Q&A With Helmi, Senior Wedding Planner & Total Ninja

How long have you been planning weddings and how did you become a planner?

I have been a wedding planner for 10 years now! Before I was a planner I worked as an English teacher in Java, then I came to Bali and one of my student’s mothers had a wedding company and she asked me to work as a planner, I said yes and I never looked back. I always say – I do what I love, and I love what I do!

How long before the big day should you start planning?

One year ahead is perfect. The reason is that the most important decision you can make is choosing your venue. Planning one year ahead gives you time to come to Bali first for an inspection of different venues if you, which lots of people find so helpful, and means you’re more likely to find your preferred date is available! Then, once you’ve selected your location, you can wait until six months in advance for everything else – food and beverage, photography and video, and vendors for the wedding such as your florist, hair and makeup, styling, entertainment etc.

What are some of the biggest mistakes couples make?

To be honest, I’ve never seen anyone make a big mistake. The planning process is sooo detailed that trust me, there’s no room for mistakes! Probably the main thing though that I do come across is people trying to make last-minute changes and reduce their number of guests below the minimum that the caterer’s agreement states, or book a really popular photographer the week before the wedding!

How many times during the planning process do you get in touch with a couple?

Haha I honestly cannot count! Now, with WhatsApp, people can be messaging me constantly – it never stops.

How many staff do you have on the day?

Well, technically it’s five in the planning team, but we work a lot with Vivre Catering and they have a massive operational team, honestly I’m not kidding it feels like they have thousands of staff, and we’re all in communication via walkie-talkie and they do an amazing job of making everything run smoothly.

How much would a couple expect to pay for a wedding planning service?

The average price is around $3,000AUD, which includes all the planning calls and communication in the lead up with the planner, booking and coordination of all other vendors, rehearsal and meetings pre-wedding, coordination on the day plus it includes the full team on the day – bride’s and groom’s assistants, runner, usher, driver and planner.

What happens if you’re sick on the wedding day?

Believe it or not, never on a wedding day! It’s this magical island I swear, I’ve lived here and been a wedding planner for ten years, and even if I’ve been sick the day before, I’ve always been ok on the wedding day! We’ve even had the backup planner all organised, and then on the day, I was fine. Maybe it’s because I truly believe if you have a positive attitude, positive things happen. I always stay positive, and things have always worked out. But just for peace of mind, in case it was the one time I did get sick, we would hire a backup planner for the day. I have so many contacts from my experience in the industry and I know all the best people I can call on if need be. 

What is the best way for couples to keep costs down?

Well, the venue you choose is the main thing. Luckily, two of our venues, Puri Bhagawan and Taman Bhagawan have the same owners as Vivre Catering which means Vivre always work to get the best price for us and work something out for our couples if need be

But hotels are always the cheapest option – I don’t normally like to recommend hotels though because I’ve seen somewhere there are 500 weddings booked in a year at a hotel and one planning team! It’s too much and you don’t get the same level of service.

The other way to keep costs reasonable is to choose the right vendors, which is where your planner can help. 

What’s your favourite thing about weddings?

I love seeing everyone on the day with the happiest smiles and happy tears. To see them happy and enjoying the moment – that’s my real favourite thing. 

What is in your magic box?

Ooh it’s a secret! No, it’s mostly just things I’ve learned from experience often come in handy. A little first aid kit, some balm to soothe itching, whether it’s an ant bite on the lawn or something itchy on the wedding dress, a little sewing kit, small scissors, those kinds of things!

How do you make sure couples love their wedding?

I always do a call in the last three months before they arrive in Bali so everything is organised and once they arrive in Bali they can sit back and relax. I always tell them, if you need anything – nannies, for example, or a driver, that’s why you hire me! I’m here to help, I want you to be relaxed.

On the day, the assistants treat them like a king and queen and are there to help, I say to the couple, if there’s anything you need, if your clothes got crinkled in the flight, don’t worry, the assistant will steam them for you! 

And if the bride is stressed, I always ask someone close to her maybe her mum or a bridesmaid or best friend, to help look out for her and keep her calm and happy. 

What do you do for fun when you’re not planning weddings?

I love dancing (and Zumba for exercise!) and hitting the beach. I don’t drink (I’m already crazy enough without alcohol!) but I love going out with my friends and socialising.