The complete guide to planning your ultimate Bali Wedding in 2020
Congratulations on your engagement and welcome to our definitive guide to getting married in Bali!
Choosing to tie the knot in tropical paradise gives you a chance to take advantage of epic locations, luxury and value for money. But, organising a Bali wedding can be a bit of a nightmare if you don’t have solid research and good people on your side.
This is why we’ve put together a completely unbiased A-Z guide to Bali weddings to help you put together your big day. It will arm you with all the things you need to know before you set a date, choose a planner or commit to any contracts.
In our years on the island, we’ve gathered a fair amount of knowledge, so the guide has some straight-up advice about everything from the best wedding locations to choosing the most reliable vendors and even the ceremony laws you need to know before getting married in Bali.
It’s not a promotional tool, it’s been put together by experts, and it’ll help you to stay sane as you plan an unforgettable Bali wedding. We are launching it section by section so you can pick and choose the areas you want advice on.
You can also download the full guide in a PDF here if you’d like a copy for later.
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We don't blame you - wedding planning can be full on!
Oh hooray! You’re getting married, woohoo! We couldn’t be happier to welcome you to this journey, and we hope you have the best Bali wedding experience ever.
Once the engagement celebrations have settled down a little, we encourage you to start thinking about the event early and give yourself a chance to explore every option before you make any big decisions.
Where To Begin?
The key to having the Bali wedding of your dreams is to stay on top of the process. There will be loads of emails and phone calls between now and the big day, so doing your research is essential.
As a couple planning a wedding, you can expect to be dealing with everything from vendor quotes to costing spreadsheets and photo samples. There will be times where it pays to negotiate, and times you should just go with the flow. Knowing when to push and when to settle will make the process so much smoother.
Also, it may sound annoyingly obvious, but a good system of communication and some rock-solid organisational habits will ensure you don’t end up feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
To help keep you sane in this first stage, we’ve included some recommendations for wedding planning apps.
Below are some of the best wedding planning applications on the market. It’s as simple as downloading them and filling in the gaps. In particular, we love Joy; it offers the option of creating a website for your family and guests to refer to in the weeks and months before the wedding.
Note: While these apps can help you to stay organised, there’s nothing better than having a pair of hands on the ground in Bali. You can find out more about this and get some recommendations for planners in the “Choosing a planner” section of this guide or check out Bali Love’s planning services here.
Set Your Expectations High!
After seeing more than our fair share of Bali weddings, we’ve become super clear on what works and what doesn’t. To be frank, there are some common traps that couples fall into. So to save you from the same fate we thought we’d lay them out. The goal is to set your expectations high!
|What you DON’T want||What you DO want|
|An event that feels and looks cheap but still goes over budget.||Financial accountability and clarity so you have total control.|
|A package with all the various elements decided for you and limited opportunity to tailor the event.||A tailor made experience that’s flexible! A package is great as long as you have a say on the elements to either upgrade or choose a more affordable option.|
|A logistical nightmare with language difficulties preventing sane communication.||World class staff who are supremely organised. People who show up on time and respond to your emails in English or Indonesian.|
|An incredibly expensive but cold and unfeeling event, a sense of being in a wedding production line!||A unique and personal experience that reflects your personality and gives you an unforgettable sense of yourselves as a couple|
|A DIY nightmare that causes you anxiety with constantly changing times and amateur photography.||Professional vendors working together to achieve your vision. A sense of trust that everyone is on board with your vision.|
|A flakey planner who’s never available and seems critical about your choices when she is.||A planner who understands you and is willing to make your needs a priority!|
|A company who promises the world but doesn’t deliver on the big day.||A realistic and honest journey where expectations meet reality and you have plenty of warning should things go wrong.|
To ensure you’re further prepared, we’ve also included a list of vital questions to ask before you pay any deposits. You can find that in the next chapter of this guide.
The research stage of planning your Bali wedding can be loads of fun. You’ll be floored with stunning images of lush jungle venues, beautiful dresses and glorious sunsets. The trick is knowing where to look and what questions to ask as you start to form your own ideas.
While it may be tempting to just type in ‘Bali weddings’ and see what comes up in a Google search, you’ll get better results by visiting some specific websites so you can compare and contrast your options.
Your mind may start spinning a little with the sheer number of decisions to make but keep your research general for now. In other words, before you click on the pricing links for a specific wedding company, try restricting yourself to images that define the look and feel you want for your big day.
We recommend keeping it easy to manage with Pinterest boards or even just a bookmark folder on your computer. One of the first things a wedding planner will ask you is to create a mood board so the goal is to step into the planning stage with some saved images on these two foundational points.
1. The Setting
Do you like the idea of a casual beach wedding, a jungle-style event, a clifftop ceremony, a waterfall setting or an event inside a hotel or villa. Each of these has pros and cons, but those factors can be navigated along the way! You can find out more about Bali wedding venues in the venues chapter!
2. tHE COLOURS
Look at the various colour schemes other couples have used and consider which would match your skin tone and preferences. The colours of your outfits will eventually be reflected in the styling of the venue, so this is one of the first things to get clear on.
Once you get clear on these two points, you’ll be so much closer to making the big decisions for your Bali wedding. Of course, as you research you’re likely to see dresses, hairstyles and cakes you love, so don’t forget to save those things too!
You can find out more about colours for your wedding in the Styling chapter! In the meantime, we have listed a range of different websites and social media pages to get your research phase started. These are some of the well-known wedding companies in Bali and also some Australian based companies that run events on the island too.
These websites should give you plenty of ideas and inspiration. We particularly recommend the first on the list as it’s the closest thing Bali has to a wedding magazine. It features different types of weddings and is not biased to vendors or venues. Enjoy!
