Sun, 20 Feb 2000

Money no matter when wedding

By Stevie Emilia

It is the Year of the Golden Dragon, which supposedly brings luck and prosperity for all. Many believe it is the perfect time to get married.

JAKARTA (JP): Get married in 2000 or forget it. The appeal of the new millennium and the Chinese Year of the Golden Dragon are so strong, that it makes many couples want to tie the knot with their loved ones this year.

"This year is the turn of the century ... It's a good time to start our life together," said Aryanta Sukma, who plans to marry his girlfriend of three years this July.

The high number of weddings have forced some couples to change their wedding date after failing to reserve one of the limited numbers of reception halls.

Aryanta said he and his future bride wanted to marry in early January but when they tried to book a reception hall in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, last November, there were no dates available.

"We were too late. It was already fully booked until April," said the 29-year-old accountant, who is allocating over Rp 100 million for his wedding.

Unwilling to give up their marriage plans for this year, the couple then searched for another reception hall which could meet their expectations, but to no avail. Finally, they settled on a wedding package at a five-star hotel.

For most couples, their wedding deserves the best as it is the moment when they make the most important commitment of their lives.

Certainly, what is the best for one couple might be different for another, depending on, among other things, the budget. For a low-income family, a modest party at their house is still the best option, while others who want to avoid the hassles of wedding ceremonies might opt for a photo session from the so- called "honeymoon package" at a bridal photo studio, either to save time or money.

But for the rich, a cheap or simple party is not an acceptable option. For them, price does not matter. And hotels, wedding halls, decorators, beauty salons, photographers as well as printing companies and business which provides wedding keepsakes for the guests are ready to please them with grand weddings -- at the right price.

At this time of the month, popular wedding halls in Jakarta are busy staging memorable weddings.

Busy halls are mostly in hotels or prestigious buildings, such as the Jakarta Convention Center, Balai Kartini, Balai Sudirman and Wisma Bidakara. But hotels are still the favorite because not only do they provide a reception hall, but also food and numerous complimentary services to pamper the newlyweds, including a one- night stay for their wedding night.

The five-star Hotel Gran Mahakam in the Blok M area, South Jakarta, for example, offers three wedding packages priced between Rp 55,000 and Rp 75,000 per person, while Hotel Mulia Senayan sets the prices at Rp 65,000 and Rp 75,000. All the prices -- excluding 21 percent tax -- are only for the buffet and hall. For an extra food stall, one has to pay up to Rp 50,000 per person, depending on the order. A party of 1,000 guests might cost over Rp 100 million for the food and hall alone.

But the high price does not falter the rich.

"We usually host about two weddings a week, but now it might be double that," revealed Mulia assistant public relations manager Sarah Hutabarat.

Wedding halls offer relatively cheaper prices than hotels, but that is only for the hall.

Balai Sudirman in South Jakarta sets the prices for its two meeting halls at Rp 10 million and Rp 15 million respectively. But the price is Rp 750,000 more on the weekends.

Bidakara's Bina Karna hall in Central Jakarta is available for Rp 10 million. But it is fully booked on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until this November.

Bina Karna customer relations officer Dessy Agustiany said the meeting hall hosted 14 wedding receptions in January and there would be about 19 this month.

The new millennium and the Year of the Golden Dragon could be responsible for the wedding fever.

"But some couples also told me they're getting married because it was already part of their plan. With the better economy and security, they are rushing to get married before the situation gets worse," she said.

The hall and the food are not the only things they pay for. A couple still has to buy wedding invitations and gifts, hire decorators and photographers, and most important of all, order or rent a wedding dress and beauticians to do their hair and make- up.

Since lavish weddings not only need money but also time and professionalism, the service of wedding consultants, who specialize either in international or traditional weddings, have become a popular option even though they cost more.

For a complete wedding package, which includes a grand reception in a noted reception hall, a wedding consultant company might charge hundreds of millions of rupiah.

Paula Meliana of Eva Bun wedding gallery, which provides a one-stop wedding service, said for most international weddings many Jakartans preferred wedding packages to avoid the headache of organizing their own.

People prefer to hold receptions at hotels, wedding halls or restaurants instead of in their house not only because it is more convenient, but also to accommodate the many guests.

"About 90 percent of the couples here now prefer to get married in hotels, wedding halls or restaurants. These days receptions at houses are held by those who are on a low budget, or who invite close relatives only," said Paula, the wedding gallery's general manager and designer.

She also recognized that the wedding has become a status symbol.

"Most people use weddings to show off their wealth and status. They also want weddings to be special since it's a once in a lifetime event," said Paula, who will present her latest design, the Cool Bride, at the Fashion Cafe next Saturday and Sunday.

Wedding packages, apart from honeymoon photo sessions, are expensive. A complete package at Eva Bun, which does not include the food and reception hall, might cost up to Rp 48 million. Every month, the wedding gallery serves about 100 couples.

"Busy months are usually September to December, but this year is different. We're already busy," said Paula.


Although most Indonesians are strongly influenced by foreign trends, they still stick to tradition when it comes to weddings.

Jean Liustina, the salon manager at Martha Beauty Gallery in South Jakarta, which provides packages for traditional weddings from 26 provinces, said a couple usually complies to their parents' wishes when choosing a traditional wedding.

"A wedding here is often considered a social event which concerns not only the couple but also their family, relatives and neighbors," Jean said.

The gallery, which serves up to 15 couples a month, offers a make-up service and hairstyling for the bride and groom from Rp 1.1 million to Rp 1.75 million. An off-the-rack wedding dress is available at between Rp 800,000 and Rp 2.5 million. Extra services, such as make-up and costume rentals for the parents and bridesmaids, will cost more.

"If our clients want to have a particular dress for their weddings, we can make them," Jean said.

But traditional weddings are more difficult to handle due to their variety and complexity. The entire procession might take a few days or even the whole week, and this will certainly boost the prices.

"We can adjust the wedding package to suit one's budget, but most clients do not set a limit as they want their weddings to be memorable and perfect," said Jean.