My DIY Wedding

I promised a friend that I would share my DIY wedding. At first I thought it’s too personal, but then I feel that my wedding really brought together the spirit of creativity and togetherness.

Garry and I wanted the wedding to be an intimate, personal ceremony. Okay, if you’re Westerners you’d thought, “isn’t it how it’s supposed to be?” Well, let me tell you something. In my country, marriage is a social ceremony. That means you have to invite the whole big family- yes, even the ones that you’ve just met at your wedding day- and then your parents’ colleagues and best friends, and-this is going to sound ridiculous to some of you-the whole neighbors.  Not to mention the ceremony usually is held in traditional ways. With all due respect to my elders, I must say that it cost so much money for a ceremony that only last for 2-3 hours. In Javanese tradition itself, there are at least 3-4 ceremonies prior to the wedding itself, and for each it costs you millions (so you do the math). Point is, it’s expensive.

Money is not the reason we want to have a do-it-yourself wedding. We both are very creative (well, my husband is, I’m just taking the credits LOL), and we can’t emphasize enough how we want this to be personal. We want people who come to our wedding are the people closest to us, as we want to chat with them–not just greet them, shake their hands and then maybe if we still have enough time, take a photograph, and then all the guests would eat and go home. NO. we don’t want that.

So here’s the story.

The venue was in our Campus Chapel and Hall. We wanted to have it in our lovely Campus because that’s where we met, grew together entering adulthood, and to make it even more personal, the priest who married us was our former lecturer.  And I have to tell you, the Chapel and the Hall was very ordinary. They’ve been there for like 50 years, so it’s not a fancy building because we don’t want fancy, we want warmth and togetherness.

We made the invitation ourselves. I asked my friend to design it for me. I gave her the idea and she did the work. Since the guests are very limited, I only printed about a hundred. And I am blessed because my friend, who designed it, decided to make it as a gift for me so she had them printed at her own cost. Then with embroided papers and vintage lace we wrap them nicely. Done.

We created songs and compile them into a CD as our souvenirs. It was Garry’s idea, and to tell you the truth, the process was  both fun and intimate. For the cover, Garry had them printed black with our wedding symbol on it. But on the back page was an empty white space, and he thought, “hey, it would be nice if I had made them look like a postcard”, but because they’re already printed, so he asked his sister and cousins to draw a post stamp, lines where people would write on each of the back cover, and just be creative with it as long as it looks like a postcard. Unfortunately, we’ve run out of that cover and we didn’t even keep one for our memorabilia, so I couldn’t take a picture for you here. Dear friends and families, I hope you value that CD cover, because each of them is very unique. Souvenirs done.


Booklet. The Mass booklet was printed at the nearby printing shop, where I had them arrange the pages into a booklet. I wrote all of the contents of the booklet myself, with back-and-forth feedback from our Priest. I also designed the front and back cover. Then I purchased fancy paper to print it, and I used golden ribbon to put them together. I got help from two of my friends tying ‘em up. Without them, I would not be able to finish it in time. Done.

Decorations. Garry had a friend who’s very crafty and likes to build things out of his imagination and creativity. So he built a tree-like-pole as the centre for all the lights to be hanged in the room. He also made four others wooden pole as buffers. We borrowed Christmas lights but mostly bought them to be used for the decorations. And the lights are jointly tied with colorful ribbons. They put it all up and voila..let there be lights. There are also signage that gives people directions where to go. He also made them all. Done.

The photo booth background. It was made of plywood painted black so it looked like a blackboard. And then Garry’s friends drew Garry & Ambar Wedding beautifully with colorful chalks. Voila! It’s done.

Plenty newlyweds had pre-wedding photos; that is photos of them somewhere usually with a certain theme and then they would hang these pictures on their wedding. But our perception of pre-wedding photos is literally our lives before we got married. So we made a short photograph story-a kaleidoscope-about us since we were babies, then got to college where we first met and started dating, al through the engagement until the day we’re married. Again, similar materials with the photo booth background, pictures are placed as such and the story was hand-written using colorful chalks as well. Done.

As for the chairs and tables as well as the catering, we searched for the best vendors and arranged things ourselves. Thanks to a dear friend of mine who went out and tasted the food from each caterer I listed. She really has a good taste, because the food was so delicious! I was in Jakarta, and thus unable to do the food testing myself, and Garry had his own to-do-list.