Websites for Researching
The legal aspects of getting married in Bali differ according to which religion you follow, your country (or countries) of origin, and whether or not there is a consulate for your home country on the island.
In many cases, the legal complexities mean it’s far easier for couples to do the paperwork at a registry in their home country before having their wedding celebrations in Bali. Read on to find out if this is the path for you.
Declaring A Shared Religion
If you want to ‘officially’ marry in Bali, you are required by law to have a religious ceremony, and each of you will need to declare the same religion.
The religions recognised in Indonesia are as follows:
- Protestant Christianity
- Roman Catholic Christianity
As Indonesia is an extremely religious country, you will both need to declare a shared faith in one of the above religions or consider having a non-religious, symbolic ceremony with the official signing of documents done at home.
Skip down to the section called Symbolic Ceremonies to find out more about this.
The Documents You Need For A Religious Ceremony
If you both follow one of the above religions, then you can confidently begin preparing the documents you will need to have an official ceremony here.
- Passports proving you are over 18 years old.
- Copy of Decree Absolute if divorced.
- Copy of Death Certificate of a former spouse if applicable.
- Copy of Documentary evidence of any change of name (e.g., previous marriage certificate/deed poll).
- Birth certificates are generally required by the Indonesian authorities, and it is recommended that you bring these with you.
- Money (the amount varies) to pay the embassy.
- A certificate of non-impediment.
The Process For A Religious Ceremony
Further to your declaration of shared faith, each of the religions has slightly different rules to follow. We have laid out the process for the three most common religions on the list, and you can visit the embassy website for more information.
Protestant Weddings In Bali
If you want to get legally married in Bali than declaring your faith as Protestant is the easiest and most common way to go forward. Follow the steps below to prepare for this type of wedding.
Step A: Give notice of your intention to marry
To do this, you will need to visit the civil registry office in the region you are staying in Bali. There are eight regions, but we recommend The Badung or Tabanan offices as they have more English speaking staff. Once you’ve located the right office, get in touch with them and ask to apply for a document called a Notice of Intention to Marry. You will need to get this filled in and lodged at least six weeks before the date of your wedding.
The regions: Denpasar City, Badung Regency, Tabanan Regency, Gianyar Regency, Bangli Regency, Bangli Regency, Karangasem Regency and Buleleng Regency.
Here is a regularly updated tourism website with the office addresses.
Step B: Get a Certificate of Non-Impediment (CIN)
This document basically states that there’s no reason you shouldn’t be married. You will be able to secure it in one of three ways. Either from your home country before you leave, from your embassy here in Bali, or with a quick flight to your embassy in Jakarta.
Here is some more information on the CIN and how to apply for it here in Bali.
Note: Most but not all countries have an embassy here in Bali. You can refer to this website to discover whether yours is on the list and determine whether you will need to fly to Jakarta.
Muslim Weddings in Bali
Muslim weddings are quite easy to organise as Indonesia is predominantly a Muslim country. You also don’t need to have your wedding in a mosque. All you will need to do is provide proof that you are Muslim and contact the Office of Religious Affairs who will send out an official to marry you.
Catholic Weddings in Bali
Catholic weddings are a little more tricky. First off, you will need to hold the ceremony in a Catholic Church with a Catholic priest. There are a couple of lovely churches in Denpasar or Nusa Dua, but this restriction removes the opportunity to take advantage of the other beautiful wedding venues in Bali. Of course, it’s well within your rights to throw a giant party at a picturesque location after the ceremony. Secondly, there’s a lot more paperwork to be completed.
- Baptismal certificates.
- A letter of freedom that states you have never been married.
- A letter of delegation that states your own parish does not object.
- A copy of your pre-marriage course certificate.
Symbolic ceremonies are an excellent option for those who follow a religion that’s not recognised in Bali or those who aren’t religious at all. For foreigners, the number of symbolic ceremonies held in Bali far outweighs the number of formal weddings, so this may be the better option for you too. Discover the benefits below.
- No paperwork required other than the forms you complete in your own country at the registry office.
- More cost-effective as you won’t need to pay embassy fees.
- A celebrant can marry you instead of a priest.
- There’s no need to declare your faith or to be the same faith.
- Freedom of ceremony style – you can have religious themes or make it non-denominational.
Sadly, gay weddings are forbidden in Bali so partners of the same sex may want to look elsewhere for a wedding destination. While a private symbolic ceremony is certainly an option, you should be aware that the authorities are very unforgiving. Due to the strict laws in Indonesia, it’s a risk we don’t recommend taking.
Choosing a venue is the biggest and most expensive decision you’ll need to make as you plan your wedding. Luckily, in Bali, you’re not short on options. Below we have included a few venue choices to consider and some key questions to get clear on what you want before you book one!
Do you want an indoor or an outdoor wedding?
This question is especially relevant if you’re planning an event that falls in the offseason. At certain times of the year, Bali wedding venues can be booked for less, but before you jump at that option, keep the weather in mind. The rainy season usually begins in December, peaks in late February and ends by early April. It may not be raining every day during these months, but if you’re considering an outdoor venue, it pays to check if a marquee is included in the budget.
How many people will you be inviting?
The general rule is that the more people you invite, the fewer options you have. While there are bigger venues that can seat and cater for as many as 200 guests, you may want to consider cutting numbers so you can take advantage of one of the smaller, more exclusive venues.
Do you want your venue to include accommodation?
The best wedding venues have an exclusive suite for the bride and groom. This is great as you can settle in once place and relax for the entire event. The other option is to organise transport to a hotel or villa close by. Some wedding venues are even big enough to cater for the whole bridal party, but few will also have enough space to accommodate all of your guests.
Will the reception be held in the same place?
