As it comes to the end of the year, and couples who want to have their wedding in Bali start their planning journey, getting through the number of planners on the island alone can be overwhelming.
I must admit, after the pandemic finished and the borders reopened to travelers to Indonesia, the number of wedding planners on the island almost tripled!
While on the one hand it’s great to see that Bali remains such a popular place to say I DO, on the other, unfortunately not all of them are experienced, legitimate or able to create what they say they can, so this increased number saturates the pool for couples looking for their perfect fit.
So as such, I’ve decided to dedicate today’s blog post to some key factors when considering who you choose as your planner, and what to look out for.
Photo Credit: Terralogical
Recommendations and Testimonials
There’s no better way to gage how a planner operates than by through word of mouth. Whether it’s by the couple’s themselves, or by the vendors on the island who work with them.
And both of these recommendations are equally important.
Testimonials from previous clients will give you a good indication of how the overall process was, the highlights, the pain points, and if they were satisfied overall for what they experienced.
Likewise, you’ll want to go with who reputable vendors favor. The logistics on the day can be a nightmare if not handled properly and a solid plan can quickly turn to mush. When the vendors trust the planner, everyone works like a well-oiled machine which in turn guarantees that you get the day you want with everyone knowing exactly what is going on, where and at what point in the day.
Photo Credit: Flipmax Photography
Previous Work and Experience
Make sure you actually like the style of weddings your planner does.
Just because one may be more affordable than another, stop, have a look at their work and decide if its right for you.
Make sure you go through their socials as well as their website.
See that the weddings are real and authentic, not copied work or stock images.
A reputable planner will give credit where credit is due, and be totally honest about all aspects of a wedding. For example, if I had a stylist come in for a wedding, I would still say I planned it, but that it was styled by whoever did that part.
Similarly, those who are posting images or videos of weddings they worked on should be transparent about who planned it and if it was through their own company or another.
On top of this is their experience.
Have they been in the Bali events industry for long? What is their reputation like? Can you rely on them and/or their team for any and all questions, concerns and ideas that come to your mind?
Don’t skip a planner just because they may have been in the industry a less amount of time than another – we all have to start somewhere. But look in to HOW they’ve used their experience and if their work has progressively improved or increased in volume. That should give you a good indication of their legitimacy.
Photo Credit: Flipmax Photography
Working legally in Indonesia is a BIG deal.
Immigration is strict and Man Power laws hold a lot of power.
If you’re opting for a local planner, you’ll have less to check for in this department as they are not held to the same scrutiny and requirements as a foreign planner.
A foreign planner will need a long list of documents that have been approved by a notary and established as a legal company. They are required to pay a lot more in order to have these documents legalized and as such, it may answer your question as to why foreign planners may charge a little more – it’s usually to cover all the overheads in order to be legal here in the first place.
Not only do they need to have the approved company documents, but they also have to have a valid Stay Permit related directly to their profession (also known as a KITAS) as well as a work permit (IMTA). Just because you have a KITAS it does not mean you are legally allowed to work.
If ever in doubt, you should be able to ask your planner to provide you with all documents and they shouldn’t have any issue showing it to you.
Hiring a planner who does not cover the above will not only be risking their own company and stay in Indonesia, but yours too! Being deported on your wedding day would be the absolute worst thing to happen.
Photo Credit: Balimakna
This is soooo important!
How your planner communicates with you will be the make or break of your anxiety and stress levels of leading up to your big day.
I’ve had so many brides-to-be contact me wondering if the fact they haven’t heard from their planner for a while is concerning or that they never heard back from them after they stated what vendors they wanted.
The thing is, its YOUR job to vet your planner before you start the planning process.
I always encourage all couples to chat to a variety of planners before they select “the one”.
Things to ask them can include:
How often will I hear from you? How many days a week do you work?
How fast should I expect replies?
What methods of communication do they use?
Do we start planning straight away or closer to the date?
When you manage your expectations, you’ll manage your stress.
Different planners have different ways of operating. Some don’t actually start on your wedding plans until a few months beforehand, others will start up to 2 years in advance.
Choose the planner that best resonates with your communication style and speed at which you want to have everything finalized by. It’ll save heartache and frustration down the track.
Photo Credit: Terralogical
Time in Bali and Language Proficiency
How long have they actually been in Bali?
Yes this does matter. The longer they’ve been here, the deeper their knowledge of the island is, meaning they’re more likely than not going to be able to give you way more options for your big day. From venues to vendors, to alternative ways of doing things and knowing how the legal system works.
They’ll have more connections, relationships and this can only benefit you.
Do they speak the language? Know the customs?
While it’s easy to rely on English due to the proficiency here amongst the locals, when opting for a foreign planner, you do want someone who has an understanding of the language of the country they’re calling “home”.
Knowing the language is important because while the heads of vendor companies might speak English, the workers on the day often do not – you’ll want someone who can tell them exactly what they need to be doing.
In addition to this, there may be last minute changes or items that need to be adjusted and speed and efficiency work best in a language that is the mother tongue – always.
On the flip side, make sure if you're going with a local planner that your communication is easy and understandable. That they have a good command of both written and spoken English (or the language you're using to hire them) because there's nothing worse than thinking you've said something clearly only for it to be misunderstood or misinterpreted for something else and you don't end up with what you want.
Photo Credit: Motion House Weddings
At the end of the day, you do need to be realistic with your budget. And yes, this will include which planners you can afford in order to get the day you want, and which you can’t.
Don’t go broke just for one day. You should be able to afford your special day without having to take out a second mortgage.
Speak to various planners, they’ll all have their own prices. Show them images of what you’re after. Hopefully they can give you a ball park figure of what you’re looking at.
If the style of what you want is on the pricey side you’ll need to consider where to make cuts in your overall plan. Do you adjust your vision to work with a pricier planner that will still make it amazing? Or do you keep your style and opt for a more affordable planner?
Are flowers more important to you than food? Are you wanting customized high-quality cocktails over a live band?
If there’s a planner you really want to work with, let them know this, let them know your budget and what you’re after. They may be able to see how they can get a similar look for you with less costs – after all, that’s what you’re paying them for. Their creativity and ability to make things work.
Some have fixed minimum spends, and if it's not in your price bracket, unfortunately you'll have to cross those ones off.
If you’re open to work with anyone as long as you get what you want, then choose one that’s in your price range, but of course keeping note of the above points in this article.
Photo Credit: Iluminen
Last but certainly not least is a big one – transparency.
Never trust a planner who won’t reveal what venue they’re choosing for you or what vendors they’re enlisting before a payment.
Heck, even in the initial stages before anything is confirmed you should know what their quotes and invoices are based on.
They should be able to be totally transparent with you, letting you know the bar company they intend on using or the florist they play to enlist. This gives you your own agency to look at their work and make sure it’s what you want. It’s also good to double check the prices that your planner is quoting you are the same if not better than what the vendor has on their price list.
Don’t like the vendors they’ve selected for you? Tell them. Let them know you want to see more options or, perhaps you’ve found one yourself that you’d like to use. As long as they’re a legally operating vendor, your planner should have no issue working with them unless of course they have good reason not to which again, should be explained to you in full honesty.
Photo Credit: Balimakna
I know this was a lengthy post, but I feel it’s important.
This is such a big day of your life, you need to feel like you’re in the best hands and hands that have your best interest at heart.
There are some truly brilliant planners on this island, and I will often recommend them to my client’s if we are not available for their date or are at capacity for our yearly intake.
Take your time to make a decision that’s best for you – and the rest of your planning journey will feel easy, fun, exciting and most of all, stress-free!