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September 2003
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This is the story of our (typical?) Balinese Hindu Wedding in September 2003.  From the beginning to the end. At the end of this story is an actual budget of all the expenses and a checklist of documents we needed.  I hope you enjoy.......(click on any image to get a larger version or Click here for ALL the Wedding images)

Our Balinese Hindu Wedding

Before August 8th, 2003

My girlfriend Yanti, is from Java originally and was raised as a Muslim.  I am from the United States and was raised Christian – Catholic, actually.  Neither of us practices the religion of our parents.  Since living in Bali for the last two years, I have dreamed of getting married in a Hindu ceremony.

Yanti and I have talked about this and she has been practicing the Hindu offering ceremonies for many months.  She does these daily offerings at our home and attends temple ceremonies with our housekeeper.

Since I was going to California in mid-August and returning in late September; and since I wanted to return to California soon with my wife Yanti, we realized that we needed to set the date for our wedding so it would happen in early October.  This would then give us time to have Yanti obtain here Indonesian passport and her US Visa.

The 1st Step

August 9, 2003

Today we met with an elder of our village (Penestanan) to discuss what would be a good day for a wedding ceremony.  His name is Pak Soki and is a very famous artist who sells his work world-wide.  He is also a Hindu that is very knowledgeable about picking auspicious days.  We went to his beautiful home and studio in Penestanan, told him why we had come and he immediately set about reading the calendar.  Calendars in Bali are very complex things.  There are three calendars that must be consulted to see what days are good days in all three calendars.  After 10-15 minutes, he announced that October was NOT a good month.  However, September 26th was very good, as was dates in November.  So we settled on September 26, 2003 as the day of our wedding.

Next we must consult with the Hindi priest. 


August 10, 2003

Yanti, Wayan our housekeeper, and I went to the home of Pak Soki at 3PM today.  Then with him and his wife we drove to the village of Payangan to meet with the village elder and priest there.  Since Pak Soki had determined that Sept. 26th was a good day for a wedding we needed a real priest to concur.  So Soki, the priest and his mother consulted the calendars and after talking and pointing for about 20 minutes, it was decided that, indeed, September 26, 2003 was a very auspicious day for a wedding!


After more discussion we learned that we needed to go to Gianyar to get some ‘paper’ that will allow Yanti and me to become Hindu.  So tomorrow at 8:30AM we are to again meet at Pak Soki’s home and then drive to Gianyar.  (Gianyar is the Regency capital.  Regency is like a county in the US).

I also found a web site ( “Relating to Marriages Between Expats and Indonesians”.  It gives a huge amount of legal information concerning marriages in Indonesia.  Seems I must contact the American Consulate as I need a “Letter of No Impediment to Marriage” from them.  I’ll call this morning.  I checked the US Embassy web site and found ( “INFORMATION ON MARRIAGE IN INDONESIA FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS”.   It was a little helpful.  However, I was surprised to learn that for Yanti to get her Visa to come with me to visit the United States we must pay:

US$ 130.00 - Filing I-130 petition 

US$ 335.00 - Immigrant visa application and issuance!

Who says the US is the land of the free?

August 11, 2003


We met with Pak Soki’s son this morning and drove to Gianyar.  After several stops to ask directions we finally found the ‘Social’ department.  After about 20 minutes of discussion (in Indonesian) we were given 2 3-copy forms to fill out.  One set for each of us.  It basically states that we are knowingly converting to Hindu.  We even have to list our parent’s names.  In this wacky world, perhaps some parent has contacted (sued?) Indonesia about allowing their child to convert to another religion.  Who knows?


The next step is to meet with the priest again and get his blessing (and signature).  Then, after attaching some pictures of ourselves, we return the form to the office in Gianyar.  Then we can schedule the Hindu ceremony.  The only thing we don’t know at this point is how much it will cost for the ‘ceremonial offerings’.  Apparently we will need to pay for all offerings from birth onward.  We have heard it will be ‘big money’, but don’t know the number yet.  Yanti and I have discussed this and we feel that if it is less than US$1,000 for us both for ALL the offerings, then we will proceed.  If it is more than that, we may abandoned the Hindu part and Yanti will convert to Christian and we will be married that way.  Stay tuned!

Converting to Hindu & The Wedding

After a very hectic 3 ½ weeks in Calif.  Seeing friends and relatives, which is always fun, it was back to Bali to prepare for the wedding.








