Readers, I married him.
Between Sydney and Surabaya, it was online, last minute, and currently unrecognised by the state — but all that cease to matter because at the end of the day I’m just happy and thankful that I’m married to the wonderful man that I love. Alhamdulillah. ♥️
A bit of a backstory about our wedding: we set our wedding date on June 20, 2020 since our engagement (lamaran in the Indonesian term) last year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March we decided to postpone the wedding (of course, come June it turned out to be the only possible option anyway due to travel restrictions between Australia and Indonesia).
Despite us being completely fine with the postponement, a few days before our supposed wedding date we couldn’t help but feel a bit sombre, and in one of our conversations I wistfully said that it was a pity that we weren’t getting married that weekend (the date had a special significance that relates to how we met in the first place). And Max, the ever-insane person that he is, responded: “Well why don’t we just get married then?”
It was definitely a difficult decision for me to make, honestly. Since we weren’t able to sort out the necessary paperwork to register the wedding to the state due to COVID-19 and since Max was thousands of miles away due to international travel restrictions, the only way we could get married was to get an online faith-based Islamic wedding. Never have I imagined to get a religious wedding, which is often stigmatised in Indonesia (and for good reason, to be fair), let alone an online religious one.
But unusual times call for unusual solutions, sometimes. With the stricter travel restrictions and safety issues, it is mightily difficult for Max to travel to Indonesia for us to get married the normal way. After numerous discussions and constant monitoring of the updated situation, it increasingly seemed like an online religious wedding was the only realistic way in our case to tie the knot this year.
Thankfully, Max was so firm and sure about it, and as always, his reassurance assured me too. We called several imams and religious experts to ensure that it’s in line with Islamic law. It is, and apparently even Gus Dur (a renowned Indonesian ulema and former president, whom we both deeply admire) got married by phone. Eventually, with the support of our family and friends, we decided to go forward with it — the night before the wedding!
It was definitely a crazy feat — if it wasn’t for our amazing family and family friends who came to the rescue at lightening speed, it definitely wouldn’t have been possible. The funniest thing about the whole wedding ordeal is that I had spent months trying to organise a wedding and researching various vendors. But while we had booked (and then postponed) vendors for the reception, obviously we couldn’t just contact them D-1 to have them organise our Islamic wedding lest they get a heart attack. Turns out all I needed was my family!
My mum bought some flowers, my father was in charge of setting up the Zoom conference and preparing the PowerPoint slides; while I helped organise the food and translate the texts we wanted to display on the slides (yes, I am aware this sounds more like a work meeting than a wedding). My sister took on the challenge of being the Wedding Organiser, decor person, and make-up artist — all in one. On the morning of the wedding, she set up and decorated the room with my brothers, helped me buy some makeup kit because we were totally unprepared, and then did my makeup an hour before the nikah, with barely enough time to get ready herself.
Although I had started to make a wedding dress months ago, since we decided to postpone the wedding, I hadn’t returned to the dressmaker for dress fittings. Thus, the night before the wedding, I practically didn’t have anything to wear! So we looked through my sister’s and my mother’s wardrobes till we found a wearable traditional outfit and matching hijabs. The outfit was over-sized and we had to pin both the top and the skirt with loads of safety pins, but it turned out fine in the end. I found some headpiece accessory that was tucked away in my suitcase, all forgotten and never worn, perfect for the occasion. Voila!
And since we didn’t have time to re-book our wedding photographer, my youngest brother took our Canon camera and began clicking away, despite being an amateur and having it on the wrong setting. The results didn’t turn out so bad at all though, whew!
On Max’s side, his family also went through a similarly frantic preparation. The day before the wedding, he went with his brother to buy a suit and formal outfit; then on the D-day, his mum’s partner and him went to Lakemba to get some biryani for the few guests, a Quran, and of course: a Muslim cap or peci! (We wanted him to wear the more Indonesian kopiah, but obviously in Sydney it was hard to come by.) We also called our Indonesian friend currently in Sydney to act as witness, as per the religious requirement. Thankfully, he agreed to right away, and even brought along another friend of his to act as the second witness, since we needed two witnesses.
On the D-day, as per the safety and health protocol for COVID-19, we made sure there were not more than 12 people in the house. Our witnesses were ready, and we were just testing out the Internet connection with Sydney. But then an issue came up: our Internet connection suddenly gave up on us, despite us preparing two modems from different providers. That was half an hour before the nikah! At the time we were supposed to start, the issue hadn’t been solved and our online guests were waiting. Thankfully, my brother swooped in to save the day by coming up with the genius idea to use his smartphone as a tethering device. Phew, again.
We then started by a Quran recitation by the imam and some wedding dua (prayers) from my uncle, who joined us online. Then, came the moment we were all waiting for: the nikah or ijab qabul. My father was to say a line that basically gives my hand in marriage, and Max was to answer by saying a line to state that he receives my hand in marriage. It’s the most nerve-wracking moment of every Muslim wedding, and per custom the lines shouldn’t be broken by a pause between them. We were all nervously hoping that the Internet connection wouldn’t break up at that very moment.
It didn’t — both my father and Max delivered their lines smoothly, alhamdulillah.
It felt eerie, for sure, but we thought that the nerve-wracking moment was over. But right after, came the marital advice from our family. From my side, it was given by my father, and from Max’s side, it was given by his godfather, Tom. They were both beautiful, emotional messages, and suffice to say there was hardly a dry eye in the house (and in the Zoom conference guest list!).
And that’s how we got married in the midst of a pandemic. It might not have been the most ideal, but it was good enough for us, and we’re both grateful that both our families and friends have been nothing but supportive and encouraging throughout and after the whole ordeal.
So, here we are — apart but together, if not by law then at least by faith. For now. ♥️