strangers.  So as we stood on the side of the road negotiating our next tactic, we found ourselves surrounded by a group of those ‘aware, curious Balinese’.  No doubt they saw Marc’s sarong and assumed we were coming in!  I was thrilled . . . Marc was mortified!  I told him I was going in and he could do what he wanted – so of course he followed in!  I explained as we were being escorted in that “a family member” invited us to come by and in fact would not take no as an option.  The wedding couple, in full regalia but looking exhausted, welcomed us in, but since there was no one else there and they did not speak any English, it got awkward real fast!  I explained in my best broken Bahasa Indonesian that we would come back later . . . clearly we were early . . . and we quickly exited.  Surprisingly, Marc seemed invigorated by the experience and their kindness, so we decided to head to the beach for sunset and return as the party got started, presumably after dark.

Couple's photo at the wedding's entrance

Couple’s photo at the wedding’s entrance

Sunset was fun because our regular beach warung had never seen us in anything but bathing suits, so with Marc in his sarong and me in my makeup, we took a lot of ribbing.  Sadly, when we returned to the wedding home after dark, there was still very little activity, so Marc labeled it a Dud, and we were quick to scurry away before being detected by those ‘aware and curious Balinese’!  I am so glad we got a glimpse into this special experience and the fullness of Balinese hospitality.  I don’t think we will crash any more weddings, but we sure hope there will be another opportunity to see one – preferably with someone we know!