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Jakarta Post

Indonesian couples hold off wedding plans for better days ... after COVID-19

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 19, 2020   /   01:39 pm
Indonesian couples hold off wedding plans for better days ... after COVID-19 Wedding bells are falling silent around the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Shutterstock/Halfpoint)

April 11 was supposed to be the happiest day of her life so far for Anifa Ludfiani and Firdausyah Bela, and the couple had looked forward to their families watch them as they tied the knot on that date in Sidoarjo, East Java.

The venue has been booked and all expenses paid, from the caterer to the wedding organizer. The couple had also printed invitations for 300 guests to attend their wedding reception.

But the growing spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia has forced Anifa and her 29-year-old fiance to rethink their plans. In the end, they decided to postpone the reception.

The couple also wondered whether they should continue with their wedding on April 5, as they did not want the occasion to pose a greater risk of infection.

"I am really dejected about the whole situation right now," the 25-year-old bride-to-be told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"Yet, it will be sad if only a few people show up at my wedding," Anifa said, wistfully.

Read also: COVID-19: Indonesia suspends visa-free policy, expands ban for people from worst-hit countries

It was the same for Mochammad Dimar Zankar, 33, and his fiancée, Winda Marienda, 27. The Jakartan couple were forced to cancel their wedding reception and pre-nuptial ceremonies scheduled for April after a handful of close relatives declined their invitation.

"Friends of my father and father-in-law have said they cannot come due to a fear of COVID-19, so we had to cancel the wedding party," said Dimar.

But Dimar said he and Winda were standing firm about holding their wedding on April 18, with only close family in attendance.

These couples are only two among many hundreds, even thousands of couples in the country – and likely around the world – who have seen the coronavirus pandemic laying waste to their best-laid plans, leaving them with no choice but to cancel what was supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives.

The local outbreak has infected 227 Indonesians to date, and comes during the height of the wedding season in the country, which usually falls just before and after the Ramadan-Idul Fitri holiday.

The central government has responded by calling on the public to practice "social distancing" – maintaining a minimum distance of 1 meter – to stem the spread of the virus. Authorities have also advised against large gatherings to reduce the risk of wider transmission.

Brand manager Safina Loebis of RefnaWedding in South Jakarta, said that the wedding organizer's clients had all decided to postpone their wedding plans due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Read also: Wedding bell blues: Coronavirus crashes party for couples, planners

"The clients of four weddings scheduled on March 22, March 29, April 4 and April 18 have all asked to postpone," Safina told the Post.

Safina said the wedding industry fully understood the unprecedented situation and were not charging extra for postponements. She added that the ensuing costs to organizers remained to be seen, since all clients had postponed indefinitely, without setting a later date, time or venue.

Things were different for Eky Triwulan Kusumaningrum and Demas Setyo Wahyudi, who had just celebrated their wedding last Sunday with around 300 invited guests at the Omah Ndoro hall in Cibubur, East Jakarta.

A week before their wedding, Eky said she had heard the news on Indonesia's first two confirmed cases – traced to Depok, West Java, which is close to her wedding venue.

Despite their concerns about the outbreak, the couple thought it impossible for them to postpone their wedding ceremony, as everything had been prepared and set to proceed.

"We prepared hand sanitizers and put up posters encouraging people to greet each other using the "Namaste" and the "Vulcan salute" instead of shaking hands at the wedding," she said, referring respectively to the Indian Hindu greeting and the greeting popularized in Star Trek films. (trn)