Indonesian Wedding? Saying “I do” in Bali

Below is an article about getting married in Bali, that I recently wrote for WA based online magazine, The Starfish.

Year: 2008

Location: Sanur, Bali. A smart coffee shop

Me:   “No. I can’t marry people!  I have never done it before!”

Bali Wedding Planner:     “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. We can’t let this couple down!”

Two days later, I’m hanging onto my seat in a speedboat, bouncing across mighty waves en route to Lombok,  Ceremony Script  encased in a soggy plastic bag. I am off to marry a couple of strangers on the island of Gili Trawangan!

I’m terrified – of the boat capsizing – and, of making a mess of this young couple’s wedding.  They’ve travelled half way around the world to have their ceremony on the beautiful isle where they first met.  And I’m just a little bit nervous, wondering whether what I’m about to do is even legal.

Thankfully, the boat doesn’t sink – nor the wedding. The  Wedding Planner had written a divine script, the venue was glorious, and everything went off beautifully.


Having lost my husband to cancer three years earlier,  I hadn’t been that sure how I would cope with conducting such a  romantic ceremony, especially one with the words, “Till death us do part!”  Thankfully, it all went smoothly…and I enjoyed my role so much, I’m now a professional celebrant!

The Sanur coffee shop meeting took place during my year living in Bali, soon after my husband’s death.  I had promised myself to say “yes” to every opportunity that presented itself.

After that first Wedding, I conducted two more ceremonies in Bali, before returning to WA and deciding to  train  to become Civil Marriage Celebrant.

I am now a full-time celebrant.  I conduct weddings in WA in summer, moving to Bali from June to August each year, to perform marriage ceremonies there.

Balinese flower girls

Balinese flower girls

Bali weddings have become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially among young Australians.  However, some 30-40% of these brides and grooms will conduct the ‘legals’ in Australia prior to travelling to Indonesia.

Of course marrying in Bali, while romantic, can present its own special challenges. For a start, there are frequent tropical rain showers to contend with.

But any wedding planner over there will tell you the way around that is to simply hire a Pawang Hujan (Rain Guide) for your special day!

These Holy Men, who many truly believe possess such magical powers, are said not completely stop the rain from falling: they just ‘transfer’ it to somewhere else!

Katrina Simorangkir,  owner of Bali Weddings International, is a big fan of using a Rain Guide.  “We certainly offer this service to our guests who are here for the wet season and in our 21 years, it has always worked”.

Katrina recalls one memorable ceremony: “We were the organisers for a large wedding group from Java – and the bride had her own Pawang Hujan. He was apparently sitting on a hill in Java and controlling the rain in Bali.  This couple married in a church in Tuban and their guests were transported by buses, first to the Church; then from the Church to the Reception venue in Seminyak.  I remember it poured with rain every time they were on the buses, but with the rain stopping every time they disembarked!

“The hotel had been so worried about the rain for this very big garden event due to the rain they had experienced during the day – but there was not a drop as the Bridal Party and guests walked from the buses to the garden of the resort!  The hotel management was stunned to learn that the bride’s Pawang Hujan was taking care of it all from Java!”

Rohan, of the wedding planning company, Beyond Events Bali, says, “We definitely use rain men all the time and they work too – we escaped any wet weddings so far, thankfully.”

The services of a Pawang Hujan (who might spend 3-4 days working and fasting on behalf of the bride and groom) would usually be between $100 – $300.

Apparently, when black clouds threatened John Paul II’s visit to Jakarta in October 1989, the talents of a Pawang Hujan were also on hand. (I wonder if the Pope knew?)

As you can see, Weddings in Bali can open up a whole new world…..

For more information about Rain Guides, or anything else to do with Getting Married in Bali, I can be reached via my website.