Indonesian Custom Creates Colorful Wedding

Each region of Indonesia celebrates a wedding with its own unique customs and costumes.

Bride Vini Muslimov Sebastianputra and groom Azwirman, who goes by, who goes by Azwir, hosted a traditional Padang ceremony, one of the most colorful and festive, chosen because it stems from the bride's home region.

Such Indonesian celebrations are filled with traditional dance and Indonesian gamelan music, which is composed of drums and flutes. Women wear intricately designed dresses and guests eat spicy foods, displayed around the room like fine artwork.

Azwir, a government worker from Kalimantan, an island in northern Indonesia, was introduced to Vini, a dentist from Jakarta, through a mutual friend of her father's. They are both 30.

After a few phone calls and three in-person dates, Azwir asked Vini's father for her hand in marriage. They have been dating for seven months. Azwir proposed on the 23rd day of the month, but Vini asked him to propose again because she is superstitious, believing the number three is unlucky. She officially accepted the proposal the second time, on the 24th of the month.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation and, as Muslims, Vini and Azwir's wedding is infused with both religious and Indonesian influences.

Before the ceremony, Vini sat in the dressing room, getting her hair and makeup done. "I look like Snuffalufagus," she said, comparing her eyelash extensions to the "Sesame Street" mammoth.

It took her two hours to get fully dressed.

Following Indonesian tradition, the couple exchanged vows in June in a smaller private ceremony the night before the more traditional, lavish event so they could see each other before the vow exchange, without having to worry about superstition.

Azwir joined her in the dressing room as she put together the final touches of her wedding attire. Both of their outfits were intricately designed, hot pink and baby blue in color, with elaborate gold thread trim.

"I'm wearing a West Sumatra traditional dress and it's from Padang," Vini said.

Vini's headdress was stunning, lavishly dripping with 99 pieces of gold jewels, which shimmered as she moved.

"If I think it's heavy, it's heavy, but I'll try to not think it's heavy," said Vini, cautiously turning her head. "I must be careful, very, very careful with my head."

Strings of fresh smelling jasmine flowers dangled in a layer underneath the jewels, contouring the lines of her face.

Azwir watched her closely, smiling. His outfit is not complete without a sword tucked in his belt. "He's a man, a husband," Vini said. "He has to protect his wife."

Vini asked Azwir to draw his sword and open it, speaking in Bahasa, the Indonesian tongue. As he did, she laughed. "Small one, but be careful with this," she said, referring to its jagged edge.

At 7 p.m. sharp, the beat of the welcome drums grew louder as Vini and Azwir made their grand entrance into the massive ballroom. They walked slowly down a red carpet, followed by their family and close friends, as traditional drums, or "gendang" in Indonesian, beat in rhythm to announce their arrival and wish them and their families happiness.

A yellow umbrella, symbolizing the family of the Kingdom in Padang, was held up behind the couple. Vini and Azwir are considered royalty for the day.

As they made the way to their seats on the stage, dancers greeted them with a bow and offerings in hand. Several traditional dances were performed for the couple as guests gathered around for a closer look.

The first dance was the Tari Persembahan, or dedication dance, to welcome the bride and groom into their new lives as wife and husband. Next was the Tari Gelombang, or wave dance — a reminder to the couple that there will be some "waves" or obstacles and difficulties the couple will have to face in their new lives together.

The dancers tossed rice toward the bride and groom, wishing them a prosperous life from Allah.

Lit and lavishly decorated the color of gold, the stage was shaped in the style of a traditional Padang House and was called Rumah Gadang, or big house.

The families of the bride and groom were announced and took pictures with the couple, before it was time for prayer.

Next was the Tari Lilin, or candle dance. The music softened and the women dancers balanced flickering candles on saucer plates in their arms as they glided through the room to the rhythm of the music. This dance was a symbol of how they can achieve their aspirations of married life together.

Another traditional dance called the Tari Piring, or plate dance, was performed as children sat, lining the dance floor. This dance represented the idea that the wife and husband should work together to support the household. The bride and groom sat together on the stage, exchanging smiles and whispers during the show.

Piles of food covered the tables, offering both Western and Indonesian cuisine. The rice, satay, fish and vegetables were filled with the spices that make Indonesian food famous.

With more than 2,000 invited guests, the receiving line took a while to get through. In the morning, the bride and groom headed off to Bali for their honeymoon.