The entertainers. Garry’s band performed, and of course, we both had our little performance as well. The musicians were mostly friends and acquaintances. We chose music with nuances from the 70s, covering songs from a national band, Naif. Their songs really made people feel at ease, and wanted to dance. There are also a pianist and violinist who will play some tunes during certain times of the event. Done.

We set everybody to sit down, enjoy their meals, conversations with old friends and relatives. I must tell you, I come from big family and both our parents live in Jakarta, while we had the wedding in a different city, Yogyakarta. Our friends are scattered from the West to the East side of Indonesia. And surprisingly, they came! We had guests coming from North Sumatera, West Java, Jakarta, Jogjakarta, East Java, Bali, Sulawesi, and even from Dubai. Different islands, different provinces, and different country. Miles away. We were blessed. And this is exactly what we wanted. We want these special people to come, reunited, catch up, enjoy the day, and be happy. We’re the ones coming to them, greeting them personally and casually, meet with the elders who like to give advice and prayers for us, and take as many pictures as we like, with so many different poses as we like. It’s really intimate and personal.


We both also changed our shoes to sneakers. I changed my dress into mini cocktail dress. This is also something that rarely happens in Indonesian wedding. We blend in with our guests and try to entertain them. And then we dance together, and the finale was that we took a picture of all of all us-the guests and us-with my friend’s GoPro. It was Garry’s friend idea. And you know what? It was a beautiful picture. We also had pictures of family who had passed and light candles around them, to show that even though they’re not with us physically, they remain in our hearts.

The photographer. My friends were the photographers. One of them refused to be paid because he wanted to give it as a gift for us. Another surprising gift from a friend. My other photographer was also the one who chaperoned my family. His patience and commitment was exemplary. I’m forever grateful for him.

Last but not least. The crew. We couldn’t have done all that without all the beautiful people who love us and help us willingly. Even my friends who came over from Jakarta, who supposed to be my guests, they all helped. That kind of support was just… I don’t  know how to describe it, I’m speechless. May God bless you all and all your kindness would be doubled in the future.


That’s our wedding. Yes, it was exhausting. Yes, it was stressful-we both had full-tight schedule. Yes, it was frustrating-we both fought even until just about an hour before the ceremony started. No, we wouldn’t have it the other way if we were given a second chance.

It was our best day.




Author: Maria Ambarastuti

A wife, a worker, a dreamer. trying to live her life to the fullest and continue to search for ways to enrich life. drop me an email for further chats:

15 thoughts on “My DIY Wedding”

  1. I love the go pro picture! And I love the thought put in your DIY wedding. It was the same for us. It was in many ways traditional and in many ways not. Most of all: it was OUR day, from the first minute to the last. We had a photo boot with the craziest accessoires we would possibly find and had TONS of fun with it – but it resulted in us not having any formal pictures with family. Luckily a good friend of ours brought his camera too and that left us some unexpected, heart warming shots from me and my parents. Guess the officials we hired (and payed tons pf money) had too much fun with the photo boot 😀


  2. So that was an interesting, self-to-do wedding. Thats the first of the kind I have ever seen as now most of the weddings are mostly a showcase of wealth and a way to brag. But the way you went with it……it was an interesting idea.
    So we were all planning for the whole “Blog Buddy” thingy. I have’nt started much but I will do as soon as I get over with my exams. I hope maybe we can make it a try together. So, please, check out my blog:
    P.S Just another writing FANATIC!!


    1. Hi 🙂
      Thank you for your kind words. No rush on the blog buddy thing, it’s just progress and i believe you wil find your blog buddy eventually. So your name is? And where are you from? I checked your page but didnt get that info, so probably I missed it. Anyways, good luck with your exams 😃


  3. I think having a wedding where the couple infused a lot of love care and intention for each other and for their guests is really the best way to have one. I am glad you shared the whole process and that it has been as lovely for you as a couple as well as for your wedding guests. Keep writing!


  4. It sounds like a wonderful wedding. It’s your special day, so I don’t blame you for wanting to get it exactly as you want it, not just as society tends to expect it to be.


    1. Hai Reni. Sure, apart from the air fare tickets and accomodation for family (because we had it in Jogja, so the whole family had to come to jogja), it cost me roughly about 35-40 mil rupiah. It includes everything, other than the stuff i mentioned in the blog, it also covers for flowers (hand bouquet, chapel+hall decorations), dress+suit (we had them made, not rent them), cake, building (both chapel+hall),MC.


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