How to Plan a Wedding in BaliBy Retno Dwinika
You and your spouse finally made the decision. you’re getting married in Bali. You’re engaged and you’re planning your happiest day in your life.
In this article I will give you advice, tips and tricks how you can arrange a wedding in Bali without the headaches.
Luckily, Bali is one of the most gorgeous places in the world to get married. Countless villas, viewpoints, clifftops and ocean views make the island one of the best destinations to get married.
Pick the right season
Venue rates are usually based on 3 season (low, high, and peak season). The low season rates seem very attractive on first sight. However, many days in the low season are during the rainy season.
What seasons does Bali have?
Luckily, Bali does not have the seasons as many of western people know it. There are generally 2 seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.
The rainy season: This season is typically from October to March.
The dry season: This season is typically from April to September.
One of the best times to come to Bali is April, May, June and September.
These months are actually before the high season, yet still outside the rainy season. Many rooms and villa rentals are 30 50% cheaper than during high season. These months are a little more enjoyable in Bali.
How many people should you invite?
The biggest challenge is to actually get your guests traveling to Bali!
On a wedding the food and beverages are one of the biggest expenses together with the wedding venue.
A western buffet style with non alcoholic beverages can have an average cost of $42 usd to $85 usd per person.
What are the costs for a wedding in Bali?
It all depends! a wedding with +/- 50 guests, can easily range between $10.000 – $20.000 USD. This is if you also want a reception for your guests and depending on the type of venue.
Many couples who have a wedding in Bali, prefer to book a wedding package in Bali, as these packages are already crafted with the wedding planner and a venue. It gives you an accurate prediction of price, which you can always tweak with changes if desired.
However, if you prefer the decision to plan a wedding from scratch, based on your wishes and needs, you can also do this together with a wedding planner.
Villas with a garden or villas with a view over a rice field are usually cheaper than a clifftop or beachfront villa.
A wedding in a villa can end up more expensive, but is a very attractive option for a number of reasons:
- Privacy – A villa is close to 100% private for your wedding day.
- Midnight curfew time – The curfew time in a villa is later than a hotel, which usually is until 10 pm. A villa curfew can be until 12 am and some villas that are located in an area with few neighbours can have a curfew
- No corkage fees – A villa wedding could be more expensive than renting the wedding venue itself. However, in a villa you have your freedom to bring your own vendors (eg: caterer, decorator, wedding cake, entertainments, etc.) so, here is a chance to keep your budget by using your money to hiring vendor you prefer. For example, you want a fabulous decoration and simple food and beverages.
- Rooms – Have your family time in the villa. Most in Bali has 5 bedrooms which can hold up to 14 people with 4 extra beds.
There are possibilities for a budget wedding in Bali too. These budget wedding packages still offer a gorgeous Balinese experience. An excellent balance between price and quality!
If you’re not up for a big crowd, you can also choose for an elopement wedding, which is the most budget-friendly way to get married in Bali and also pretty much the only choice when intimacy is desired.
For example, there are elopement wedding packages from $1480.
I wrote a comprehensive breakdown on how much a Bali wedding can cost.
Costs to be aware of:
This is the rate for the villa per night dependent on the season your date falls in. Every villa has a minimum number of nights you have to book. This depends on the season (low, high, peak) or based on your wedding day (weekdays or weekend).
Make sure to check their website page or talk to the sales or ask your wedding planner. This nightly rate can be a very deciding factor how expensive it can become.
Event fee / Venue rental fee
Besides the nightly rate, the venue is requiring an event fee as you will invite people from outside and use their property for your event. The rates are usually equal to one-night stay or a different rate, depending on the venue.
A Banjar (Balinese: local village municipality) is a local community where the villa is located. The Banjar fee exists to facilitate the disturbances caused by your wedding. (Think about parking management, vendor guidance, directing car traffic)
Every Banjar has different rates.
This fee is mandatory, before you check in to your villa, And will return 100% to you if you checked out the villa with good conditions.
While it may be true that the average costs of living in Bali, might be more affordable in Bali compared to many western countries, many might be surprised that this is not the case for alcoholic beverages.
Indonesia having a dominant Muslim population, the government implemented a ‘sin-tax’ to discourage the consumption of alcohol. This is the reason why the price for a bottle of wine can be up to 4 times higher than a bottle of wine in Europe.
Many venues are discouraging to arrange your own catering or alcohol.
Often venues charge by every bottle you bring or a fixed rate for bringing an external catering company.
Should you have a legal wedding in Bali?
Getting married legally in Bali is not mandatory.
It can be more cost and time efficient to officially get married in your home town and choose for a blessing ceremony in Bali instead.
Look for your country’s consulate in Bali. From your country’s consulate, you need to request a certificate of no impediment.
See our comprehensive guide about legal weddings in Bali.
The legal wedding certificate is legitimate everywhere in the world.
What you need to know about Religion
One of the most common questions people ask in Indonesia is: “what is your religion?”. Religion is a fundamental part of the Indonesian society.
