There is something interesting about Erlyn Lasar and Dion Lamanepa wedding mass and their marriage souvenirs that must be known broadly.
Lasar (27) and Lamanepa (28) had their Catholic wedding last June 18 at the Maumere Cathedral of St. Joseph, Flores Island, Indonesia.
The couple offered a plant and planted it in the churchyard at the time of their wedding Mass. Besides, they also gave plant souvenirs to all guests who attended their wedding reception.
“Giving plant souvenirs is not only for economic reasons, but it has an element of caring for our environment,” Lamanepa told Radio Veritas Asia.
Lasar and Lamanepa are currently working in Maumere, their home province. Lasar is an English teacher at Catholic Philosophy College Ledalero, Maumere, while Lamanepa teaches Physics at St. John Paul II Senior High School, Maumere.
They completed their undergraduate and graduate education at Jesuit-run Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Central Java.
During their stay in Yogyakarta, they witnessed how people treated wedding souvenirs given to guests. They just took it for granted and some even just ended up throwing those away, while the bride and groom spent a lot of money on these souvenirs.
"So, we want to find souvenirs that can make people remember that moment and are beneficial not only for humans but also for the environment," added Lamanepa.
When studying at Sanata Dharma, both were often involved in students’ activities, and the university always emphasized programs in which the environment was catered. Students were always encouraged to make eco-friendly and ecological programs.
“We got this idea from our college days. When we were dating and we were serious about getting married, we both talked about this wedding gift before we planned anything else,” explained Lasar about the idea of sharing plants.
She also said that they saw and experienced how to nurture nurseries and promote reforestation during the activities on campus.
"Because we are from Flores Island, these activities were something new that we have never had before," continued Lasar. "When we observed it, it turned out to be interesting because we could do small things for such a big impact," she added.
In Yogyakarta, they witnessed a couple of brides who gave plant seeds for their wedding souvenirs.
“We were reluctant to give plant seeds as our wedding souvenirs. We were afraid that they will not plant it when they get home,” said Lasar. "So, we made sure that the plants we gave them will be planted. That is why we arranged ready to plant trees," she continued.
After returning to Maumere, the duo told their parents about their wedding plans. The parents agreed with their ideas. Coming from an agricultural background, their respective parents accidentally have a hobby of farming. They were supportive and interested in the would-be couple’s plan.
Both carried out all the nursery processes. All plants were self-seeding, which began after the engagement, about eight months before the wedding day.
Initially, Lamanepa collected husks and soil to cultivate the plants. All needed plant seeds were available in Maumere. All seeds were local plants that did not need to be imported from other areas. They prepared a variety of fruits, vegetables and flower plants. Altogether there were about 1,400 plants that were provided.
“We provided a large number of fruits, vegetables and flower plants considering that not everyone in Maumere had enough land to plant large trees,” explained Lamanepa.
“Not only that, but we also provide other plants that are distributed to those who were willing to plant and have sufficient land, such as, curry tree, jackfruit tree and others," he added.
It took quite a long time when they started pant nursery as the couple collected the seeds of selected plants in certain seasons.
Moreover, the seeding and planting of different plants did not happen at the same time. They did this so that the size of the plants would be less when the same were to be distributed.
“The costs we were spending were affordably moderate,” said Lamanepa. “We only bought poly bags for plants’ nurseries, while soil and all plant seeds were available around us.”
As the family supported them, they suggested having an ecological wedding concept, including wedding receptions and Mass offerings.
“During the wedding Mass, nothing was brought to the church for our offertory except for one tree that we planted in the churchyard afterward,” recalls Lasar.
The parish priest blessed the tree the couple planted.
The couple now has a special plan to take care of the tree they planted every week and ensure that it thrives.
“We hope that what we are doing will be an inspiration for other parishes. Hopefully, this will become one of the requirements of the Marriage Preparation Course, where couples are encouraged and required to plant a tree either in the church or in the rectory,” said Lasar.
Meanwhile, the people were surprised and still felt strange with the wedding souvenir, however, they were happy when they returned home with plants. Gladly, some of them even asked for more.
At first, the couple felt overwhelmed about the distribution because there were also people who did not want to plant Moringa, as they had it in their house. Giving coupons with crop codes to guests was their solution.
“Finally, they feel happy because even though there are many Moringa, it was the only wedding souvenir Moringa tree at their home. So now, if we meet these people who came to our weddings, they always tell us how they take care of the plants we gave them,” said Lasar.
Their educational background is the reason they choose a tree as a symbol of this couple's marriage.
“So something must be analogous to something that grows,” she explained.
Seeing such a long journey to the stage of marriage, they want to have one testament, but a living monument (plant) that can be cared for with love and not forgotten.
“And we see all that in a plant. So if we forget to take care of the plant, it will die,” said Lasar. “Like our love, it must be nurtured, cared for and cherished.”
What Lasar and Lamanepa are doing is inspiring to the young people in the parish and their peers. There were desires from them to do the same. Although they were initially shocked, they appreciated what the couple did.
"Maybe, there used to be an idea from them but because no one has started it, so they think it is impossible," explained the couple.
Maumere is an area that lacks water or an arid region. Giving plant seeds to plants is a difficult thing but that does not mean it is impossible.
For this reason, people were reluctant to do so. Nature provides many things. It becomes an alternative for young people who are planning to get married. In addition to economic value, giving plants has great benefits and impacts the environment and humans.
"From this experience, we want to inspire others not to think that what is too expensive for their souvenir, when this is done, it can be more meaningful," they said.
They also hope that this will not only inspire young Catholics, but also the church. It takes time to get to this stage, but consistency can help this program happen.
"We hope the church will actualize this in the program, especially for those who are getting married. So, the tree-planting program is systemized from the parish to invite couples who are getting married to think about ecological actions," they said.
Previously, several couples also planted and offered plants at the church in Maumere, but when it comes to distributing plants as wedding souvenirs, we are the first to do so.
Maumere Diocese is located in the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). It has 36 parishes, with a total of 294,600 Catholics (86.7%) out of a total population of 339,600.
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