ALL IN: A customer watches as an attendant tallies up all her purchases at a stall in Pasar Pagi, Mangga Dua, West Jakarta, last week. (JP/Triwik Kurniasari)
Two months ago, Dhinie was at a loss. She had to get souvenirs for her wedding day in early August, but had no idea where to find 700 batik souvenirs for her batik-themed wedding.
"I was looking for cheap and simple but attractive wedding souvenirs. The most important thing was that the souvenirs would be useful for our guests," Dhinie, a 24-year-old resident of Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post last week.
One of Dhinie's friends told her the best place to try was Mangga Dua Morning Market (Pasar Pagi) on Jl. Asemka -- near Chinatown -- in West Jakarta.
Dhinie, with no better ideas, decided to follow her friend's suggestion and went to the market.
"My friend was right. I was surprised when I got to the market. There are many wedding souvenirs vendors there and I found all sorts of cheap batik souvenirs," she said.
"It took hours for my fianc* and me to find an outlet that offered reasonable prices and quality products.
"We finally chose purses, cell phone cases and fans for our wedding. The souvenirs cost only Rp 1,200 (about 15 US cents) each. We received our order in less than two weeks," Dhinie said.
Pasar Pagi, which was established in the 17th century by the Dutch colonial government, is well-known for its retail and wholesale shops.
The market also provides great solutions for couples who want to buy wedding souvenirs.
To get to the market, take the Kampung Melayu-Ancol busway corridor, get off at the Pademangan stop and take a bajaj to Pasar Pagi.
You can find many souvenir outlets on the lower ground floor of the market, open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Purses, key chains, lipstick and cell phone cases, manicure kits and beauty mirrors are just some examples of wedding souvenirs offered by souvenir vendors.
One of the most popular wedding souvenirs today is batik, according to Apin, a souvenir vendor in Pasar Pagi.
"Batik is the much-hyped theme nowadays. I sell batik souvenirs such as tiny purses, cell phone cases and bamboo fans," said Apin, 45, who owns a three-by-three stall.
"The souvenirs are affordable. I sell a batik purse for only Rp 4,000, and the price for a cellphone case is Rp 1,000. A small batik fan costs only Rp 750," she said.
"The price is much lower if people buy them in bulk."
She said she had her own employees to make the batik souvenirs.
Mugs are also popular as wedding souvenirs. Bridal couples can choose small or big mugs and have their names printed on them.
"The price for a small mug is Rp 2,500, and a big mug sells for Rp 4,500 to 5,000, depending on the pack. If the bridal couple wants to print their names on it, we will charge another Rp 50,000 per order," Apin said.
Apin said bridal couples today tended to choose simple and functional souvenirs.
Another wedding souvenir vendor, Intan, has observed the same trend.
"People prefer simple, practical and useful stuff, such as purses, mirrors, comb cases and manicure kits. Ceramics are a thing of the past," said Intan, who customers include shoppers from Malaysia and Singapore.
Selling wedding souvenirs has long been a big part of life for Apin and Intan. They both started to sell their souvenirs in Pasar Pagi in the early 1990s.
Apin, a resident of Teluk Gong, North Jakarta, sells souvenirs not only for bridal couples, but also for companies, including cell phone providers, snack producers and banks, and some political parties.
"Many big companies and political parties order hundreds to thousands souvenirs. Political parties usually order souvenirs for general election campaigns," she said.
"So far, I have only taken orders from big parties because it's a lot of money. I don't trust small parties. I'm afraid they cannot afford to pay for the souvenirs," she added.
She said the weekend was the best time for wedding souvenir vendors because many people came to the market then.
"I can earn more than Rp 20 million on weekend, while on weekdays my turnover is about Rp 5 to 10 million," she said.
Dowry boxes also are an important part of traditional weddings. Bridal couples can buy fancy dowry boxes in Pasar Pagi, also on the lower ground floor, and Mayestik market, South Jakarta.
In Mayestik market, dowry box vendors are on the first floor of the Block A building. The stalls are open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Paijo, 48, has been selling dowry boxes for more than 10 years, and offers boxes in a range of different materials and sizes.
"The most popular dowry boxes are those made from natural materials, such as lidi (thatch), mendong (grass) and pandan (pandanus). I usually buy the boxes from craftsmen in Tasikmalaya, West Java," Paijo said.
A set of thatch and pandan dowry boxes, which consists of four boxes, sells for Rp 100,000 and a set of mendong dowry boxes (of various colors) costs between Rp 60,000 and 75,000.
A set of colorful satin jewelry and ring boxes is priced between Rp 25,000 and 30,000.
Paijo said that the past three months had been high season because many people were getting married.
"I can earn more than Rp 5 million on the weekend and during the high season," said Paijo, who also sells fruit baskets and rice containers.
Many people came to Paijo's stall during the Post's visit, including Ningsih, who lives in Ciputat, Banten.
"I bought dowry boxes for my sister and niece in Mayestik because it has many kinds of boxes at affordable prices. I can also find fancy fruit baskets and cake boxes here," Ningsih said.