If you want to be married in a church, then you’ll need to book a separate reception venue, but the ideal wedding venue offers space for everything. Bali weddings work really well when the day flows from the welcome drinks to the ceremony, then onward to a photography session and finally your reception. It is definitely possible to organise transport for guests to go from one venue to another, but this does take time and effort, so try to keep an eye out for an ‘all in one’ location.
Is total privacy a factor?
There’s something very sacred about inviting everyone you love to celebrate your wedding, and the presence of tourists or holidaymakers can vastly effect that vibe. This is an issue that many couples don’t consider when they’re researching venues, but it’s especially relevant if you’re considering a resort or hotel-style wedding. Most Bali wedding venues are private but if you are considering a hotel or a resort, make sure you ask about where and when you’ll have your privacy.
Do you prefer a church?
If you’re planning a religious wedding, there are several different churches we can recommend, however, keep in mind that you will also need to book a reception venue and your accommodation in the area. Ask your wedding planner for more advice on this; there are a couple of companies that offer specialist Catholic or Protestant style weddings with pre-booked venues. Note: there are also a few venues that have a chapel built into the property so if you love the thought of a church style wedding on a villa property then check them out below.
What setting do you prefer?
Choosing a setting for your wedding is perhaps the most fun of all of the venue decisions. If you had a chance to read the research chapter earlier in this guide then you may already have your heart set on a jungle, a beach or a clifftop setting, if you’re still unsure, check out the photos of the venues below.
These wedding venues are located in different spots across the island, but we’ve started by ordering them according to the venue type – rather than the address – to help you narrow down your search.
You can read more about the pros and cons of having a wedding in the different regions of Bali later in this chapter.
If you prefer to choose your venue by area, then you should know a little about the four most wedding friendly regions of Bali. You can certainly travel to more remote locations but here’s a brief rundown of the most common areas on the island to help you in the research stage.
Seminyak is the closest thing to a city centre that Bali has. Here you’ll be very close to loads of bars, restaurants, shops, spas and hotels. It’s an ideal area to choose if you have many guests coming to your wedding, but it is busier so you’ll be dealing with heavy traffic and longer wait times. One positive is that you can walk almost anywhere without too much trouble.
Canggu is where many of the beach style venues are located, it’s also a busy area with lots of restaurants and cafes, but here you’re more likely to find intact rice paddies. Canggu was once a laid back surf village, but it has become more densely populated over the last five years. If you head out to the neighbouring area of Pererenan, you can still find some of the iconic peace and quiet that Bali is famous for.
This coastal area is famous for its limestone cliff tops and offers dozens of stunning wedding venues. Uluwatu is located approximately 40 minutes from Seminyak. Here you’ll find roads that are not yet sealed, incredible surf breaks and a lot more privacy. It is a growing region, and there are still plenty of restaurants and bars, but you will have to travel by scooter or car to get around as it’s more spread out.
Known as the spiritual centre of Bali, Ubud is located around an hour north of Seminyak. Nature is abundant, and you’ll find some beautiful jungle style venues and rice paddies here. The air is significantly cooler, and it rains more frequently. It’s a very culture and artistic region that has become popular with the yoga and spiritual community over the last decade.
Planning a destination wedding can be tricky, and even the most organised couples will need a trustworthy set of eyes and ears on the ground in Bali. The best way by far to ensure your day goes off without a hitch is to employ a wedding planner who lives on the island and can speak Indonesian.
He or she will be your trusted ally from the moment you begin thinking about colours and venues, to the moment you slip the rings on each other’s fingers.
How to identify a top-notch wedding planner
When you’re thinking about choosing a wedding planner, make sure they embody the following qualities.
- Excellent communication skills and quick response time to your emails or phone calls.
- An ability to fully understand your vision for the wedding and communicate it to others.
- Total fluency with mood boards and a vast library of image options to offer when you’re deciding on the styling.
- A well-developed sense of intuition so she can recognise the best way to manage any tricky situations before they happen
- Expert advice on which Bali venue you should choose. She should be able to give you the inside word on the pros and cons of each.
- Excellent contacts for the best vendors to take care of the food, the entertainment, the photography and the flowers.
- An extensive knowledge of the island and how you can pull together a stunning event without blowing your budget.
- Great under pressure! She should be able to solve problems quickly without stressing out.
- Friendly and fun, she should love her job and see your wedding as an important event rather than a day to get through.
- Reliability! She must be responsible and show up when she says she’s going to or have a rock-solid plan B in place if illness happens
- A people person – she should be an excellent manager who can take charge of others who may be floundering.
Questions To Ask Your Prospective Planner
When you’re searching for a planner, there are a few main areas you want to get clear on. Read on to find out how to ask the right questions.
Cost is a hard one for planners to identify on a first meeting. There are so many variables that it’s almost impossible to give you a figure until you’ve spent some time communicating your vision for the event. One thing you can do is share your overall budget for the wedding then challenge them to find a way to work within it.
Here are some pertinent questions to ask as you discuss cost:
If the planner already works for a wedding company, make sure you ask which package would suit you the best.
When looking at a Bali wedding package, ask if any of the elements can be customised to reduce cost.
Ask early about any extra costs that aren’t included.
Ask about the different pricing for vendor services like food and photography; you may be able to get the same item for cheaper by choosing a less experienced vendor or offering a different style of dining.
Ask about off-season and shoulder season rates; it may save you some money to book during a less popular time of year.
Ask your planner if they can help you decide where to skimp and where to increase your budget. There are some things that really matter and others where you can cut costs without anyone noticing.
Ask the planner if they have a portfolio of images or an Instagram page you can look through. The ideal planner will have created weddings in many different styles. There are a few companies in Bali that do cookie-cutter type ceremonies so avoid them at all costs! You want your day to be unique.
Ask if they can create a mood board for your wedding, so you know they have understood your vision for the event before the planning starts.
