How to choose your vendors!
This is soooo important. Making sure you choose the right vendors for your big day is key. One wrong choice and it can potentially ruin your entire day. I'm not even joking.
This is often why, at least with our clients, I always recommend certain vendors because I can personally vouch for several factors that I think turn a regular vendor into a top tier one.
You want to make sure they fulfil the following:
Top quality products and/or services
Proven record of success
Rupert + Junie | The Outdoor Escape
In the past, we've had clients who "knew" someone in Bali who could help with bar, or with decor or whatever it may be that they were capable of. And while I have no doubt they were good at it, being good at something, and providing it as a service for something as major as a wedding, are two totally different things.
We've had clients want their wedding bars run by "friends" that have run out of alcohol by 8pm. Drivers in charge of transport that got lost. You get the idea.
And I know our clients simply want to include them and help them out financially, but take it from me, it's just not worth the stress on your big day. Include them as guests to your wedding, they'll be so honoured to be a part of it, and leave the task of finding your vendors to your planner.
We rarely take on clients now who insist on organising their own suppliers. Unless of course its an established company or we have heard of their services and can check/review them for ourselves. It's not that we are being difficult. Nor is it because we only work with certain vendors. I like my clients to have total free choice for their day and if they present me with a supplier that I haven't worked with before but provides a service or product in the category our client is after, then that's totally fine.
But we are strict, and it's purely because we want the best for your big day.
Jimmy + Talia | Evermotion Photography
Not sure if I really need to go into too much depth for this one...I have a post covering the benefits of having a planner is in one of my previous posts which you can read about here.
Basically, most if not all villas in Bali now require you to have one. Some may come with an in house planner, but most will rely on you sourcing your own.
There are now sooo many planners on the island so it can be confusing who to go with, especially with quite a number of them falling into the top tier categories.
Of course it helps to do your due-diligence and research their experience, read what previous clients had to say about them, see photos of their work. But I strongly urge you to speak to all the ones you're interested in. What worked for one client may not work for another. Some clients like to be totally involved while others are happy to leave it in the hands of the planner.
This is the person you'll be in contact with throughout the duration of your planning right up to the big day, so you need to be able to feel a rapport with them, and most importantly, trust them. They're your eyes and ears on the ground. If youre someone who needs constant updates, find out what their communication style is. Are they fast responders? Do they have set hours when you can contact them? Are they only available on email? Do they speak English as well as Indonesian fluently?
Other things to consider are things such as their relationships with vendors, their payment terms, their transparency and what you actually get for what you pay. They will all vary.
Every time I get a call from a new potential client, I ALWAYS tell them to shop around and speak to as many other planners as possible. Its so important that you feel comfortable with who you choose because at the end of the day, you don't just want your wedding to be stress-free, but the whole lead up to it also.
Nathan + Sammy | Siempre Wedding Photography
Florists often do lighting as well, so if you can get one that does both, then there's less fuss and less people on the day. Plus they're used to working together so will already have a system that works for them to get through the day efficiently and professionally.
You want a florist who doesn't only do one theme. While they can have their own style - and they all do, they're creatives after all - they need to be able enough to suit your brief. They need to have access to florals and foliage both domestically and internationally, and know how to treat and arrange them so that they last throughout the day and night.
As flowers can also quickly add up, its worth speaking to them to ask where the bulk of the costs are coming from so that you know if you want to increase, decrease or change the flowers to an option more suited to your budget but without compromising your vision. A true florist will have many alternatives that you can use.
A common flower brides like to incorporate in their day for example are peonies. I love peonies too, obsessed actually. But they don't grow locally, their petals are tissue paper thin and they're just not strong enough to withstand the heat or humidity. Your florist should be able to come up with several alternatives - whether its a flower found locally or an international import that is more durable in Indonesia's climate.
Overall, they should be able to achieve your look and fit it into a budget provided it's realistic. Don't think that ordering pampas grass for the entire wedding will cost the same as decorating it all in green foliage.
Lloyd + Lauren | Evermotion Photography
Photography + Videography
This is basically all you'll have to remember your wedding day after all is said and done, so choosing the right one is a major decision, if not one of the most important ones.
This is also a particular skill that you'll find so many people claim they have, but few really know what they're doing.
With photography and videography, you get what you pay for - to an extent. I've seen a few individuals or companies now who charge about two-three times the amount of what I'd consider standard in Bali, and to be perfectly honest, the work is no more special than their lesser counterparts, nor do their packages include more. So make sure you speak to your planner if you have any concerns about the costs.
You'll also obviously have a certain style you like, whether its candid or posed, romantic or journalistic. My biggest advice is to go with a photographer who's natural style is like the one youre after. Dont choose a photographer just because they're popular but then tell them to do a style which doesn't come naturally to them. They may be super talented at what they do, but each style comes with an eye, and you either have it or you don't. Mediocre photos belong with mediocre love...in the bin!
Martin + Laura | Diktat Photography
I think one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to Bali is the food. The sheer variety and quality you can get there is outstanding, so it's totally normal to have high expectations for your wedding.
