We love us a Balinese wedding. If you're lucky enough to get invited to one, don't even think twice. It's such a great excuse to get dressed up like a local and experience one of the most important ceremonies in life. We were recently invited to a colleague's gorgeous day and couldn't help but share it!
Balinese weddings are very different to western weddings, and that's what we love about it. There's no seating plan or formal speeches and depending where the wedding is taking place, there may even be chickens pecking around your feet.
It's not a silent, solemn affair like in a western ceremony. Instead everyone happily chats away with each other (even while the couple is being blessed by the mangku or priest), and even speaking on the phone is quite acceptable. There are often babies crying and children playing; life pretty much just goes on as normal.
The bride and groom look almost like royalty, with their elaborate gold headpieces and large gold ear rings. Both wear heavy makeup for the special day, and only the finest sarongs are worn. Many couples actually hire their outfits for the day, as just the sarong on it's own can be worth millions of rupiah.
Women at the wedding wear traditional kabaya, a lace-type blouse, worn over brightly colored sarongs and tied with a sash while men wear smart batik shirts and sarongs.
A buffet-style meal is usually offered, consisting of rice, chicken or fish, various vegetables and other traditional dishes followed by a cup of ice cream or some other sweet dessert. Wash it all down with a warm soda and you've got yourself a Balinese wedding feast!
Weddings in Bali usually last the whole day, unlike a western wedding which is normally over in a few hours, so you will have all day to soak up the atmosphere and mingle with the guests, big and small.
As far as bringing a wedding present goes, as a foreigner it's fine to just pop some money into an envelope for the bridal couple. There will usually be a decorative box at the reception table when you arrive where you sign the guest book; this is the box where gifts of money can be left. Depending how well they know the bride and groom, local guests may give actual gifts for the couple's new home or even a live pig!
Balinese weddings are held on auspicious days recommended by the priest, so count yourself lucky if you are invited to one and it overlaps with your holiday on the Island of Gods, it's sure to be an unforgettable experience.