Sun, 20 Feb 2000

Tying the knot in unfamiliar ways for lasting memories

By William Furney

JAKARTA (JP): Ahh, spring is in the air and all around young men have a certain spring in their step as they reflect on matters of the heart. Well, the former would be the case if you were living on a continent other than Asia.

But everywhere on this earth we are approaching the time of year when most marriages take place. At this time, many are thinking about or planning their wedding; and some are about to take the plunge.

Many couples delayed wedding plans until the new millennium. If you take the Chinese community, for example, countless couples want to marry and have kids, not only because of the new millennium, but also because 2000 is the Year of the Golden Dragon which signifies good fortune.

Already there are reports of a plethora of weddings scheduled for this year. Churches and reception venues are fully booked as never before.

Too often, though, what is supposed to be the happiest day of the bride's life, ends up a shambles: the dress doesn't fit as it should, the flowers are not the ones that were ordered, the rallies have started to bicker and a few drops of rain are falling.

Even in these so-called modern, independent days there is pressure on young women to find suitable partners, to marry and produce offspring. Its not a pressure that has any voice, rather it is invisibly inherent in world culture.

And so it is that millions of couples the world over spend many months, even years, planning for their big day.

In the West, the cost of a modest wedding can range from US$7,000 to $25,000. Here, costs are lower, particularly if you take into account village weddings across Asia.

Since the dawn of the free-thinking revolution that was the 1960s, many have been shunning the traditional wedding in favor of one, not only memorable, but also with a touch of fun in the proceedings.

Couples have tied the knot under water, while skydiving, hanging from airplanes and numerous other peculiar situations. A friend was married in a gorilla suit.

This Valentine's Day saw the first Internet wedding taking place. The Indian bride and groom will use their computer keyboards to type 'I do'. Surfers around the world are invited to attend at

Celebrity couple Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall went Hindu for their ceremony in Bali. Fortunately for Hall, Jagger's claim that the ceremony was not legal because they were married in a religion other than their own, did not stop her from getting millions in alimony upon their recent (if not quite final) split.

Gretna Green has, over the ages, been a favorite spot for elopers. In the past, amorous couples left all behind and secretly made for this Scottish destination. Nowadays, there's more an element of amusement attached to marrying there.

Who cares how you get married, some say, as long as you have fun along the way. And who knows, it could all be over in a flash.

"When we decided to get married," said a guest at a wedding in England last year, "we told everyone we were going to Las Vegas on our own, and they were happy with that." He said they found a suitable chapel through the yellow pages, dialed the number and were married shortly thereafter.

We've long been in the instant era and weddings are no exception.

But mommy's little girl would never have any of that. Since she was of an age to think, she's dreamed of nothing other than floating down the aisle in her billowing dress, her prince waiting at the altar.

While many feel they must go through a traditional ceremony for such a momentous occasion, in the current season, there is an equal number that scoff at the idea. One of the reasons being that many couples, mainly in the West, are not religious and object to spending longer than a few minutes in front of a priest.

Therefore, if they go to a foreign country or elope, they are almost guaranteed a short service.

Some commentators claim that marriage was introduced a few hundred years ago by religious leaders to maintain religious harmony and argue it's not necessary in the least.

As many men are known to say: "I love you and that's all that matters. How's a piece of paper going to change that?" But, of course, they are ground down by the woman and eventually submit.

Many people detest events or holidays that see relations coming out of cobweb-infested wardrobes, forcing them to deal with people who they normally would have nothing to do with. With this thinking in mind, every year many couples take the headache out of weddings by opting for foreign climes, thereby leaving Aunt Sally and Uncle Bill at home.

Valentine's Day this year saw this writer taking the plunge. It was an easy enough road until family members became involved, showering us with brochures for receptions and telling us which church to use for the ceremony.

As neither of us are traditional-minded and not overly fond of distant relations, we opted for as far afield as possible: the island of the God's: Bali.

Leaving all the details up to a hotel in Sanur, we were shanghaied from thinking it would be a small affair, free from the usual fuss. For once family got their respective oars in, this boat was going firmly in their direction.

One thing couples have to bear in mind -- for the sake of their sanity and that of others -- is that parents come from the tradition of being traditionally-minded. They are from the old school and have difficulty adopting ideas that are different from the norm.

Therefore, there has to be some degree of concession in order to keep the peace. Regardless of what you or your other half may want on the day.