TANGERANG, Indonesia (Reuters) – For Indonesian couple Mohamad Nurjaman and Ugi Lestari Widya Bahri, their wedding meant the most important day of their lives, to be celebrated in front of hundreds of happy guests.
But the coronavirus pandemic forced a change of plan: Instead, the pair exchanged vows on Friday in a solemn ceremony attended only by eight close family members. Other relatives watched a live stream of the 40-minute wedding procession from their homes.
Although there is no official Indonesian ban on mass gatherings, authorities have warned against them in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus across the country after at least 3,512 people were infected and 306 died.
“If you asked if we are disappointed, definitely,” said 31-year-old Nurjaman, speaking after the traditional Muslim ceremony in Tangerang, neighbouring the capital Jakarta.
“But we must accept, because this is not only affecting one or two people. We just have to accept the situation.”
The couple have been dating for two years and started to plan their wedding last October. But the reception for 500 guests that was supposed to take place in an event hall in a university in Jakarta on April 12 will be postponed indefinitely.
“In a normal ceremony, relatives and friends will come to witness the ceremony, but now we’ll rely on technology,” said 24-year-old bride Bahri.
One of the bride’s cousins watched the live stream from her living room, wearing the outfit she had picked out for the big day. She held up a placard with a message congratulating, and included the hashtag “#dirumahaja”, meaning “stay home” in Indonesian.
“It’s sad but we have to do it virtually. But thank God it went well,” said Aulia Nita Nurwidya.
(Reporting by Willy Kurniawan and Johan Purnomo in Tangerang; Additional reporting by Yuddy Cahya Budiman and Tommy Ardiansyah; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
Other countries also reverting to live streaming for special occasions.