Ask the planner if he or she has worked before with the colour scheme or style you have chosen and then ask for samples of those weddings.
Ask about her ideas for styling and whether she can give you a list of floral and venue dressing designs.
Indonesia does have hospitality schools, but unlike Australia or Europe, there aren’t any specific wedding planner qualification courses. This means you should ask your prospective planner about his or her experience. They should have dozens of weddings under their belt and be able to offer testimonials from couples.
Ask how many weddings they do each year, you want to make sure you’re not being crammed into a schedule that’s so full you won’t get the attention you deserve.
Ask if they’ve done weddings at your venue before, if not, ask if they have experience with the type of venue you are planning to use. For example, beach weddings are very different from clifftop weddings, so make sure they know all the factors involved.
Ask if they can take you on a site visit pre-wedding to check out various venues and whether there is a charge for this service.
If you’re not sure about their personality, ask them who their ideal client is. You want to determine whether or not you will work well together before you commit to paying a fee.
Ask about their preferred type of communication. Will they be open to hearing from you via Whatsapp or do they prefer email. Will there be weekly phone calls or skype meetings? And most importantly, will they be available in person for a final meeting before your wedding
Ask them about timelines, do they have an idea of when the more significant decisions need to be made and are they able to stick with a schedule.
Ask about their relationships with the various vendors in Bali; you want to know if you’ll be locked in to use their preferred vendors, or if they are open to you bringing your own people on board.
Ask if they receive a commission for using certain vendors and whether that commission can be translated into savings for you instead of kick-back for them.
Ask if they are willing to collaborate with the whole bridal party and manage all of the different services that you will be hiring.
Ask which staff they will have on-hand during the day and who will be taking care of what as the wedding progresses from arrival drinks to ceremony to reception..
Bali Wedding Planners We Love
Here are a few of our favourite Bali wedding planners. Have a browse and see if anyone calls to you. Be aware that most wedding companies will offer you a planner as part of the service so you could save extra time and money by choosing a package.
One of the most important things to remember when you are creating a budget for your Bali wedding is to be realistic. While it is very affordable to get married in Bali, the growing popularity of the island as a wedding destination means it’s not as cheap as it was five years ago.
However, when compared to the cost of getting married in Australia, Europe or the United States, Bali still comes out as the clear winner for both cost and quality. A standard wedding in a more developed country will run between 60-80,000 Australian dollars. For that, you’ll get a pretty nice venue with all the trimmings.
A wedding in Bali will cost approximately half that amount and the quality is not even comparable. The venues here are exquisite and the ‘trimmings’ are lush as well as affordable! For half the amount you would expect to pay at home for a pretty nice wedding you can secure an epic, luxurious and truly dazzling Bali wedding. This is why couples from all over the globe are flocking here to marry.
So the question becomes… how do you take into account the growing popularity of Bali as a wedding destination but still secure a great price?
Here’s our best advice:
- Do your planning and set a smart wedding date early. Specifically, you may want to avoid weekends to get the best price and the best choice of suppliers and vendors for your wedding.
- Have fair expectations around your budget. Try to keep in mind that your best bet is to be prepared to pay a mid-range price for a very high-quality vendor. If you decide to go for bottom dollar services, you should expect to get bottom dollar service.
- Make the process easy by using a planner or wedding company who is empowered to negotiate on your behalf and can secure you discounts and kickbacks.
- Seek advice from experts rather than inexperienced companies who have set up to capitalise on the growing industry.
A Word About Package Deals
First of all, wedding package deals can be totally awesome! They are a great way to save money and get a gorgeous wedding to boot. The disclaimer is this: Choose the right one and before you choose, ask all of these questions!
Is the offer transparent?
You need to make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting for your money. That means checking in on the quality of the vendors they will be using for your wedding. You don’t want or need bottom dollar service.
Is the offer flexible?
Can you change any aspects of the package that you’re not happy with? For example, can you downgrade the flowers in order to upgrade the bar tab or vice versa? Also, do you get to choose from different vendors? Will you be able to switch if you don’t like the celebrant or makeup artist?
Is the offer all-inclusive?
Is everything really included? This means asking about any extra costs at the beginning and making sure the package fairly allocates for all items. One common trap is the bar tab. Check to see how much the drinks are charged out for. While it may seem generous to allocate $2,000 to a bar tab, if they’re charging out each cocktail at $20 then 100 guests will easily plough through that tab and end up thirsty. You need to make sure it says ‘free flow’ to prevent the extra costs.
Your Bali Wedding Budget
Wedding planners in more developed countries will recommend you use a ‘percentage of budget’ allocation to define the costs for each item. In Bali, things are a lot more simple. To help, here is a spreadsheet with the average costs of each expense in your wedding already defined. So have at it and enjoy the planning!
Ps – If you’re not a numbers person, feel free to contact Tom at Bali Love for help. He can sort you out with a sweet budget and you won’t be pressured to use our services along the way.
Styling is what makes your wedding YOUR wedding! So when you’re choosing a style for the event, make sure you cover the following points with your planner.
It pays to be aware that while some planners do their own styling, others will employ an outside party which could come at an extra cost for you. Your styling options should be made clear in your planner interview.
To make sure you know about the various styling types for your Bali wedding read on to discover the three points every wedding stylist should know
The first decision in your Bali wedding styling journey is choosing the colour palettes. You may have already determined your preference in the research section of this guide, but just in case you missed that part, here’s all you need to know about choosing a colour palette for your Bali wedding.
Start by answering the following questions:
- What colours do you and your partner love?
- What colours do you like to wear?
- What colours do you have in your home?
- Of the wedding photos you’ve seen, which ones look the best?