Indonesia acknowledges 6 religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
Keep in mind, Atheism is not recognized in Indonesia, so it’s not possible to get legally married certificate or Blessing ceremony without a religion.
For legal weddings, certain restrictions also apply:
- * Catholics are required to marry in a Catholic church.
- Protestants are not restricted for a church wedding, and can easily marry in a resort or villa.
However, if you don’t prefer any religious or legal certificate in Bali, You can plan a commitment ceremony, led by a wedding celebrant. This is possible without religion.
However, a commitment ceremony will not receive a legal marriage certificate. This means you still have to organize a legal wedding in your home country before you come to Bali or after.
Booking a Wedding Planner
In Bali, it can be extremely difficult to arrange things (especially as a foreigner). It’s common to have appointments being cancelled last minute, this is not something you want to experience on your big day.
There are cases, where the full payment was requested by a vendor up front and eventually the vendors never showed up on the day of the wedding. The couple was left without a reception, and the money was never returned.
A Wedding Planner has their preferred network of vendors where they have good experiences with. Hiring a wedding planner sharply reduces the chance of horror scenarios.
Things to know:
- Meet the wedding planner in person.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for their experience. Do they have a portfolio?
- Are they asking the right questions?
- Are they personally engaged with you? They are willing to ask and listen about how your wedding dream will look like.
- How far you want them to involve for your big day (full wedding planning, On the day wedding coordination)
- Your estimated budget (they don’t push you to have an irrational budget or give you a rational idea how much you will spend)
- Are they giving you more options of vendors? And asking if you have any vendor in mind?
Choose a Venue
Bali has multiple types of venues. There are thousands of gorgeous places to get married in Bali.
The most usual venues are:
Villas, Hotels, Resorts, Chapels, Beaches, Cliff tops and Restaurants.
Venues have their pros and cons. I have written a comprehensive guide on how to pick a wedding venue in Bali.
Plan a Visit to Bali
It’s highly recommended to visit Bali at least once. Preferably long before your wedding.
Visiting Bali will give you a better taste of what to expect on your wedding day.
Visiting and booking early will prevent disappointment too, as many other couples are probably interested in the same venue and dates. Often, you can get amazing early bird discounts!
Things To Do during your visit:
- Visit Venues
- Plan an inspection visit with your wedding planner.
- If it’s not possible to visit the venue, make sure to do good online research about the venue. Look for reviews, blog posts, or videos from youtube.
- Ask about the restrictions of the wedding venue.
- It is no cost asked from the venue to do an inspection.
- Food Tasting from a Catering Company
- Plan a day of food tasting with your wedding planner.
A wedding planner should offer multiple suggestions and should be unbiased towards any company. It’s about your flavour!
The catering company/hotels/restaurants will charge you for the food tasting.
Tell them what you like and don’t like from the flavours.
A wedding is done with your family and best friends. However, some of them might have food preferences, allergies or intolerances.
A good thing to know is: You can ask your caterer at least 3 months in advance for changes. It’s considered wise to ask your guest in the save the date cards if they have any allergies, intolerances or bring children to your wedding.
Different companies have different rates for children. Some companies do it for free, some give 50% discounts, and some charge the full rate. All catering companies are able to provide baby chairs.
Ask your wedding planner to arrange this with your caterer.
Do a trial for Makeup and Hairstyle
- Before doing a trial, send some photos of inspiration to your wedding planner.
- You can ask make-up and hairstyle trial, just make-up, just hairstyle, or product allergic test. The rates are different.
- You can do the trial in the company place or your hotel stay during your visit to Bali.
- The trial will make your wedding day a lot easier, and save more time in preparation and less stressed.
- Visit the Decoration Agency / Florists
- Have a visit to the workshop of your decoration and have a look at all the furniture. (You will not be charged for visiting)
- Ask your florist for a mockup. They can do a mockup of your hand bouquet, centrepieces, or other details to get you the idea of how the styling will look like. (You will be charged for the mock-up)
Accommodation for your guests
I highly recommend to book your wedding venue before you send the ‘Save the date card”, and asking your guests to stay close to the venue on your wedding day.
You should also ask your wedding planner to get the rate of places near your wedding venue and recommend it to your guests.
Why your guests should stay close to the venue
I recommend you to not let your guests book their own places. This for very practical reasons:
- Bali has no public transportation. You don’t want your guests to struggle with local transportation and the scammy nature of many drivers.
- Bali’s traffic can be enormously congested.
- It has to be said: scooters are not for everybody, don’t drive in Bali if you have no experience! There are too many (young) adults dying in Bali because of the lack of driving experience. You would prefer to not lose a loved one during your wedding day.
- Make sure that your wedding planner arranges transport from the accommodation to the venue.
Retno Dwinika lives in Canggu, Bali. She is active as a wedding planner, blogger and Founder of Amora Bali Weddings. Retno is often seen working from Canggu’s gorgeous cafes and co-working spaces. Between her routines, she always takes the time to enjoy Bali’s romantic sunsets.