Some say love conquers all, and that may be especially true now during the coronavirus pandemic, as couples in Indonesia proceed with their marriage plans despite the very real possibility of getting infected.
Wedding officials from the Religious Affairs Office (KUA) are reportedly still being called on to join couples in holy matrimony in recent months, but with some added precautions from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
"Marriage registrations can still be conducted by the KUA. We have issued a policy on how the process can still be done while obeying preventative measures against the spread of COVID-19," the ministry's Director General of Islamic Education Kamaruddin Amin said in an official statement.
There are three things that must now be observed when tying the knot at KUA. Firstly, no more than 10 people can participate or attend a marriage ceremony, and that already includes the bride and groom.
Secondly, all participants are expected to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer while wearing masks prior to entering the room. Lastly, the KUA official and the groom must wear gloves and masks when they customarily shake hands during ijab kabul (wedding solemnization).
For ijab kabul held in places other than KUA offices, the policy states that it must be held outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms, with the same protocols as above.
In addition, some KUA services will be put on hold for the time being, including marriage guidance and consultation for couples.
As reported by Detik today, numerous heads of KUA offices in East Java have implemented the new regulations. Muhammad Robih, who heads the KUA office in the Deket sub-district of Lamongan regency, said marriage officials in the region have substituted the handshake with the namaste to avoid all physical contact.
"This means that we, in particular, and all citizens shall be kept away from various kinds of dangerous diseases," Robih told Detik.
Social distancing: time to postpone the wedding?
Is it time for low-key weddings? With the social distancing advisory put in place, many couples in Indonesia are expected to postpone or cancel their weddings – especially if they were initially scheduled between March and April.
Icha, a planner from Jakarta-based wedding organizer Simple Wedding, said that most of their clients have opted to reschedule their weddings over attendance concerns. One of her clients, for example, decided to register the marriage at KUA first and postpone the big event to mid-year.
"The first option is to go on with the planned event, but if a lockdown is put in place or the event is stopped [midway by authorities], our team will not be responsible for it as we would have warned them before," Icha told Coconuts today.
Icha said that the company has offered their clients the option to postpone their wedding receptions to later dates with no additional charge. Should the COVID-19 emergency period last longer than April, Icha said that they will go on to offering rescheduling options for weddings scheduled for June and July. However, their policy has yet to consider the possibility of the COVID-19 outbreak lasting until the end of this year.
With the possibility of holding a wedding reception anytime soon looking increasingly bleak, perhaps a KUA wedding for now so couples can wait out the COVID-19 pandemic together wouldn't be such a bad idea.