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  • Tash Heyder

How to choose the perfect Bali wedding villa.

Updated: Apr 4

Venues are probably one of the toughest things to decide on when your ticking off your wedding checklist. I say this because it sets the backdrop for your big day. It’s the canvas you paint on to set the scene and the space where it all comes together.

What adds to the predicament is the fact the venue isn’t even in your home country so you have to rely on website photos, Instagram and word of mouth to get an idea of what it’s like.

While most of our clients will do the recommended trip to Bali about six to twelve months before their wedding day to check their shortlist of favourite villas in person to make a decision from there, a lot of our clients are unable to do so for various reasons, so I’ve outlined some pointers here which I hope will be useful.

I’m focusing on wedding villas specifically. We do resort weddings also, but we specialize in private villas.


Callan + Chelsea | Only Mono Photography

Location

Okay so this is probably the main one you want to sort out. Do you want to be beachside? On the cliffs? Surrounded by rice paddies? Enclosed by jungle?

There really are so many options, and choosing is definitely a personal thing.

A few pointers for each though to keep in mind.

For beachside weddings, which are by far the most popular, you have that fresh ocean breeze, a feeling of space and openness, and more often than not, you have front row seats to a killer sunset.

However, unless you’re coming from a place that doesn’t have nice beaches or perhaps live quite far from any beach at all, I’d think carefully about which beach you want featured in your photos.

Australia for example, where so many of our clients are from, boast some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Clean crystal waters, white sand, and no litter!

In Bali, again depending on where in Bali, I wouldn’t exactly call the water crystal clear. Not in the main spots anyway such as Sanur, Seminyak, Canggu and further north. Being a tourist destination, the beaches are covered with people, dogs, litter (sadly) and an array of merchants selling their wares. Your photographer will obviously not be getting them in your shot, but you need to consider how you’d feel with an audience watching your intimate photographic moments.

And then there’s the sand. It’s not perfect white sand like you’d see on your desktop screen saver. Often its yellowy-brown, and even black the further north you go.

Personally, I LOVE the black sand. I feel it adds so much depth to the photography and perfectly juxtaposes the darker beauty with the pureness of a white wedding.

We do get some clients though who are seriously against it, so I just feel it’s just worth mentioning.

I’m by no means advising AGAINST a beach wedding. In fact, I’m in the same boat as most of my clients and say they’d be my first choice too. I’m only saying all this to give ideas for you to consider.

Beachside villas give you so much in terms of ambience and view. The crashing waves, the ozone smell in the air, the feeling of space and let’s face it, when your saying your vows, what better way than with a horizon so long, that it also vows forever at the same time as you.


Nathan + Samantha | Siempre Wedding Photography

Okay, clifftop venues. I think we can all agree that these are the top tier, crème de la crème, the cherry on top when it comes to vistas for your wedding.

With some offering over 180-degree panoramic views, it’s hard not to be in awe of them. They provide an unbeatable frame for both your wedding photography, as well as the countless selfies and videos your guests will be taking. You literally don’t have to do much to add to the beauty so in that sense, you can be a lot more minimalist with your décor.

Three things to weigh up though with clifftop weddings.

Firstly, the cost. Clifftop villas are generally a lot more expensive than other venues, and if your heart is set on one, you’ll have to be okay with compromising your options with other additions such as lighting, florals, or food if you have a fixed budget. Who said natural beauty was cheap? ;)

Secondly, lighting. You/re paying a big price tag for that view. And yes, it is a glorious view. But for how long? Most Bali weddings start around the 4pm mark to avoid the heat and to make the most of your drinks packages. So, once the sun sets at the 6:30pm mark, its pitch black…especially when its offset with the lighting over the actual wedding. All you see is darkness. You need to consider whether the bigger price tag is worth two to three hours of views.

Lastly, the wind factor. Being on the coast you’re going to get hit with a lot more offshore winds. This is seasonal of course, but being the first barrier the wind hits from the ocean when it reaches land, you’ll have it first. Your hair could stick to your lip gloss, or fly up above your head. It could interfere with the sound quality as your read your vows over the microphone. So, if your heart is set on a clifftop wedding, make sure you choose a wind proof area for the special moments.


Luke + Ella | Eyecon Photography

Villas with rice paddy views. How much more iconic can you get with a Bali wedding than having it with rice paddies surrounding you.

