Ultimate Wedding Guide: The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Married in Bali

Getting married in your own country can be confusing enough, let alone throwing an entirely new country, with different languages and laws, into the mix. So, to help you find your way through the masses of information online and in forums, we’ve put together the top Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to getting married in Bali.

DO: Start planning your big wedding at least a year in advance

getting married in bali

Your wedding is likely one of the most important days of your life, so there would be nothing worse than being stressed out, doing a rush job on your wedding and having to book second rate vendors as nothing else is available.

For this reason, it’s important to start early! Most brides start organizing their wedding at least a year in advance, while a lot of people getting married in Bali start 1.5-2 years before their big day. This is because the earlier you start, the less likely your preferred vendors will already be booked. Plus, starting earlier means you’ll have more time to tailor your wedding to be exactly how you’ve envisioned it. 

Any good wedding vendor books up far in advance, but on an island of destination weddings, the best wedding vendors book up even more quickly.  The elements that are in very high demand and should be secured first are venues, catering, and photography. Other details like wedding cakes, celebrants and string musicians can be booked closer to the date as there are many options for these. 

DON’T: start booking your own components without consulting your wedding planner

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If there’s one way to upset your wedding planner, it’s when you start doing your own thing and not communicating it with her. Nothing spells chaos more than when a wedding planner is booking elements and isn’t aware of different elements the client has booked directly. While any good wedding planner should absolutely allow you to use any vendor of choice, they need to know about it. 

Wedding planners don’t only book the vendors, they also communicate with each about how and where they will be on the day, as well as make sure that the vendor has absolutely everything that’s necessary for the day to run smoothly. They’ll also need to communicate with the vendor exactly where and how to load, set up and be. If you’ve found a vendor that you like (eg a certain photographer) that your planner hasn’t suggested, send over the info to her and ask her to arrange it for you. It will make both yours and her life a LOT easier. 

DO: Work out the basics first (date, guest count, theme)

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Because of its natural beauty, happy locals and gorgeous weather, Bali is a mecca for weddings, so there is a huge amount of different options out there for your wedding venue.

So, while it’s no problem to come to your planner without a clear idea of what you’d like, it will be a lot more straightforward if you work out the basics first, like how many people you want to invite (all venues have a guest capacity) and when you want it (villa rates and minimum night stay rules can skyrocket in peak season). Once you have these two things outlined it will give your planner a basis to work with and she can send through suggestions she thinks will personally suit you.

A lot of people tend to also have a certain style of wedding in mind, think: waterfall wedding, jungle wedding, beachfront wedding, and clifftop wedding. If you are already envisioning a certain style of wedding, if you share this with your planner, she can suggest venues that are in line with what you’re dreaming of.

DON’T have your reception and ceremony in two separate places

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Whether you choose to have your wedding at a villa, hotel or venue, you’ll have an event and Banjar fee tied into the venue fee somewhere. 

The Banjar fee is basically a payment of a fee to the local village community and gives you permission to organize the event in their village and that they will be aware of the extra noise and traffic.

The event fee, which tends to be a lot higher than the Banjar fee, is charged by the venue itself and is to cover the extra amount of people on the grounds, extra staff needed and small damages that may be done from a large amount of people on the grounds eg, trampled and damaged grass from guests. 

If you’re holding your ceremony and reception at one venue, then you’ll only pay this fee twice. However, if you change the venue for the reception, not only will this be inconvenient for the guests, but you’ll double up on the event fees and Banjar fees. Considering that the event fee usually ranges between USD 1000 – 4000, this can have a huge effect on your wedding budget.

DO: Use a wedding planner

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Hiring a wedding planner is going to keep both your stress levels and your spending down. While a wedding planner may seem like a steep initial cost, it’s the planners’ relationships and knowledge that is going to lower costs from the vendors and hence your overall budget, plus there’s the no-brainer of making the wedding day stress free. And, of course, they know the best places to get married in Bali.

Planners have a keen eye to spot things you’ve budgeted for that you don’t necessarily need, as well as ways to manipulate your spending so that you can fit a champagne wedding in a beer budget. 

They obviously take control of the entire day, rather than vendors taking care of just one aspect each, like catering. But they’re also a great insurance plan should a huge issue arise, say for example your venue becomes unavailable at the last minute, which actually isn’t that uncommon. Your planner will have both the responsibility, and the contacts to find somewhere new, and since she’s in control of all the vendors, she’ll be able to convey this to them as well. After all, the last thing you need is having to skip your nail appointment to move an entire wedding across the island. Or a blinding pimple from the stress.

DON’T: Let your guests get bored in cocktail hour

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Alcohol certainly isn’t a must for cocktail hour (the hour after the ceremony while you have your photos taken) but it’s called a cocktail hour for a reason. If you drink alcohol, then it’s a great way to entertain the guests, paired with canapes during your photography hour. If you don’t drink alcohol it’s suggested that you still offer your guests refreshments, as the island of Bali is a balmy place, and it can obviously get hot for guests during the ceremony, especially if they’re in the sun. 

