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 download the full guide in a PDF below if you’d like a copy for later.
Chapter 1: Where to begin?
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.
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.
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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: If the thought of wedding planning makes you want to curl up in a ball and hide, then we recommend hiring a professional event planner in Bali. 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 our 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.
Chapter 2: Research
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!
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!
Below 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.
Bali wedding companies
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
- https://www.bridestory.com › amora-bali-weddings
Photography & Videography
Flowers & Styling
Chapter 3: How to make it legal
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.
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 the website below 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
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.
Chapter 4: Choosing a venue
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.
Types of venue
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.