Our Balinese Celebration of Love

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Photographs and story by Ludmy Paiva & Átila Ximenes

I confess. Three days before our trip started in January, we started talking about how cool it would be to get married in some place where we would be in Asia. The first option was obviously always Maldives, but Bali seemed so romantic and spiritual that we thought it could be a beautiful place to celebrate our union.

Well, the big day was today. We talked for a week with the organizers of the Alila Manggis events, the hotel where we were staying at the time, and made it clear that we wanted a traditional Balinese wedding, exactly as it is performed by themselves. The organizer, called Kadek, planned everything in less than seven days and told us that we would have a ceremony with a Balinese priest, dressed in character and that it would last about 30 minutes. In addition, we included in the package a professional photographer from the hotel and she said that there would be someone from the staff responsible for helping us with the clothes and hairstyle. That was all we knew.

At 14:30, as agreed, we met with Kadek in the hotel lobby. We went up to my room with another employee responsible my typical Balinese hairstyle and help us with clothes. The hair was as I imagined, all up, with volume; the pictures I had seen, there was a kind of golden ornament, which I did not use, as it is actually used by locals. The dressing was a surprise: a type of tissue that wrapped around your waist making a complicated volume in the stomach and several layers of scarves, corsets and finally an embroidered shirt they use on special occasions. The clothes I liked most, golden, did not fit because they did not calculate the size of my bra and it made me a little apprehensive, so here is the hint: Talk about the clothes before.

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Had fun in the preparation, which lasted about 1 hour and a half, although the clothing was not comfortable in a more than 30-degree heat. I left the room feeling weird, lordly, but before long it becomes immaterial; and you will understand why. Attila was feeling like a vintage porter too, but as he is man, it matters less. In the end, we look at each other and laugh at all those typical clothes.

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We went to the front desk with the organizer, where the photographer and an assistant was waiting inside the car that would take us to the temple. I felt nervous, not knowing what to expect, worried about how I was dressed, was it ugly or pretty, but that feeling faded when we got to the temple. We were greeted by I Made Ngurah, the concierge responsible for explaining and instructing us during the ceremony.

We went to the end of the house / temple and sat on some chairs in front of the altar they had prepared, with offerings, and where the Mangku (priest) played some bells while talking with God (repeating a mantra in Sanskrit) and beginning the ritual spiritual marriage. Meanwhile, two men were playing a local instrument, with cheerful music.

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The Mangku called us to begin the ceremony. We stood in front of the altar, standing, while the concierge was explaining to us what it meant to each phase of the ceremony. The first phase was the purification, cleansing the body and spirit for both of us; the priest asked us to open hands and put herbs twice and soon after our hands were washed. Then he began to evoke Sanskrit words and placing holy water on our heads; yes, the amount of water was enough to soak my hair and all that beautiful freshness. I focused on the process of the ceremony from that moment, as it involves prayers and faith on our part as well. After placing the holy water, joining our hands, we drank four times. Soon after, they wrapped a “ribbon” in our head that had three colors: red, black and blue. This ribbon means the three stages of life: birth, life and death. The priest touched our heads with water, put rice in our heads and gave us a bit to eat, according to them, it brings prosperity to the couple.

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After the purification step, begins the phase of prayer; sat across the altar with a bowl of flowers (offerings) and first we were told to pray to Surya, the Hindu Sun God and then to God, asking him strongly what we wanted for our relationship. Each prayer had a flower and certain offering.

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After the phase of prayer, began the last step, the blessing. To officially finalize the ceremony, we had to rip one of the banana leaves off the offerings and split a fruit together. The one chosen by the concierge was my favorite Asian fruit: the mongosteen. Took a piece each and put it in each other’s mouth, at the request of the concierge; for them, it means the affection and mutual attention during the life of the relationship. And so we end our ceremony, much lighter, happy and fulfilled.

We asked for a photo with our Mangku, never to forget that moment.

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Arriving at the hotel, the staff had prepared a special decoration for post-ceremony photo session, between the pool and the beach: a space with greenish grass, an arc of white flowers, and colorful flowers on the ground, marking the way to the altar, which was facing the sea. The sound of the waves, the birds, a perfect sunny day … it was a dream. It moved me to see all that structure and the bouquet of yellow flowers waiting for me. The organization of the hotel surprised me a lot, imagine if it was a wedding with many guests? It would be a great party!

I went to the bedroom to change quickly, bought a beachy dress at the hotel shop at the suggestion of the organizers. After all, I did not expect to do a ceremony and photo session and therefore did not travel with a white long dress. In the end, I think I will wear white only on the day we were married in the presence of family and friends (yes, we still want to get married in Brazil!), Then the light and simple solution was a long dress, but the mood tropical and kept the hairstyle and all the blessings and paraphernalia given by our Father – including the rice on the forehead, amazingly!

The photographer took some pictures with our camera and eventually sent us the complete set, done with his equipment. It was the first time we did a photo shoot together and I confess I was so happy and full of smiles, we hugged and recorded this moment together :). I share with you some pictures of today and recommend this experience to any couple!

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For those who are dreaming of a different wedding or even a special honeymoon, this is the site of Alila Manggis with all the ceremony options and prices: http://www.alilahotels.com/manggis/weddings

And also did a video to give you an idea of how it was.

Read all our posts on Renewal of Vows & Honeymoon here!

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