Six Colour Palette Pro Tips
During the research process for this guide we spoke to a few stylists and came back with the following pro tips for couples looking to choose a colour scheme for their wedding.
1. Ask your computer
If you’re stuck for colour combos then definitely try one of these free applications or websites. They have similar names but they’re quite different and will give you some great ideas.
This website lets you upload an image to extract the exact colours you see in the photo. It’s a great way to avoid miscommunication and get the perfect match.
This website has a nice layout that shows you how your colour choices will look when matched together. It’s almost like choosing from different paint samples at the home decoration store.
2. Make the colour palette global
Remember, it’s not just the dresses and the flowers that will reflect your colour scheme, it’s the whole event! Everything from the stationery to the table dressings to the background of the photos can be taken into account.
3. Try choosing just one colour
If you can’t choose three colours you like, just choose one and ask your stylist or planner to recommend some complementary colours that will set your favourite colour off perfectly.
4. Don’t forget to contrast
Contrast is impactful so it pays to choose one darker toned colour in your palette and then use medium or light toned colours to complete the look. This applies unless you’ve chosen to have a light coloured, shimmery wedding with a palette like white, silver and grey.
5. Don’t be too enthusiastic
Try not to match bold colours with bold colours, you may love purple and orange, but it’s best to pull back and use one or the other as you may run the risk of the event’s colour scheme clashing.
6. Pull in natural elements
If your Bali wedding venue has a lot of wood, stone or bamboo built into the villa consider incorporating that into your colour palette. It’ll make for incredible photos and your venue will match your wedding!
Your wedding theme is almost like a motif. It’s a styling principle that can further guide every element of your big day. To be honest, while it’s lovely, having a theme is not that big of a deal and can cost you more in the long run. We’ve often found that a colour scheme is enough, after all is has an inbuilt theme of love!
However, if you are after a detail-oriented wedding you need to be really clear about this in the planning stage as it will need to be reflected in all of your styling choices. When deciding a theme remember to consider the tones, textures and angles of your wedding.
Making sure your theme is reflected and recurring throughout will mean it’s effectively received by your guests, AND captured in the wedding imagery. One small example is the typography and the table dressings you use, making sure these match is an easy way to get your theme across without too much effort.
Below we’ve listed some theme ideas for your Bali wedding. Be aware that some of them will be more costly to assemble, but follow your heart and seek a quote at least! It’s almost 100% possible that a wedding planner in Bali can make it come to life for you.
Vintage style weddings are simply stunning. A taste of the old world can be incorporated in everything! From the chairs you choose, to the beautifully aged floral arrangements. You could have a vintage style car to drive you away like Bonnie and Clyde, or even a horse and cart if you want to evoke an earlier era. You can ask for antique style decor and music then consider bringing a certain decade or period of time into your outfit and makeup plans.
One lovely example is to have your bridesmaids dressed as sophisticated flapper girls of the 1940’s with long pearl necklaces, lined stockings and perfectly curled hair. The great thing about vintage themes is that you can simply choose an era and give your planner or stylist a brief to get creative.
Alternative weddings are for those who just don’t like tradition. The scope for this theme is wide and varied! We suggest you start with an edgy colour palette and scrap all formality. Try punchy colours and mismatched furniture. You can do anything you like, but attempt to use some of your favourite hobbies to guide the theme. One tip though, even if you don’t like tradition, the day still needs to have some structure so you can feed your guests on time and enjoy each other.
Maybe you have a late night ceremony, a shaman to marry you, a bonfire with belly dancers, or even just an anti-wedding party where the drinks flow all night and you don’t make much of the ceremony. There are so many cool ways to express your personality to don’t be afraid to push your stylist until they’ve found the perfect theme for you.
A biodegradable or recycling-themed wedding is not only good for the planet, it’s likely to save you money. In this case, think paper plates and cups, second hand dresses, plants instead of flowers, candle light instead of electricity, donations to charities instead of gifts and an eco friendly venue. Bali has some amazing eco village type venues so if you’re not worried about things being a little ‘rustic’ then ask your planner to find you something magic.
The guiding principles of bohemian style are cool and carefree. Bare feet, flowy dresses, casual low seating and lots of throw pillows or rugs. You can use tribal style artwork, have quaint glass bottles as candle holders and so much more. This is perhaps one of the most artistic themes and there’s space for all sorts of ideas.
Conveniently, Bali is particularly famous for its hipster and bohemian lifestyle which means there are oodles of crochet and macrame weaved accessories here. If a Bohemian style wedding is your dream, then your Bali wedding stylist won’t be short of inspiration.
A romantic wedding theme is always very feminine and soft. The flowers will play a huge part of the day and your colour palette will be more pastel than bright. Think calligraphy, arches dripping with roses and subdued lighting. We love the look of hanging chandeliers, wicker bird cages, soft linen napkins and dresses in classic white or cream for this theme.
There’s nothing more beautiful than the moment you walk down a rose petal scattered aisle and stand under a canopy of flowers to say ‘I do’. High-quality flower arrangement will really ‘up the ante’ of your wedding day and they provide a backdrop for stunning images. They visually create a romantic atmosphere, but their scent will also make the moment of your wedding day a lasting memory – one that can be conjured up anytime you smell your favourite blooms in the future.
The Challenges Of Getting Flowers In Bali
The main challenge to sourcing flowers in Bali is the climate. Not too many flowers are grown locally, which means wedding flowers here are generally imported from other places in Indonesia. Surabaya and West Java are the most common regions florists will source your flowers from because the soil quality is better and there are more stable temperatures. For you, this means ordering your flowers early and factoring in an extra cost for the freighting fees.
However, not all of the flowers used in Bali weddings are imported. There are some talented florists on the island who can use local blooms and jungle style palms and fronds that can save you money while still creating amazing arrangements. Check out our Bali flower dictionary below!