Even though I invited all my family and friends in California to come to Bali and attend the wedding ceremony I didn’t really expect anyone to be able to, what with school and the short notice and all.  However, my wonderful brother Jack said he definitely wanted to attend.  He arrived in Bali on Monday, Sept. 22 and stayed in our guest room.  Yanti’s family, her Mom & Dad, both brothers and wife, 3 cute kids and both beautiful grandmothers arrived on Wednesday.  We had rented the guesthouse next to ours to give them a nice place to stay and so they were very close.  They did all the food preparation and cooking for the Friday ceremony. Yanti’s mother is a really great cook; she has a warung (café) in Surabaya, Java, and cooked up a huge feast for everyone.

 To start things off, on Tuesday, we had a special ceremony at our house that converted Yanti & me to Hinduism (Sudi Widhani).

The priest and several assistants arrived with many trays of offerings.  The ceremony took about 30 minutes.  Yanti & I were blessed many times and sprinkled with holy water.  Before we knew it, we were officially Hindu.  No exams, no interviews, no nothing!  “Om Swastiastu” (the Hindu greeting)


So now it was time to prepare for the big event.  But first a few background details.  The costs!  At first we were told it would cost about 30,000,000 rupia for the blessings.  (This is about $3,500).  We said that maybe we didn’t need to be blessed all that much and was then told it could be done for 11,000,000 ($1,300).  It seemed pretty steep even at that, but on the day of the wedding when we saw all the preparation  that had gone into it and the fact that there were 2 priests and about 6 assistants, it didn’t seem that bad.  Plus the fact that Yanti & I actually needed to go thru 3 blessings and offerings before we could be married.  We had our ‘birth’ offerings; our ’37 day’ offerings (given when the baby is 37 days old and is then officially a human); and our ’90 day’ offering (At three months, the child is allowed to touch the ground and is given a name. The child has entered the earthly world and the ceremonies are to welcome and guide the child during his or her first steps in life. This is how a child attains full incarnation of human status.).








So the big day arrived.  Our housekeeper arrived early and fixed our breakfast.  It would be the last food we’d get for about 7 hours L   Next came our costumes and make-up artists.  (This is required for both us in this typical Hindu ceremony – I didn’t need make-up …… well maybe a little). See Yanti’s images of her hair and all the stuff in it and you’ll get some idea as to why it took over 3 hours her her.  Each gold piece is actually pinned into her hair.   




My headdress was more like a very uncomfortable hat.  Soon all the offerings arrived along with the priests and the assistants.   All the offerings where now in place.  Again take a look at the pictures and see all the amazing offerings that were laid out.


 So, we were all dressed and made up by the appointed 11 AM time.  Yanti looked like a Balinese doll, perhaps even more beautiful.    I looked more like a cheap hooker or a very poorly done-up cross-dresser – oh, well.










At about 11:15 the ceremony began in earnest.  Two chairs where put in place for Yanti & I to sit on and the priest began ringing his bell and praying.  After living in Bali for 2 years I still get a little chocked up whenever I see a Balinese put out even the smallest of offerings during the day and this was no exception.  It all seemed so spiritual that I could almost feel the gods that were being prayed to.   You can read Nick’s write-up at for a nice description of the ceremony from an observer’s point of view.  I was pretty busy trying NOT to make a fool of myself in front of about 60 ‘real’ Hindus.  However, the ceremony was filled with symbolism.

Here are a few:

q       Yanti was given a basket of material and I was given a hoe with a coconut on one end.  We then walked around some offerings, out our front gate and then back again.  We did this 3 times.  I think it represented bringing the things necessary to a marriage into the house.


q       We knelt in front of each other and were given different objects that we had to ‘roll’ back and forth to each other – 2 eggs, 2 coconuts, some coins, and some bananas.  I think this represented each of us sharing everything with the other.


q       We walked around several objects and had to ‘kick’ them as we passed them – a coconut, and some other fruit.  Don’t know what this represented.   Since the feet are considered unclean, perhaps this meant we were kicking the evil out of our marriage. 


q       At one point two little trees were brought out with a string tied between them.  Yanti & I had to walk between them and break the string.  Breaking with the past?


q       What turned out to mean that we were actually married was a woven string with a flower in the middle.  It was tied around each of our heads.  Not unlike the exchanging of rings (which was not part of our ceremony)









Yanti & I did exchange rings though.  So, just like in the west, it is easy to see if someone is married or not with the wearing of the rings. 

