The 5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Booked My Bali Wedding

Destination weddings are rapidly gaining in popularity, with one in three brides now choosing to get married somewhere really out of the ordinary(B2B survey, Mar. 2014). Many brides comment that getting married in a new and exotic location lifted their wedding onto a whole new level, that it generated a rare sense of occasion with friends and family who were able to escape from the pressures and the ho-hum of home. A destination wedding always becomes an exciting holiday destination which puts everyone in the mood to party, have fun and celebrate. But like all great social gatherings, it's all in the execution and there are some real pitfalls you must avoid if you are to make sure your destination wedding will be raved about for many years to come - for all the right reasons.

1. Beware the low price "carrot on a string".

We all want to believe that it's still possible to get something for nothing, especially in places like Bali. A quality, well-priced wedding in this magical country will generally cost about 40 to 50% less than a roughly comparable Reception Centre affair back home. And of course will be immeasurably more fun and exciting. But if you are quoted any cheaper than that, chances are you are not being told the full story.

A typical example of the kind of "oversight" which can make all the difference to your budget, is undisclosed taxes and fees. In Australia and most Western countries, GST (or VAT) is included in the price. However in Bali taxes are often excluded and other add-ons are rarely discussed, at least not before about six months before the wedding, when it's too late for you to pull out. These taxes alone can be as high as 21% which adds say another $2,500 to the "all inclusive, budget quote" you received of $12,000. Add to this all the extras you never thought to factor in, like Banjar fees (local communal council), bank transfer fees or even cost of the sound system (etc.) and you'll quickly realise that the cheap quote you received was anything but.

Most of us don't have much experience getting married so there are lots of things we don't know we should be asking. Like what about bad weather contingencies? What back-up plans are there should something go wrong, such as a sudden tropical downpour? Will I be able to relax knowing everything is covered? (Unbelievably enough, some venues have no wet weather back up at all, so do remember to ask.)

2. Make sure that just one company takes care of absolutely everything.

The last thing you need is suppliers trying to synchronise your wedding, and the minute you split tasks between your venue and suppliers e.g... florist, celebrant, entertainment, catering etc., you go right back to where you started, trying to do everything yourself, and most frantically of all on the very day you don't want to be - your wedding day.

3. Ask yourself what is the real "core business" of the company you're dealing with?

Are they a hotel primarily concerned with maximising room occupancy and who will often see your wedding as an unavoidable nuisance? Or a small supplier who really only sells one item on the list then cobbles together other suppliers to get commissions?

Choose an organisation which has its entire focus on the detailed journey leading up to your wedding, and the perfect execution of the big day itself. Pay attention to how promptly your enquires are dealt with. Ask yourself, “How quickly are my problems being resolved?”

Today, with the internet, the service culture of all service providers is judged by their response time. If you don't get a same day response and assistance from day one, consider that a pretty good indication of the level of care you can expect with your wedding over the next year or two.

4. Don’t be tempted to DIY.

Experienced wedding organisers often quip that crafting a wedding is a bit like herding cats and nowhere more so than in Bali. There's no doubt that if you have three weeks, a car and a great translator, you might save a few hundred dollars by putting yourself through the wringer this way. But there are 38 separate areas which you have to cover off with a wedding and you can be sure that whatever you save will undoubtedly be lost in last minute oversights, alterations and add-ons. Unless you have organised weddings before in Bali, DIY means that your own wedding will be your "test dummy", the one where you find out everything you wouldn't do next time.

5. Treat everything you read online with a healthy dose of scepticism.

Nowadays anyone can create a seemingly respectable website and even have all negative feedback from unhappy brides deleted. But once you dig deeper you'll soon get a gut feel and be able to see if it's all smoke and mirrors, so follow your intuition.

To get to the truth of what any organisation is going to do for you, ask these simple questions:

  • Can you tell me what the all-inclusive cost of my wedding will be and what other factors may possibly later on influence that price?
  • What are the changes I can make and optional extras I can look at if I want to add something down the track, and what will they cost?
  • Will you provide me with a timeline of exactly what happens when?
  • Will someone be in charge of my wedding 24/7, from now to the day I'm married?
  • What exactly do you organise and what exactly is left up to me?
  • What contingency plans do you have for service providers who fail to deliver what I'm promised, for inclement weather etc.?
  • Will you guarantee 100% your services and products and compensate me for any deviation from what we've agreed upon?

Having a world class wedding in the Island of the Gods is not difficult, but just as you would back home, you do have to do some homework. Good luck and congratulations on your decision to enter into the wonderful institution of marriage. Every wedding re-vitalises the society which endorses it.