Now you all might be thinking, of course she says yes, she's a wedding planner! Its her business! Well sure, it IS my business, but I never in a million years would have ever thought I'd end up being a planner. I always thought I wanted to be a doctor or psychologist. So when I tell you that yes, you need a planner, its coming from experience with dealing with friends over the years who needed help with having parties in Bali.
I've spent the vast majority of my life in Indonesia, and as many others who live or have lived in this crazy country, I'd be willing to bet that every single one of them would nod their heads in agreement when I say that a. things don't always go the way you plan here and b. it's better not to have expectations. Whether its about the meal you just ordered at a cafe, a leather jacket you're having made, or the departure times of your flights. You just never know.
With Bali being in such close proximity to Perth, where I went to highschool and university, many of my friends from there frequented Bali and will happily say it's their 'second home'. Yet no matter how many times they have come up, when it came to having villa parties, it wasn't uncommon for me to get calls like "Well we bought all the alcohol...but do you know anyone who can serve it? Like actually make drinks? We didnt think of that part..." or "Tash are we getting ripped off? They said it would be this price but it seems kind of expensive to me, can you talk to them please?" and so on...you get the idea.
What I realised was, there was a real gap for people who counted Bali as their second home and wanted to have house parties at their rented villas, just as they would do at home, but didn't know how to go about it. Sure they had kitchen staff who could provide food up to a certain amount, and they knew they could just pop their iPod on for music, but what if they wanted more than that? Thats when I decided to start Plan A.
Photography: The Outdoor Escape
Initially, I had only envisioned a business for bucks, hens and birthday parties. The wedding market, in my opinion, was saturated, at least in Bali. But before I knew it, I was getting wedding requests as well. Admittedly I refused the first few emails about weddings, pointing them in the direction of other planners and saying I didn't do weddings. I'd never done a wedding, and quite frankly, the idea of being responsible for someone else's special day freaked me out a little. So much lies on your shoulders! I stayed with this viewpoint until one day, a couple approached me about their wedding, and despite my efforts at refusing, they simply would not take no for an answer. So they became the first clients of many now, to use Plan A as their wedding planners, and to be perfectly honest, I have loved every minute of this journey. What I had initially thought would be daunting and cause me so much anxiety is actually exciting and exhilirating, and so so special to be a part of a couples union.
A planner, particularly if you plan to have your wedding or party outside your home country, is one of the best things you can do to ensure a quality, stress free and fun event, and here are my reasons why:
Firstly, we remove the language barrier. Yes, the Balinese are a clever bunch, and their English can be close to perfect at times. But that doesn't mean that miscommunications dont still happen. When your flat white comes out as a long mach, or your nasi goreng that you asked for without chilli comes as hot as they come, it's not really an issue, you can usually just ask for another. However when you're working with weddings, you simply cannot afford for mistakes to happen. Flowers for example, can get very expensive, and if you are a bride with specific dislikes of certain flowers and they understood your "use anything EXCEPT this flower" as "use anything ESPECIALLY this flower", well, you have yourself a bit of a problem. Who's fault is it? The florist who didnt understand your accent/english/hand movements? Or the client who doesnt speak the country's language or didnt know the local name for that particular flower. I'm not saying that you'll have a difficult time making yourself clear. Nor am I suggesting that the vendors wont understand what you want or that they are somehow incompetent. They aren't at all. I'm merely pointing out that sometimes, these things happen, and its just not worth the stress or disappointment if it does. It can be costly and time consuming.
My team and I speak english and Indonesian fluently, and while I have faith in all the vendors I work with to understand my clients wishes 100%, it doesn't hurt to do a final check in Indonesian, just to be sure. This is also useful when the vendors send out their staff to set up on the day, staff who dont speak as much english as their bosses and are often relieved to find someone organising the day and speaking to them in their mothertongue, making everyone's jobs easier.
Photography: Apel Photography
Secondly, you only need to deal with one person, instead of twenty. When you hire a planner, what you are essentially doing is hiring a PA, someone who represents you and your partner on the ground in Bali when you cant be there. While you're sorting out your guest list, setting the date, looking at flight prices, organising your dress, rings, bridal party, and a whole lot more, the last thing you want to be doing is emailing thirty different vendors asking for quotes, only to have some not reply, and the rest give you a pile to go through. When you go through a planner, you tell them your specifications, what you are after, and let them do the hard yards. We'll ring and meet various people we think are most suited to your needs, even suggest vendors you may not have known about. We do the emailing back and forth until the prices are just right and fit your budget. We get that all together so at the end of the day you're just looking at one invoice, with everything you want on it rather than ten separate pages, each vendor not connected to the other in any way, relying on you, on your special day, to run through when they need to arrive, where they set up, what is expected of them, the time schedule, and what is required at pack down . As a planner, we are the ring leaders, the mother hens, the ones everyone comes to to find out where they fit into the picture. On the day, you just watch your day unfold while everything else is left to us.
Following from my point above, are bank transfers...the actual paying for all the services and vendors you want. Having a planner makes it easy in the way that you only need to transfer to one bank account - at least that's what we do. Once you have your invoice with everything you want on it, you look at the required deposit, send it, and don't have to think about it again! Once it reaches us, we then pay the deposits further to everyone involved on your special from the celebrant to the DJ, from the caterers to the hair and makeup team. Transferring locally from our bank to the vendors' banks incur little to no charge, so it makes so much more sense to do it this way, on everyone's behalf.
The alternative to this, that is, without a planner, is that you'd be making bank trasfers to each and every vendor INDIVIDUALLY. Not only is it a hassle and takes time, its expensive! Why? You need to pay an international bank trasfer fee every time you make that transfer. Lets say its about $30-$50 per transfer...you're looking at potentially $400+ in bank fees that could be going towards your wedding. And if you are on a tight budget, that $400 would make a big difference.
Photography: Diktat Photography
Another thing to consider, if you are wanting to have your wedding in a private villa, which is what we specialise in, is that more and more villas are making it a requirement to have a planner. So while you still might find some that are more leniant, having someone on site, who is legally recognised and holds responsibility in ensuring the guidlines for having the event at the villa are followed is strongly desired. The villa management have a duty to the villa owners to keep their properties in top condition, so having a planner is often seen as a nice buffer between all parties involved so that everyone understands their responsibilities and duties.
Finally, we are your sounding board. We do this for a living, we see so many beautiful weddings, we are aware of all the new trends, decorations, services and villas popping up on the island, so we are going to be your best point of call when it comes to decision making. I can only speak on behalf of myself and my company, but I really do care about each of my brides' weddings. I want it to be perfect for them. I want it to be perfect for me. I want it to run the way it has already run in their minds a hundred times. So when they get frustrated, or confused or stuck between choosing types of furniture, I love being able to be there and let them know the pros and cons of each decision, what I think would work best and finding a way to make their dreams a reality, Bali style.
So there you have it. Why I think a planner is essential to your Bali wedding. I've met a lot of capable brides who are quite happy to organise everything themselves, only to realise too late that they wish they had hired one to take away the stress leading up to the big day, so that they could enjoy the moment with loved ones. At the end of the day you need to choose what makes you most comfortable, most stress free, and go with that. But I do think it's important to have a planner, at least holding your hand some of the way, ready to catch you if you fall.