While cocktails and canapes are a great start, why not provide some entertainment for your guests too, to really get them in party mode? There are all sorts of entertainment you can do, from simply having a DJ spin some chill (or party tunes) to hiring a magician to keep them laughing during this time. In Bali, one of the most popular entertainment that’s hired is fire dancing, as this has a traditional Balinese feel while being very exciting. Some other example for entertainment you can do are; live, traditional Indonesian music (rindik music), Balinese dancers, a caricaturist or giant wooden garden games like jenga. 

DO: Organize your dress and suits before time

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While Bali might have endless choices of mouthwatering cuisine, world-class stylists armed with gorgeous tropical greenery and gorgeous balmy weather – all important vital parts of a successful destination wedding – when it comes to dress choices, you’re best coming prepared. 

In all honesty, there’s not a huge amount of wedding dress shops in Bali and if you’re not based in there, it’s very hard to make it over numerous times for dress fittings. If you leave shopping for your dress until the week of your wedding, it’s going to add an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure. 

So, it’s best to be prepared and get your dress and your groom’s suit sorted at home. Bali has plenty of top-class laundry services that can steam and prepare your outfits for your big day. On the other hand, if guests are just after a simple suit hire or an elegant non-bridal dress, then Seminyak is a mecca for stylish choices.

DON’T: get 100% set on a legal wedding

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If a legal wedding is extremely important to you, then, by all means, most wedding planners can help you figure out how to legally get married.

However, only certain nationalities are allowed to get married in Indonesia and you must be of the same religion so legally getting married in Bali can sometimes be slightly complicated.

There are quite a few rules attached to getting legally married in Bali, and some nationalities aren’t able to. For this reason, while it’s not impossible, a lot of couples choose to have blessing ceremonies for the Bali wedding and do the legal work at home. Blessing ceremonies usually aren’t different from religious ceremony, and guests can’t tell the difference. 

That being said, for most nationalities, it’s usually possible, just much simpler to do a blessing ceremony in Indonesia and the legal work at home, but your planner should be able to help you on how to get legally married in Bali.

DO: Be aware of simple cost-cutting rules

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Every planner knows how to save some money off a quote if your budget really can’t stretch, they’ll know tips and tricks that you won’t be aware of which are specific to getting married in Bali, Indonesia. As an example, they can switch out imported flowers for local flowers on décor, as well as suggest venues where you’re allowed to bring your own alcohol. Both of these tips will dramatically cut down on costs, and your planner has many more of these up her sleeve.

DON’T: Get married in the wet season

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The cultural melting pot of Bali welcomes weddings from all different nationalities. But, if you’re not familiar with Bali then you don’t know their seasons, or when the best time to get married is, weather wise. 

Unlike other regions of the world, Bali doesn’t have four seasons – it has two, wet season and a dry season. Peak dry season is June, July and August and during these months,  there is the least amount of rain. While, still possible, it’s very rare that it will rain in these months and on the odd occasion it does, it’s usually a very quick sun shower. 

Humidity is also down dramatically in June, July and August too, which is a great thing for your bridal hair and makeup! However, it’s important to keep in mind that as these months are peak season so venue rentals are up, villas have longer minimum night stay rules and dates book up well in advance. 

The majority of Bali weddings are held outdoors, so it’s not really recommended to get married in December, January and February. This is the ‘wet’ season and heavy rains aren’t uncommon. While it’s always hot in Bali and there is still quite a lot of sunshine through this period, heavy rains can wreak havoc and holding your wedding in these months is a bit of a gamble.

While May isn’t quite yet the dry season, and there’s still a chance of rain, it can be a beautiful time of year to hold your wedding. As it’s just coming out of the rainy season, the nature on the island is thriving and everything looks very green and beautiful. Rates aren’t at their peak in May and crowds are also down. 

DO: Recognize what’s important to you

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For some people, the most important part of their day is having beautiful photos that they can show their grandkids (or use on Instagram), while others couldn’t care less about photos and their sole worry is supplying the guests with enough booze that they lose all of their inhibitions. For some, they want to be decked out in the princess dress they’ve dreamt of, while others really want a great celebrant who’s open to in-depth communication before the wedding. 

Picking an element that’s most important to you is very personal and everyone has something different, so it’s very helpful if you recognize what it is to you. The choice varies greatly from bride to bride and this is not something that your planner can decide for you, but once you’ve made the decision they can help tremendously. Whatever your preference is, you and your planner should focus on that first (after locking in the venue) so you can make sure that it’s available and is completed at the standard you’ve envisioned.

DO: Trust the information your wedding planner gives you

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Nobody knows the exact choice of canapes for each catering company, the nightly seasonal rates of popular villa venues or exactly where to find the best cello player, better than your wedding planner. Though this may be your first time (and hopefully the last!) time planning a wedding, it most certainly isn’t your planners. 

She’s been through brides who’ve turned down ten different bands, only to pull the right strings and finally find the right one, to brides who demand ten hours free flow alcohol but only have the budget for Bintang. She’s likely to experience every hurdle and found a way to overcome it, for the brides big day. She also has a wealth of information on how to get married in Bali, and all of the places to get married in Bali

She will know important things like the venues which may look pretty in pictures but aren’t maintained well and venues that charge fees for every vendor that comes in. Trust her, she’s the pro.