Congratulations, you’re engaged! And now, it’s time to start planning your wedding.
The Mulia’s in-house wedding specialists, in collaboration with SingaporeBrides
’ Editor and wedding expert, Michelle Tay, have come together to develop our very own Bali Wedding Guide.
In this guide, you will find key steps and potential pitfalls in planning a destination wedding, all drawn from real insights from recent weddings. So, go forth, plan and know that you will enjoy a smooth process with this guide (along with your fiancé) by your side.
Our Bali Wedding Guide covers:
Chapter 1: Before Deciding on a Destination Wedding….
Having a destination wedding is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, given the journey you and your guests need to make and the added planning required. To ensure everything goes smoothly, Michelle Tay, the resident wedding expert at SingaporeBrides.com recommends you consider the following:
Your family and friends’ ability to travel
Your wedding is a special moment that you want to share with your family and friends, so you should ensure they will be able to travel to the destination you are considering. For instance, if you have elderly grandparents or a pregnant maid of honour that would not be able to fly at the time of your wedding, you may want to consider having it locally.
Your budget, the potentially higher costs and ways to manage them
A destination wedding can increase or reduce your costs significantly. The reduction in number of guests may result in lower F&B expenses, but you may also need to take a few trips in the planning phase. It is important to weigh out the costs and prioritize items in order to stay within your budget. For instance, hotel catering teams can create custom dinner menus tailored to your budget, which can offset the increase in planning costs.
Your willingness to relinquish control
A destination wedding means letting your inner bridezilla go, as it would be impossible for you to control every single element of your special day. Before deciding to have your wedding away from home, ensure that you are able to let go and let someone else take the reins.
If you are confident about your decision to have a destination wedding, let’s begin! Get the inside scoop, from the initial decisions on how to choose your venue, to finding the right vendors.
Chapter 2: Initial Decisions for Your Destination Wedding
Now that you’ve decided to have a destination wedding, the real planning starts. And it all starts with four key decisions, according to Michelle and our wedding specialists.
Do you envision an intimate beachfront wedding or a grand wedding in a ballroom? The initial idea around setting will set the tone for the rest of the decisions, from destination city or island, venue and even décor. Use Pinterest and popular hotels’ social media pages for inspiration, look at photos of recent weddings you’ve attended, and browse through the resources we’ve included at the end of this guide.
The “Ideal” Destination
With a vision in mind, next comes the best (and the most difficult) part of selecting the destination! If you’ve decided on a beachfront location, opt for an island with many beachside resorts like Bali, or if you prefer a grand city wedding, choose a city like Jakarta which hosts many magnificent hotels.
Journey duration and flight frequency:
Consider where your guests will be flying in from and how easy it will be to reach the destination. For instance, choosing a hotel that is only 20 minutes away from the airport, such as The Mulia Bali, will make it very easy for your guests. It would also be helpful to see if there are many flights from your and your guests’ cities to the destination, to allow more flexibility for your travel dates.
Keep in mind the flight and accommodation costs you will need to incur, both during the wedding period and the planning phase. In addition, consider your guests’ travel costs – would most of them be willing to spend this much to attend your wedding?
If the destination requires a visa, some guests may be less inclined to attend merely due to the complications of obtaining one. It’s best to choose a location where visa on arrival is readily available, like in Indonesia. This makes it more convenient for your guests as they don’t need to worry about obtaining a visa beforehand. If you choose an exotic destination like Hawaii, while most of your friends and family are based in Asia, it would be safe to say that some would be deterred from the plans of attending due to the complexities with visa applications.
We are no stranger to those stories where a married couple returns to their home country only to realize that their wedding was not considered legal. Do your research in advance and ensure you bring the necessary documentations, or opt to have your legal wedding at your home country before flying off to your destination wedding.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that there is no one perfect destination – every location will have both positive and negative points. Spare yourself the stress by prioritizing the elements that are most important to you and your partner, and then choosing the destination that ticks all the boxes.