Choosing Your Wedding Flowers
Choosing flowers for your Bali wedding is actually easier than it sounds. Yes, it does pay to know the names of your favourite blooms, but the most important factor is your colour palette. Then you should also consider your venue location, if it’s on a clifftop, for example, the flowers should be more sturdily arranged to compensate for any wind.
Working with a good florist will ease the process, and your planner can probably connect you with them in person. See our list of florists below if you want to interview any of them now!
Things to keep in mind when you’re speaking with a florist – other than the colours – are the budget and the style of your wedding. If you’re going for a classical or romantic style event then they’ll recommend soft, feminine arrangements with orchids, roses and more classic blooms. If you want an edgy or alternative look then you can ask for more unique flowers like heliconia, fresh bamboo, anthuriums & even combinations of unusual vegetation, like berries and palm fruits.
One really good tip is to hand over the reins on the decision making and send your florist a mood board of the wedding style. Then you can ask for their recommendations and take full advantage of their creativity and knowledge.
Your Flowers Checklist:
There are many different types of floral arrangements beyond the basic bridal bouquet, so take a look down this list and speak with your planner about which flowers will suit your venue.
- Bridal and bridesmaid bouquets
- Groom and groomsmen’s boutonnieres
- Hair flowers or crowns for the bridal party
- Flower girl posies and petals to scatter
- Altar flowers in an arch or canopy
- Aisle flowers in urns to decorate the seating
- Centrepiece flowers for the reception tables
- Registration or cake table flowers
- A pathway of rose petals for you to walk down
Discover A Florist’s Dream
During our research for this chapter we asked a well-known florist in Bali to think about the best, most beautiful flower arrangements he could recommend for a wedding. His response was inspiring and gives weight to the idea that it’s better to trust the florist’s creative vision than try to control everything yourself. Oh, and don’t worry, we’ve included the names and pictures of all the different types of flowers below so you will know what you’re talking about!
“My dream wedding client would allow me to use masses of phalaenopsis orchids, clumped succulents, mauve dolcetto roses, canopies of flowers & foliage over the guest tables to give a luxurious & lush appearance. We would also provide elegant table decoration using classic candelabras and a trail of flowers down the centre of each table to match the bridal theme.”
“The ceremony area would be dressed in all white and green. We’d use a classic French-styled iron gazebo covered in white roses, trailing white phalaenopsis orchids and tropical foliage. Flower urns would be placed down the aisle then filled with matching flowers and branches with hanging crystals for the bridal party to walk under. Of course, there would be a thick pathway of all-white rose petals for the bride’s grand entrance.”
The level of creativity and joy florists embody when they’re imagining weddings is beyond most of us! So our best advice is to find a florist with good reviews and then trust them to create a wedding that resembles a dreamland! Below are some of the Bali florists we love so check out their websites and start getting excited!
Your Bali Flower Dictionary
This list isn’t 100% complete but we’ve tried to include every flower mentioned in this guide and the common flowers you can source in Bali
As a rule, these are the flowers that grow on the island of Bali.
Heliconias, anthuriums, ginger flowers, phalaenopsis orchids (purple and white), lotus flowers (seasonal).
Roses, gerberas, chrysanthemums, tuberoses, sunflowers, marigold, bachelor button, frangipani.
– Limonium Caspea Purple
– Lisianthus CH White
– Lisianthus Champagne
– Lisianthus Light Pink
– Lily Double Petals White
– Lily Double Petals Pink
– Eu. Populus
– Eu. Berries
– Eu. Cinerea
– Eu. Parvifolia
– Gr. Ruskus Italy
– Gr. Herbs Olive
– Viburnum With Berries
– Calla Lily Pink
– Bouvardia White
– Cymbidium White
– Cymbidium Red
– Cymbidium Orange
– Cymbidium Green
– Tulip Pink Dynasti
– Tulip Royal Virgin
– Tulip Strong Gold Yellow
– Carnation Peach Apple Tea
– Carnation Light Pink
– Carnation Green
– Roses Lavender Ocean Song
– Roses Amnesia
– Roses Sandy
– Roses Hypnoses
– Roses Red Explorer
– Grose Mayra Red
– Grose Caraluna
– Hydrangea White
– Statice CH White
– Protea King Pink
Choosing your Bali wedding furniture is exciting! This is where you’ll start to see the shape of your wedding come into focus but it’s also a decision which requires taking into account a few important factors. Luckily, your planner will be able to guide you through most of the process, especially as she is likely to know the Bali venue well.
Below is a list of things to consider as you begin looking at your wedding furniture options.
This is an obvious one, of course, you want to make sure everyone has a seat at the table and ceremony! But the number of guests you invite is also relevant as you begin to select the bar furniture or outfit the lounge area. You should cater for about 50% of the guests wanting a seat in these areas.
Your theme and colour
Your furniture choices should be made to fit the theme and colour palette of your wedding. As you will see below, a chair is so much more than a chair and a table can make or break an event! The furniture at your wedding is the foundation that your colours will be built on so keep these in mind as you browse your options.
The Venue configuration
Also, keep in mind the following points. Is it an indoor or outdoor space? Do you have multiple rooms to cover? Where will people be relaxing, where will the coats and bags be stored (other than the back of your chair) and do you have a smoker’s area planned? Also, does the bar area need seating and will you set up a lounge space for guests to use while you and your partner get photos.
Visualise the event
To assist with your furniture decisions it’s important to imagine your wedding as if you were a guest. As each person arrives they will need to drop off their gift at a gifting table, sign the guest book then enjoy a welcome drink at the entry area of the venue. They will then move on and require a seat at the ceremony. After this, they may head to the bar or the champagne top-up station and begin mingling with other guests in a lounge or other casual area. Finally, they will need to sit down for dinner somewhere and maybe even make a speech at a lectern before they move onto the dance floor to get down with the sounds of your resident DJ or band.