From a photography point of view, I feel these venues give you the best results texturally and colour wise. And if you’re having a wedding in Bali, why wouldn’t you include aspects to show that you’re actually there?

Just remember with these options, that rice is harvested seasonally, and each paddy isn’t always owned by the same farmer. So, while one field might be beautiful and green, the next could be already charred and harvested. Best to speak to the villa manager so they can let you know what cycle the farmers are in with regards to their plantations.


Gareth + Sarah | Only Mono Photography


And finally, jungle.

In the past two years, we’ve noticed a massive spike in the number of requests for weddings away from the beach. Couples wanting abundant greenery, a magic garden of sorts.

These are so much fun to decorate, and I feel lighting really comes alive because they shine through all the nooks and crannies and highlight the natural colours occurring in the garden.

Garden or jungle style venues though are also a favourite for mosquitos! Not a huge issue, more annoying on the night than anything, so just request that the villa is fogged before you check in to ensure minimal bother on the wedding night.


Sulabh + Ankita | Diktat Photography


Size

Bigger isn’t always better.

Of course, the space has to be able to fit all your guests, but I’d always recommend going slightly smaller than slightly bigger.

There’s nothing worse than a party looking empty even when all the guests have arrived.

Atmosphere is created when people are surrounded by each other, chatting, laughing and drinking.

With bigger spaces, sure, we can block off areas to make sure that doesn’t happen, but if you’re not going to use that space, then why get it at all?

Another thing to look at is the pool. How much of the villa grounds is actually usable space? If half the villa is just one massive pool, then it’s a no.


Fletcher + Yasmara | Only Mono Photography


Layout

When you find your perfect villa, you just know. It feels right. It looks right, and you can already picture it.

The rooms are royal, the bathrooms look more like a mini spa, and the pool area could double as a day club.

BUT! Remember. This is a venue for your wedding. Not your dream house.

With so many stunning villas to choose from all over the island it can be hard to pin it down to one, but when you go to see them, make sure the purpose of the villa is first and foremost in your head.

Is there space for the type of dining you want? Is there an area suitable for cocktails? Does it have access points for those who are physically impaired? Will you need a fence around the pool? Will there be enough areas for the vendors to set up their stations – catering, bar, sound systems.

Remember that you’re searching for a space to hold your wedding. Not a villa to sleep in that you’ll also try to fit a wedding in somehow.


Nathan + Melissa | Van Middleton Photography


Affordability

Last but certainly not least…affordability.

Sit down and work out your budget. Remember that most if not all villas have a minimum night stay – often 2 or 3 nights – which you’ll then have to add on an event fee (usually the equivalent of a nights stay but it varies), as well as what is called a banjar fee, or a sort of neighbourhood council fee.

The event fee is to the villa, to cover any damage that may incur. It’s also to cover for maintenance due to more people being inside the villa than it sleeps.

The banjar fee is paid to the local council of the area. They monitor curfews and noise control for the areas so they need to know about your event should there be noise complaints. You would have paid your fee and be in the clear. They often help with clearing the way for incoming and outgoing traffic to your wedding…both from vendors and guests.

As a rule of thumb, I’d suggest spending a quarter of your budget on the villa, and the rest on the wedding. Things like catering, bar, furniture, photography, they quickly add up. You want to make sure you have everything you want.

If however you found a villa and it is that villa that will define the entire look and feel for your big day, then accept that as the major cost, and see what you’re willing to sacrifice in other areas in order to achieve it. If your dream villa speaks for itself, you may be happy with just some pretty lighting, yummy nibbles and acoustic in the background.

With our clients, I always ask them to tell me their budget minus the villa costs. That way I can efficiently choose their vendors and décor to suit both their budget and their theme.


Martin + Laura | Diktat Photography


Your wedding shouldn’t send you broke, take out a second mortgage or force you to take a shorter honeymoon. It’s okay to reign it in a little, and we do everything we can to help you with your budget.

Part of the beauty of Bali villa weddings is that half the job is done. All villas are beautiful in their own way, and you don’t need to add too much to dress it up.

Remember the most important thing is that you and your partner are happy, and that the day isn’t about sweating the small stuff, it’s about sharing your love with everyone around you.

xxx

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Umalas, Bali

Indonesia

Instagram: @planabali

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