The Wedding Date
With a vision and destination in mind, the next and most crucial item on the list is the wedding date.
Weather and seasons:
Be mindful of the different seasons at your destination especially if you plan on an outdoor wedding. You don’t want the weather to ruin your wedding. If you have your heart set on an outdoor or beach wedding in Bali, you would avoid the rainy season from October to March.
Local public holidays or festivals:
Before deciding on a date, consider whether the date coincides with a local holiday or festival. For instance, in Bali, you would avoid the week of the Balinese New Year Day, Nyepi, which typically occurs in March or April. During Nyepi, locals observe a Day of Silence during which they do not work or conduct any activities, no one is allowed on the streets or beaches, and the airport is closed.
Another factor when determining your wedding date is religious beliefs. To Hindus and Buddhists, choosing an auspicious date is very important to bring the couple luck in their marriage. In both these cultures, an auspicious date is selected by a priest based on the couples’ astrological match.
The financial component is one of the most dreaded and least glamorous parts of a wedding. And yet, it is the most crucial, as you will find expenses can be the root cause of disagreements during the planning process. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to get the following out of the way early.
Determining who will pay for the wedding:
Before you begin contacting venues and asking for quotes, make sure you, your partner and your families are clear on the parties that will be incurring the wedding expense. Will the parents of bride or groom help pay for the wedding or will the couple take it on?
Division of expenses:
These days it is more common to find the bride and groom’s sides sharing the costs of the wedding, or splitting them by events, thus having the bride’s family pay for the wedding ceremony and all its associated costs, while the groom’s family funds the reception in full. If this is the approach you take, make sure all parties are clear on the items or events they will be paying for.
Chapter 3: Choosing Your Venue
With the destination, date and budget set, you are ready to choose the venue.
First off, keep in mind the type of venue that aligns with your vision – be it a church, temple, historical site, ballroom or a beach. List out the top ten venues in the destination you selected, and request their event information to understand their space options and capacities. Consider hotels that provide both indoor and outdoor venue space that allow you to have varied settings and themes for your events.
Venue capacity & capabilities:
Then consider the number of guests you are expecting to identify the minimum size of venue you need. Ensure you allow for last minute attendees and opt for a slightly larger space. Narrow down the list to only those that can accommodate all your guests. Next, find out the venue’s additional capabilities, including but not limited to catering for various cuisines, audio visual equipment, and wedding cake provision, as it could help alleviate some of your responsibilities in finding a vendor for each item.
Venue limitations and restrictions:
It is also crucial to check if the venues have specific restrictions around their space, especially ones that will affect your wedding vision. For instance, some hotels may not be ideal for pool parties as they don’t allow the use of their main pool for parties, while other hotels may not be ideal for Hindu couples who wed around an auspicious ceremonial fire, as ballrooms are equipped with smoke detectors.
While distance from the airport to the venue may be a small factor, it should be considered nonetheless. Use Google Maps to know the surroundings and see how far your venue is from the hotel (if they are not the same) as well as the probabilities for traffic during the time of your ceremony. Additionally, try to discern if the venue is equipped with ramps and elevators to ensure guests with disabilities will have no issues.
Venue Photos and Videos:
And finally, get a feel of the venues by looking at articles and blogs around weddings that have taken place there, and see if it aligns with your dream wedding vision. This way you can shortlist or remove the venue before you travel to the destination to see the options in person.
Chapter 4: Choosing Your Vendors
Choosing the right vendors can make all the difference in making your dream wedding a reality.
Gathering the vendor list:
Start by identifying a few vendors for every item, i.e., photographer and videographer, musician, decorator, and even the wedding planner. You can do this by gathering a list of vendors from people you know and do your own research. As you look through inspirational blog articles and videos, take note of the vendors that catch your eye and reach out to them. Once you have chosen your hotel, ask them for a list of recommended vendors, which they would always be happy to share.