To ensure the flow and comfort of your guests, every stage of your wedding has different furniture requirements. You’ll notice that we’ve underlined a few key stages above so take these into consideration as you budget for your furniture package.
Start from the beginning
This may seem overwhelming so just start from the beginning and work your way up. For a sit-down wedding, the most important and possibly the most expensive cost is the chairs. So begin with deciding on the style and colour of your ceremony and reception chairs before you choose anything else. If you’re having a cocktail event then bar stools and tables will be the key feature you must select first.
Your Wedding Furniture Checklist
Here is a list of every piece of furniture you could possibly need to fit out your wedding. Of course, you may not want everything on this list, but it will help you to understand the ingredients you need to throw the event of a lifetime.
- Entryway furniture to relax in upon arrival
- An easel for your wedding signage
- A gift table with a guest book for them to write in
- Coat racks for storing bags and jackets
- Ceremony chairs for your guests
- A signing table for you and your beloved
- An arch to dress the ceremony stage
- The bridal table at the reception
- The cake table for people to cruise past
- Benches for the smoker’s area
- Lounge suites for the older guests to congregate
- Low coffee tables and beanbags as a cheaper option
- A dry bar or drinks table for the wine and beer service
- Stools for the bar area
- Umbrellas for shade or decoration
- Cocktail tables for the bar area
- Reception chairs for the number of guests you have
- Dining Tables round or long for dinner service
- A Photobooth to capture memories
- Letter lights for the photos
- Cushions and Rugs for a bohemian look
- Backdrops or hanging installations
- Dance floor if you don’t want to use grass
- Neon Frames for photos opportunities
- Love Seats for private moments
- A DJ table and sound system
The combination of the furniture you choose will depend on budget and your venue space but don’t hesitate to speak with your planner about the costs and logistics of hiring any of the above items for your Bali wedding.
Chapter 10: Lighting
While the natural light in Bali is exquisite, the heat of the tropical climate means most weddings are scheduled as evening affairs. Your event will typically last from 4 pm and run as late as 2 am depending on the location.
As the sun sets at around 6:30 pm, the majority of the event will be in the dark, which makes artificial lighting an essential factor. Couples who want to create an unforgettable, mystical atmosphere for their guests should be prepared to plan this carefully with a wedding planner.
Luckily, it’s not too difficult. The key is to design your lighting to suit your venue, and once you have the right lingo, you can quickly start to chat about what you want. There are some genuinely excellent options to consider, and your lighting choices can vastly boost and compliment the overall style of your wedding.
The Language of Lighting
Below are some of the terms you can expect to come across as you research venue lighting. The combination of these lighting elements will vastly change according to your venue.
- Fairy lights
- Canopy lighting
- Festoon lighting
- Garden lighting
- Chandeliers and table lighting
- Gobo lighting
- Pin spotting
- Colour wash
- Landscape lighting
- After party lighting (mirror balls and strobes)
- Tripod lighting
- Par lamps
- Banana trunk candles
- Tiki torches
Your Ideal Lighting Triad
The three most important areas of your wedding to address are the property lighting, the reception lighting and the after-party lighting. Each should be considered and discussed in relation to your venue. Read on for the inside word on each of these lighting zones from one of Bali’s best lighting designers.
The first thing to consider in your lighting plan is the venues existing in-built lighting — most weddings dinners and after-parties are planned outside to take advantage of the tropical gardens. So an early review of the property’s outdoor lighting is a must. While some venues have been purpose-built for weddings, the vast majority of villas/venues will need additional outdoor lighting. This is important for the general event setup, including the boring stuff like the walkways to the toilets.
The most common lighting options used for general event setup are basic par lamps on tripods, banana trunk candles and planted tiki torches. If your venue doesn’t permit the use of naked flame in this way, then LED lamps or candles can be used. Fairy lights draped in the boughs of trees or wrapped around tree trunks are a great way to spruce up your venue’s outdoor lighting and create atmosphere.
The reception in this instance refers to the seated area where everyone will be eating. The most common option couples choose is a lighting canopy that extends over the dining area and can be built up to also light the after party area. These canopies are usually created from a combination of fairy lights, or festoons weaved through with greenery and then installed with a pole & anchor system as they are not very heavy.
Most venues will allow this kind of pole/anchor setup, and it’s widespread in Bali. Some venues have fixed anchor points for lighting rig installation, which can help the setup/tear-down time but doesn’t lead to any cost savings for the couple.
To cover larger spaces where there are no fixed venue or anchor points, you may need truss-style elevation or rigging. This is more expensive to set up as the larger the area to cover, the heavier it will be, and the more truss and rigging gear will be needed. These types of setups can also be influenced by venue rules which are set by owners or managing agents to ensure guest safety and reduce any potential damage to the property. Your wedding planner will need to check the general contractor rules and the agreement or house rules to figure out the best approach.
Don’t just rely on the lighting canopy over the main reception tables to provide enough illumination. You may also need candles (real or LED) to further enhance the ambience at the table, and these should be thoughtfully laid out throughout the table florals to create the perfect balance of overhead and underlighting.
Another popular option is to boost the light of the canopy with the use of chandeliers that hang down over the tables. In these cases, the extra weight and cabling that’s needed to install the chandeliers can significantly add to the cost of the setup, but you can’t beat them for a romantic, dreamy atmosphere which can be complemented by hanging greenery.
One common trick for stunning lighting at your reception is to erect an extra lighting canopy just for the bridal table. This draws attention to the couple and makes for beautiful photographs. Many couples also opt for light up letters which spell out the couple’s name or simply the word LOVE. These are fantastic Instagrammable backgrounds.