There are a number of reputable caterers on the island, and they're becoming increasingly diverse with what they offer, from buffets and sit down dinners, to live food stalls and cocktail style dining.
I'd say its imperative to have a tasting prior to your wedding. Make sure the food you are ordering doesn't just present well, but that it's tasty too. You'll get an in depth look at the quality of the produce, the equipment it's served on, and how it will be served. All these aspects come together on the day.
Are the caterers flexible with allergies? Can you swap items in the menus? Can they customise menus for you? Are tables and chairs included? If not what are the extra costs?
If you have a favourite restaurant, unless they already provide a catering service, think twice about engaging their services for the big day. They're often able to present their dishes in a certain way due to their stock on hand and their kitchen layout which would be next to impossible to replicate on remote kitchen set up. Furthermore, they'd be used to serving plates to order, not necessarily all dishes at once to 80 people.
Save the restaurants for pre or post wedding dinners, and stick with legitimate caterers for the big day.
Chris + Louisa | Eyecon Photography
You really want to choose well with this one. With so many stories of fake alcohol in Indonesia, you need to be sure that whoever you engage for your bar is only serving legitimate alcohol that you can rest assured will have no dire effects on you and your guests apart from a hangover the next day.
Unless your planner recommends them, its worth asking who their alcohol supplier is and what range of alcohol they are able to get in.
You also don't want to get a "friend" to do it as mentioned above.
So many of our clients consider Bali a second home, and as such, have many local friends. Its great that they can serve beer at their little beach bar at sunset, but they most certainly wouldn't be able to do a night of non-stop free flow drinks for a wedding of 60 plus. A great way to support them is perhaps to order your beers through them, but get the bar you hire for your wedding to look after spirits and the actual making of the cocktails.
Also find out if the bar you choose has limited hours for when they serve alcohol, and whether they offer free corkage or not. I always discourage clients from bringing their own spirits - trust me, it never works out in the end and you'll always be short - but I do encourage them to bring their own wine and champagne. These two items are super hard to find in bali if youre after taste and affordability. If you're a wine buff, you'll definitely have your favourites so I'd save your BYO budget for that.
Ellie + Georgie | Eyecon Photography
Bali is in no shortage of sweets, and cakes can be found at most cafes and restaurants.
If you want a cake specifically created and designed for your day, then you'll planner will know the top people to go to. Doing it this way you can also dictate the ingredients, making sure intolerances are catered for, as well as the overall look.
If however, you are like an increasingly high number of clients who don't place a high importance on the cake, your planner can source a basic but tasty one at a super affordable price.
Mitchell's 40th | Eyecon Photography
Hair and Makeup
Like catering, this is one I suggest my clients to have a trial with before securing them for their wedding day. Each bride's style is totally unique. Some are used to wearing makeup, some aren't. Some like bold looks, others want a barely-there minimal look. Whatever the case may be, you won't know what you'll get unless you try it for yourself. You also need to know what products they use, their hygiene practices, and how the makeup will last for a full day in Bali humidity.
Chris + Deanna | Eyecon Photography
What's a party without a little entertainment??
You'll need something to keep the energy flowing, and whether you choose a band, a dj, or performances of some kind, make sure they can deliver what they advertise, and that there are no hidden costs.
There are a lot of acts that will state their price, but then when it comes to the invoice, you'll see that their price doesn't include food and drinks that they'll request on the night, or the equipment they need to actually perform. Speak to your planner for a price comparison too when the act states equipment will be a certain cost. Your planner will have contacts in the tech department, so it may be the case that the performers have a great deal for you, or, perhaps they are over charging because they'll have to hire a car to bring it all. Whatever the case, it's worth finding out.
Faisal + Natasha | Terralogical
Above all, and I'd say most importantly, make sure they are LEGAL.
So many suppliers, vendors, services and individuals will have amazing offers for your big day, and chances are they're legitimate. But in Indonesia, in order to work, you need the correct documentation and visas to provide your product or service. Failure to produce these documents when requested should be seen as dubious and I'd suggest cancelling all interactions with them. Hiring them without the correct paperwork can lead into an absolute nightmare from them getting deported, your planner getting fined or licence revoked (for allowing it in the first place) or you could get into serious trouble with authorities too.
This also includes times when the client wants one of their guests to be the celebrant or dj. Regardless if the guest is doing it for free or as a wedding gift, the Indonesian authorities do not and will not see it that way...seeing it instead as giving work to someone else when a local or someone with permits has paid their taxes and are now left out of a job.
You can, however, apply for artist visas whereby your friend or family member can get one to use to perform on your big day. Your planner will know more about this. Same goes for international photographers. They absolutely need to apply for the correct permit, or risk the consequences.
Jordan + Kat | Terralogical
Although I didn't want to end on a negative note, I feel its important for you all to know exactly what to look for in your vendor. The last thing you want on your wedding day is a supplier who doesn't show up, is an illegal worker or cannot provide what they advertise that they can.
If you go by my guide above, you should be on your way to a hassle free and smooth dream day!