Comparing and selecting the vendor:
First off, ensure your vendor has experience doing things the way you need, or at least have done something in the same hotel or destination. For instance, if you have chosen to wed in Bali, ensure your wedding planner can speak the local language – Bahasa Indonesia. In addition, vendors should be flexible and open to customizing their packages based on your needs, offering alternatives if they cannot accommodate everything you ask for.
With a multitude of vendors available, ensure that you are selecting a vendor for their service and quality instead of their name. Further research will almost always help you discover other vendors with similar quality at a different, perhaps lower, price. And finally, before settling on a vendor, conduct research around their past work and get references from previous clients.
Chapter 5: Managing the Budget
The wedding budget is the number one cause of stress for during wedding planning. The key to diminishing this stress is to have a clear understanding of all the costs you will incur before you’re too far into the planning process.
Setting the budget:
Once the decision around who is paying for what has been made, then comes the time to set the budget. Each party should set a fixed budget, keeping in mind the expenses they will need to incur. We recommend taking this one step further and setting a budget for each item – such as décor, F&B or photography, taking into account the vision you have, the destination you selected and the date you chose (whether it is peak or non-peak season).
Managing the budget:
First off, have all the items you need to organize on a spreadsheet, and assign its budget (based on what has been agreed on) and the person responsible for arranging the item. As the vendors for each item are selected, include their costs on the document as well, so that you know how your expenses are aligning (or not aligning) with your budget, and you can adjust your expenses accordingly.
Prioritize items for budget allocation:
More importantly, prioritize every element so that you and your partner are clear on what’s important to you both for this wedding and you can cut expenses on the lower priority items. For example, if entertainment is more important to you than décor, then allocate some of your décor budget for a live band and spend less on flowers.
Don’t forget the miscellaneous expenses:
While you should always have a buffer in your budget to account for miscellaneous expenses, there are some that you should budget for ahead of time. These include gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, meals for vendors and their teams, a welcome pack for all guests comprising of items that would make their stay more comfortable such as sunscreen and insect repellent, local snacks and drinks, as well as an itinerary of the wedding events. Other costs that should be budgeted for in advance include transportation costs to ensure your guests have a smooth experience getting from the airport to the venue or hotel and in some cases, the accommodation costs for immediate family and close friends.
Chapter 6: Final Tips from the Experts
As your special day approaches, remember the following to ensure your peace of mind:
Arrive a few days in advance of your big day.
The extra few days will let you sort out any loose ends, ensure everything is ready at the hotel and/or venue(s). Most importantly, it gives you time to relax with a day of pampering at the spa!
Carry your dress on board the plane, don’t check it in.
This is especially true for brides and grooms who are travelling to the destination just one or two days before the wedding. However, travelling at the last minute is unavoidable, the hotel will typically be happy to press your dress upon arrival. However, if you are staying at a boutique hotel, be prepared and pack a portable steamer just in case they don’t have one on site.
Be prepared for things getting lost in translation.
If you’re choosing a destination in which you don’t speak the local language, there may be language barriers and communication difficulties when dealing with vendors. This is why selecting a planner with local capabilities is critical. During your planning and discussion sessions with the wedding planner and/or vendors, use visuals and be as detailed as possible. Choosing a location where your preferred language is commonly spoken could prevent from some miscommunications. In Bali, English is widely spoken, and most hotels would have staff capable of communicating in Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.
Finally, have fun with the planning process and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Keep your eyes on the prize – the marriage – and don’t worry about getting every little detail perfect. Remember that you and your fiancé will remember your wedding as the special moment that it is, and your guests will remember the fun they had, not the small stuff like the centrepieces or place settings.
Chapter 7: Additional Resources
From checklists, to budget planners and guest list tracking, the sites below offer plentiful resources and inspiration for your dream wedding.
The Wedding Notebook
The Wedding Scoop
We wish you all the best in planning your wedding, and hope that our advice gets you that much closer to making your dream wedding a reality.
If you are interested in planning your wedding at The Mulia Bali or The Mulia Jakarta, explore our weddings page
or get in touch
with our wedding planning team.