Indonesian weddings are Big, capital B. And it can be a sensory overload of chattering guests (where a congregation of 300 people is considered a ‘small’ wedding), lively music, and all-you-can-eat buffet fiestas that make your mouth water. So my ears perked up when I met Aisha to deliver her wedding band, and she told me that she and Dimas were planning a zero-waste wedding. I immediately wanted to know more, and they were generous enough to share all the details.
Aisha and Dimas had everything down pat. From their invitations to a naturally stunning backdrop. They took apart the components of standard fare wedding day essentials, and made it their own. All while doing their best to achieve their dream of a zero-waste wedding. Read on below for my interview with them.
I need a little background info first! How did you and Dimas fall in love?
It’s kind of a funny story. I first came across Dimas’s artwork on his Instagram page, and I was captivated by his illustrations. I knew that he knew my cousin, so I asked my cousin to introduce me to him and we just hit it off! Our first meeting was at a coffee shop where I asked him to be a mentor for an event I was organizing. Our short texts turned into 3AM phone calls, where I was - more often than not - stressed over deadlines. While trying to calm me down or to cheer me up, we found out that we shared a lot of things. From Liverpool shirts that we both had, to quirky daily habits that we both did, we just clicked. The rest is history. Up till today, our friends and acquaintances still find it hard to believe that we actually met online even though we’ve been together since before the whole online-dating app era.
Why did you pick Gardens of the Sun to make your wedding bands?
I’ve been a fan of Gardens of the Sun for a while now. I love the beautiful jewelry designs and the effort that goes into ethically sourcing the materials. I was waiting for a special occasion to get something, but nothing had come yet. Until of course the wedding! Dimas and I have been together for over 6 years when we decided to take the next step. And I thought ‘what better milestone in life than a wedding to get something special for yourself and your partner?’ When we talked about rings, I convinced Dimas to check out Gardens of the Sun. I was living in Bali, and choosing a studio based in the paradise island also seemed even more contextual and special for us.
What drew you to our Wabi Sabi Organic Wedding Bands?
Initially it was impossible for me to choose the rings since I adore most Gardens of the Sun’s designs. Dimas was halfway convinced when I showed him several designs that I liked, but he was really drawn to the Wabi Sabi rings. It encompassed our relationship so perfectly: a thing of beauty even with all its dents and cracks. As with any relationship, we’ve faced some tough obstacles where we didn’t think we would come out of it intact. But we somehow made it.
In the 6 years that we were together, we always had a long-distance relationship, with him being in Jakarta and myself moving around from Bandung, to London, to Bali. This made the relationship particularly bittersweet at times, as we had to cope with the dreadful longing as well as the excitement of seeing each other. It was oftentimes challenging to communicate through to different time zones, and we’ve had to grapple with trust issues and tolerance to ensure that our relationship pulled through. However, these circumstances also taught us to cherish the small moments that we shared together. It just seems right that the beauty of imperfection in our relationship is represented physically with the Wabi Sabi design.
You worked super hard for a zero-waste wedding - that's amazing, but also really hard in the Indonesian setting. What are the aspects of your wedding that you focused on to make it zero waste?
Organizing a wedding involved partnerships with multiple vendors, so we tried to focus on several practical aspects that are known to have less-waste alternatives.
We opted to go with e-invites to avoid leftover paper being thrown away. During the wedding itself, we wanted to raise awareness of a more environmentally conscious lifestyle through an info card containing all the details of how we organized our less-waste wedding, and they were printed on recycled art paper. As for souvenirs, we chose upcycled produce bags made from leftover fabric so that our guests can take part in minimizing single-use plastics when grocery shopping.
For the wedding venue, we chose a cliff-side location which already so beautiful in itself that we got away with less decoration. We used recycled bottles as centerpieces to minimize waste, and after the wedding, the flowers were collected and rearranged to be sent to a local hospital in Bali. We also partnered with the venue management team and a local NGO to arrange for all of the extra food we had to be repackaged and distributed to those in need.
For our attires, we selected the local brand SukkhaCitta known for empowering local village artisans in their processes. My evening dress was revamped by a designer friend of ours based on an existing piece of mine purchased long ago. Last but not least, we were thrilled to have ethically sourced rings from Gardens of the Sun as part of our big day and beyond!
What was the best thing that happened while planning your zero-waste wedding?
An important thing for us that made the wedding possible was the fact that both of our families were really supportive of our wedding concept! During the planning process, having the shared goal of reducing waste meant the tasks were divided efficiently. Everyone was resourceful in looking for eco-friendly alternatives, and we had a lot of fun going through the trials and errors!
The second-best thing that happened was when we stumbled upon the breathtaking cliffside venue. We knew from the beginning that in order to minimize waste from decoration during the big day, we had to pick a place that was already gorgeous without much modification. I was browsing for wedding references when I accidentally came across the cliffside venue. Feeling quite intrigued, I asked my mother to come along to see it in person. It was love at first sight. We were mesmerized by the lush vegetation and flowers. It was beyond our imagination! And even though Dimas didn’t see it until 2 weeks before the wedding, he fell in love with it too.
What was the hardest part of organizing a zero-waste wedding?
Organizing an environmentally conscious wedding is still regarded as something uncommon, especially in Indonesia. It requires meticulous attention to details, as well as mutual understanding with different vendors. During the process, we tried to share our understanding of the ‘less-waste’ theme and the mission behind it in hopes of motivating the vendors involved. It was challenging at first to break the status quo, especially when you’re already accustomed to the notion of ‘buying more, having more of everything’ in a wedding. The planning definitely required extensive research and brainstorming sessions, but it was well worth it in the end. The majority of our guests appreciated the extra effort that went into the theme, and several of our friends are already asking for tips on how to apply it in their own weddings. Small wins can lead to bigger victories!
You also had two weddings! Can you tell us more about that?
A typical Indonesian wedding usually has two segments: the holy matrimony and the reception. More often than not, the wedding is organized within the same day or divided into two consecutive days. At the time of the wedding Dimas was living in Jakarta and I was still in Bali, so we decided to have the holy matrimony in Jakarta and the reception party in Bali. We wanted to keep the gathering intimate in both cities, so that our friends and family could still attend at least one part of the wedding. We decided that the reception would take place 1.5 months after the holy matrimony so we would still have some time to rest and prepare.
What’s the most special memory you have of your wedding day?
For Dimas, the whole day was magical due to the picturesque setting and the warm ambience. A lollipop colored sky set a stunning backdrop to the special day, enthralling us with its different hues and gradation. We were particularly thankful that the rainy season hasn’t started yet around these areas. My mother commented that the whole afternoon was just picture perfect, like it came straight from a painting.
What are your hopes and tips for other couples planning a zero-waste wedding?
We hope that those planning for a wedding in the forthcoming years would be more conscious and consider ‘waste’ as a significant aspect during the process. At times, we can get caught up in the adrenaline of organizing so many different things simultaneously and overlook the impact that we have on the environment. Every single decision can make a difference, no matter how small it may seem. We hope that our wedding can show how supporting the ‘less-waste’ notion doesn’t mean that we have to compromise our idea of a dream wedding. As you can see, we still had the gorgeous wedding we wanted! Eventually, we hope to inspire and motivate others to take up similar efforts for their big day. Our tip when throwing a ‘less-waste’ wedding is to be creative about how you go about things, ask yourself questions like ‘is there an alternative way in sourcing the bouquet’ or ‘can we reduce food waste?’ Also, try to engage with different partners or vendors that might seem unlikely at first to help carry out your eco-agenda!