Even with a few drinks in them, people can be reluctant to get up and dance. This means the after-party lighting is almost the most important! You have to create the right ambience to make sure everyone feels comfortable to be themselves.
From a lighting point of view, you need to make sure you get this right. Typically this means using a mirror ball, par LED lights, moving heads, a strobe light and the all-important smoke machine to give a sense of mystery to your once shy Aunty Judith.
How To ‘Up The Ante’ On Your Party
For many couples, the after-party takes precedence over the actual ceremony and in our experience, making your guests comfortable will require more than just lighting. Below are some extra additions that will make your party fabulous.
- A built-in dance floor that’s stable and big enough
- A projector to playback images of the evening
- A bar service that’s close by to dispense social lubricant
- Waiters with snacks, water and refreshing towels on hand
- A great sound system with good quality speakers
- A DJ who can read the crowd and take guest requests
- Cocktail chairs and little tables for people to catch their breath
With all of the electricity being used, it’s essential to get the setup right. So make sure you speak with your wedding planner about how the technical elements are being managed. Reputable wedding companies will always use a professional production manager and possibly call on subcontractors to assist in more tricky setups.
To take care of your power consumption needs and insure yourself from possible power cuts, you will need at least one generator to take care of your lighting. As caterers usually expect the planner to provide them with the power, it’s often best to hire two generators to take care of the surge in kVA.
Also, you should be aware that most venues will limit the amount of power you can use from their primary local connection. And funnily enough, that turns out to be positive. In Bali, the local provider is not 100% reliable, so it is good practice to run your event from a generator. The risk is small, but the last thing you want is your event ruined by a power blackout!
Other than cost, there are several things you should keep in mind while you’re making this pivotal decision.
Do your research!
Ask to see the portfolios of each photographer you consider and be super detail-oriented as you look through them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Does the photographer capture the entire wedding? From the makeup and preparation shots to the ceremony itself and the reception afterwards?
- Do the shots look well framed and considered or cluttered and rushed?
- Is the focus clear and do the images seem crisp and well lit?
- Are the shots sensitive to emotion and has the photographer been able to snap the couple’s most intimate moments?
- Do the guests and couple look relaxed in the photos?
- Is there a dominant style or a mix of different styles in the portfolio?
- Do the photos tell a story?
Once you’ve narrowed down a few different options for a photographer it’s time to get on the phone with them. You want to make sure they understand the type of people you are, and whether or not their personality will be a fit with your own! After all, they are going to be a big part of one of the most important days of your life. So it’s important to make sure you’ll get along and that they won’t make you feel awkward.
What Style Of Photography Suits You?
If you’re not yet clear on the style of photographs you want then take some time to do the research. Below we’ve laid out a few of the most common options you can think about. The goal is to find a photographer or videographer that can match your needs AND has his or her own ideas to add to the mix.
Traditional wedding photographers will be able to capture the key moments in your wedding with skill and ease. There won’t be any surprises but you can trust them to capture the sunset moment and especially nail those posed family shots that are important to your mum.
This style is for couples who are looking for something different. The photographer should be ready to go the distance and make the most of the venue. They will take your lead and be willing to follow as you jump into the waves at the beach, pose on mountain bikes or even lay in a rice paddy.
The style is what you see in glossy magazines but be warned, it may take some time to capture. If you’re working with a photographer like this you can expect chic, but dramatic images that are a little moody but spectacularly artistic and very sexy!
This style is all about candid images that tell a story of the day. Rather than posed shots, you can expect a photographer or videographer to be watching for drama and emotion and capturing one-off moments that require no staging. The framing won’t be perfect but the story will be marvellous.
A special effects photographer will have a portfolio with images that are moody and interesting after being altered and ‘improved’ in post-production. Their portfolio will likely include photos that look like old movies with different tones and light effects. This is a super cool style but it’s not for everybody.
If you’re not a photographer, there are bound to be some things that you won’t think about when you’re hiring someone to capture your wedding. Luckily, we’ve got your back, so read on to make sure you cover these points before you pay your deposit.
It usually takes around a month to get all of the photos back after your wedding. This is because the photographer will be shooting raw files which are then edited after the big day. Editing a wedding shoot takes around 40 hours so you’re paying for that time as well as their presence on your wedding day in the overall fee. If you need the photos more quickly, make sure you mention this before booking.
Other than asking how many images you will receive for the fee, make sure you ask what format the photos will come in. Ask if they are high resolution and also ask if you will receive the negatives or data files. Then make sure you confirm any retouching costs before the photographer goes ahead with the edit. You should expect a set of proofs or unedited photos first as most photographers these days are aware that you want to post on social media quite quickly. Whatever your expectations, make sure you check in about how the proofs will be delivered.
Many photographers will retain the right to the photos so they can use them in the portfolios on their website. If you’re not keen on this then it pays to ask about the cost of ownership and whether the photos you do get will include watermarks. Ideally, you want to own the images but for a discount, some photographers will keep the rights and offer to supply your photos with watermarks for their own advertising purposes. They may also ask you to tag them in any posts on social media that include their photos so be prepared for this.
Many photographers offer packages so if you’re thinking about this option then ask the following questions.
- Does the package cover just the shooting fee or also the edits?
- What type of album do we get for the package?
- How many hours do you cover in the package?
- Do you do any pre or post-ceremony photography?
- If your wedding is large, ask if they offer any extra shooters?
Bali Photographers we love
The cost range for a photographer is between $2,000 and $10,0000 AUD but here are some of the Bali photographers we love and you may be able to get them for a cheaper rate. If you do decide to go with a wedding company ask about whether their package includes a photographer or not. You could save a whole lot of money in this area if a photographer is already contracted to them.