How to Plan a Destination Wedding — in Bali!
Growing up, I was never the type of person who fantasized about my perfect wedding day. I knew I would have a pretty dress that would make me feel like a princess. I knew the photos and decor would be beautiful. And I always knew I would plan it with my future husband so that it would be special to us.
We got engaged in Paris almost immediately after our friend's wedding in Italy. Paul and Marisa booked an 8-bedroom villa in Florence for their family to stay with them, and we loved the idea of having a central location for both relaxation and the ceremony/reception.
We tossed around the idea of having it somewhere near the ocean like the Maldives or Santorini. But we decided on Bali for a few important reasons. We've heard great things from friends who've traveled there multiple times. The cost of having our wedding there is also significantly more affordable than if we were to have it in Los Angeles. And it's a 4-hour flight from Bangkok so Alex's grandma can comfortably attend. Of course that means for the rest of us, it's a minimum 19-hour trip. But it's a small price to pay for paradise. :)
If you're planning a destination wedding or are curious how we're planning ours, here are my biggest tips.
#1. Hire a Coordinator
You're going to want someone who knows the language and the lay of the land by your side. After we picked the location and venue, I spent a few weeks scouring the internet for wedding planners in Bali (who also had to meet the villa's certification requirements). I made a huge spreadsheet to track who I emailed, who responded, who I liked, and who I scheduled Skype interviews with. Ultimately, we chose Adria from Avavi Weddings and the By Your Side package. This meant that Adria would help refer vendors, but it was up to us to interview them, choose one, schedule everything, and keep track of when to pay them.
#2. Get Used to Foreign Money and Time Zones
For me, this was the hardest part. There was always a bit of extra coordination needed to communicate, and we mentally prepared ourselves for sticker shock (keep in mind that 14,250 Indonesian rupees equals about $1 USD). So we got used to seeing lots of zeros and holding our breaths before realizing that things weren't as expensive as we initially thought. We also got used to wiring money from our bank and erred on the side of overpaying to account for bank transfer fees.
#3. Send E-Mails to Your Guests
They'll appreciate it! Since many of our guests have never been to Bali, Alex and I took a short trip at the end of May to meet with our coordinator and get a feel for the culture. Afterwards, we sent an email out to share our experience with our guests and set expectations. We also sent a reminder RSVP email and plan to send one more final email with a packing checklist, important addresses, and phone numbers.
#4. Account for Worst Case Scenario
We're going to pack our suit and dress in our carry-on in the event that our luggage gets lost. We also recommend asking your coordinator to locate the nearest doctor and hospital, just in case.
#5. Make Pinterest Boards
Live your best Pinterest life and make a board (or five) to send to florists, decorators, cake designers, etc. It's tricky to plan a wedding that's far away especially with language barriers, so try to communicate with visuals as much as possible. Here is one of mine.
#6. Get There Early
We're leaving on Aug. 29 to prepare for the wedding on Sept. 4. That gives us enough time to adjust to the jetlag, greet our guests at our Welcome Lunch on Sept. 3, and settle in with our friends and family.
#7. Keep It Simple
You're already in a beautiful location so not much else is needed. We also decided to not have bridesmaids or groomsmen and omit DIY projects. The simpler, the better.
Now go enjoy your wedding!