About half way thru the ceremonies, we had a break while offerings were changed.  Perhaps the 1st part was the 3 pre-wedding ceremonies.  A new priest was brought in and new offerings laid out.  As this was going on Yanti & I mingled with the guests.  The 2nd part then started and I think this was the actual wedding ceremony.  The only upsetting part for me was that I could see that all the guests had begun eating!   Not even paying that much attention to what we were doing.  But finally the little bell was rung for the final time and Yanti and I were married.  She became Ni Komang Yanti Briscoe and I became Wayan Bruce Martin Briscoe.  Or Ibu Yanti and Bapak Bruce.  We thanked the priest and his assistants and got to finally eat some of the great food put out and receive the blessing and congratulations of our friends and neighbors.  
















We also go to finally take off our headdresses that were getting very uncomfortable by this time.  


Even though I did not understand much of the meanings and symbolism of the ceremonies it was still very moving indeed.  Having my brother there to represent my family and having Yanti’s family here meant a lot to me and to Yanti.     We, of course, received many gifts including sarongs, beautifully carved statues, glasses and plates, flowers, and more from our guests. 



Nick wrote up a short story about the event with 2 pictures on his site.  I sent this out to about 80 friends and relatives the day after the event.  The next day he wrote up a long and detailed story with many pictures.  I sent this URL: ( ) out to the same 80 folks and received many, many emails sending congratulations to both Yanti & myself which we appreciated.  Several people said reading his story and seeing his pictures so quickly after the event made them feel like they had actually been here.  The internet does it again!

I’ve put together the budget for our wedding so you can see that, other than the cost of the offerings, the actual cost of everything else was pretty cheap (about $400).  If you have any questions please feel free to email me at  You can also visit our websites to see what we are up to: for ALL the images for my ongoing stories of living in Bali for my destination management and travel company for Yanti’s business site with all the beautiful hand made beaded purses from our village of Penestanan. for my bi-weekly articles about computers

From Yanti & I: “Om Swastiastu”

Pak Wayan Bruce & Ibu Komang Yanti Briscoe



Wedding Costs




Fee to Gianyar to convert to Hinduism



3 pictures taken of each us for above



Fee for all offerings and wedding ceremony



Rent house next door for 4 days for Yanti’s family



Food costs



Drink costs



Rent tables, chairs, chafing dishes



Rent costumes & make-up






Misc. help (Drivers, etc)



Misc. decorations



Fee for form from US Embassy (No Impediment)



3 pictures to Register marriage with Indonesia



Fee to Register marriage with Indonesia



Fee for ‘Sworn’ translation of Marriage document



TOTAL COST (8,500 rp/US$)


US$ 1,741.00



Legal & Paperwork Requirements

Assumes that the marriage will not be a Muslim ceremony:

  1. Speak to the local village priest to have him determine the auspicious day for the wedding.
  2. If one or both are converting religions (Indonesia does NOT recognize marriages between people of different religions – both partners MUST be the same religion (usually the wife to be, converts to the man’s religion) obtain a 3 copy form from the Regency along with 3  4x6cm pictures  of each person; fill out and return to the Regency, keeping 1 copy
  3. After the religious wedding ceremony the marriage MUST be registered with the Indonesia government before it is legal.  The following originals and copies are required:
    1. Birth certificate for both partners
    2. Final Divorce paperwork if either was previously married
    3. Passport (or KTP for Indonesians)
    4. Letter from Embassy called “Letter of No Impediment” (you will need passport and copy of divorce decree if previously married) for Non-Indonesians
    5. For Indonesian “Surat Keterangan Belum Kawin” from Kepala Desa or Lurah
    6. For non-Indonesian – “Surat Tanda Mekaporkan” (Certificate of Police Registration)
    7. 2 4x6cm pictures of the couple (side-by-side)
    8. The form for Intention To Marry from the Regency

When all the forms are processed it can be up to 10 days before the marriage is ‘registered’.  Once this is done it is recommended that a ‘Sworn Translation’ be obtained.  The US Consulate in Bali suggested we call ESKA Business Services and Ms. S. Kadarisman at 081 238 147 04.  She gave us an 'official' English translation in 30 minutes for 60,000 rp!

Lastly, a ‘Pre-nuptial Agreement’ may also be registered at the same time.  This document will need to be signed by a Notary.

Don't forget to check out 

ü Now Yanti carries about 20 beautiful purses and several beaded necklaces and hair clips!

ü for all your Bali travel needs and questions!


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Two Happily Married Hindus

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