Sun, 20 Feb 2000

Quaint mementos make for unforgettable wedding

By Stevie Emilia

JAKARTA (JP): Arriving at a wedding reception these days, one will be given a nicely wrapped wedding memento along with a thank you note from the bride and bridegroom, and their families.

It's not clear who started this trend, but presenting such a souvenir has now become an inseparable part of a wedding party.

Cici Andriani, who got married last year, even asked her friend, a stewardess, to help buy souvenirs for her wedding: silvery and golden elephant-shaped key holders in Bangkok.

"For my wedding, I wanted to give something special that people would love to keep," said the 26-year-old Cici.

The idea to buy her souvenirs in Bangkok came after discovering that prices here were higher.

"I went to many places, Mangga Dua and other markets, to find the souvenirs. But they were so expensive for me...," Cici said.

Then she remembered the key holder she had received from her stewardess friend. It was quite affordable and her friend agreed to get Cici what she needed.

A bag of 10 key holders was bought at 20 baht, or at that time, around Rp 6,500. And for her 1,000 wedding guests, she spent about Rp 650,000.

"I did the rest, wrapping and ordering the thank you notes. So my souvenirs cost only about Rp 1,000 each," Cici said.

For various reasons, some couples are willing to pay high prices to get special souvenirs in the hope that their weddings will be memorable.

An accountant, Aryanta Sukma, spent extra effort searching for the right souvenirs for his wedding reception this July. He already had something in mind: a black metal candlestick shaped like a female dancer. And he went as far as Yogyakarta to buy them.

The 29-year-old man said, the same candlesticks in Jakarta would cost him at least Rp 40,000 each, while in Yogyakarta, he could get them for only Rp 10,000 each.

Since Aryanta and his future bride sent more than 500 invitations for the wedding, this means that the couple will spend around Rp 5 million for the souvenirs alone.

"It's expensive all right, but we want something different. Most people usually give keyholders, fans, nothing special. Our souvenir is useful and artistic," said Aryanta.

As souvenirs become sought-after items, wedding souvenir business in some markets, such as in Mangga Dua wholesale market in West Jakarta and Jatinegara market, East Jakarta, enjoy a thriving business. Especially as many soon-to-be-married couples will rush to get married this year believing the Year of the Golden Dragon will bring them good luck and prosperity.

There is a varied choice of souvenirs. Some are typical, like key holders, small jar-shaped clays, toys, beauty pouches, lipstick cases. While others, such as can/bottle openers, small wallets for coins, leather namecard holders or memo paper are more expensive.

Those who want to avoid the hassle of buying their wedding mementos can choose prepackaged souvenirs, which are somewhat cheaper and include neat and attractive wrapping. Thank you notes can be ordered at the same shop.

A souvenir trader in Jatinegara market, Anto, said that business was really busy before and after Idul Fitri, returning to normal sometime after Idul Adha, the Islamic Day of Sacrifice, the following month.

These days, Anto receives at least five orders per day with minimum order of 250 pieces.

"Sometimes, I have to turn down an order if we are overwhelmed; when my five employees can't handle anymore," he told the Post in his small, crowded shop.

During his 10 years in the business, he discovered that most couples preferred buying prepackaged souvenirs to save time and money.

For instance, he said, simple, wrapped key holders of various shapes are offered between Rp 750 and Rp 2,500 each. The price will cost less without the wrapping.

If they want their names put on the souvenir, it will cost between Rp 500 and Rp 1,000 more. Ordering thank you notes will cost a couple up to Rp 250 more. In the end, a souvenir might cost at least Rp 1,500.

"Most couples prefer buying ready-to-use souvenirs without having their name printed on the souvenirs. Most of them also prefer to order and attach the thank you notes on their own," said Anto.

But customers are not the same. Sometimes, they want something different.

"Once a woman came to my shop asking whether I could get music boxes for her son's wedding souvenirs. She said price did not matter. But I had to turn it down because I have no idea where to find such music boxes here," he recalled.

In Mangga Dua, wedding souvenir shops are found in many places. The large variety of souvenir shops make the area popular among soon-to-be-married couples, who patiently search for their desired memento from one shop to another.

"I want to get something that's not too expensive and fast to get," said a young woman, while selecting some souvenirs in a shop in Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua.

The woman, who will get married in March, said she learned about souvenir shops in the area from married friends and relatives. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't need souvenirs for my wedding," she said.

Getting confused in choosing one out of so many kinds of souvenirs is a common thing, according to souvenir shop attendant, Lia.

"We usually ask our customers if they want a specific thing for their wedding souvenirs," she said. "If they know what they want then it won't be difficult for us to help since we have many samples of souvenirs. But it's difficult in dealing with customers who do not know what they really want."

The store, which is only about 16 square meters, is packed with customers, mostly women. Key holders are the favorite souvenirs since they are cheap, Lia said.

She claimed that the shop received at least 10 orders per day on working days and almost double that on weekends.

On slow days, the store gets up to five orders per day. Most costumers order at least 250 pieces.

"Many people get married these days. I hope it will go on the entire year, it's good for our business," said Lia.