Whoever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too never got married in Bali.
Every couple wants their wedding to be beautiful, fun, memorable. Put simply – they want it perfect. And why shouldn’t they? That’s exactly how your wedding should be no matter if it’s just the two of you eloping or you’ve invited over 200 guests!
However, that doesn’t mean you need to spend so much that you have to take out a second mortgage or sell your soul to the devil.
Afterall, let’s not forget what a wedding really is. It’s the bringing together of all those you love, to witness the union of you and your soulmate in blissful happiness. All those things surrounding you? The lights, the music, the food, the flowers…they create the atmosphere, and they definitely elevate what could just be just a get-together amongst loved ones into a proper wedding, but oftentimes couples feel defeated by some of the absurd quotes they get and feel their dream just isn’t achievable.
We’re here to tell you it IS. And here are some little tricks to save money here and there that may seem small individually, but when added up, could really make your dream a reality – and spare some savings for a little post-wedding getaway!
This is a tough one. Often half your budget can go towards this and leave you with difficult decisions about the actual wedding side of your big day.
Villas make you stay for a minimum night period – often 3 nights or more, then add an event fee, then add a banjar fee, and if you want fireworks, you need a permit. All those costs before you even get to planning your wedding!
Benefit of this option though is that the villas are YOURS for the entirety of your stay, making it totally private and only you and those you invited can have any access whatsoever to it.
Resorts are similarly restrictive. You generally must purchase a wedding package to have your wedding there to begin with, and these packages come with stock standard set ups which let’s face it, not all couples will like as it’s not even their style. Removing any aspect won’t change the package price, and any changes hike the price up. Plus, you’re required to use their in-house food and beverage packages which are priced at hotel prices which are often more expensive than independent catering companies.
The upside of resorts is everyone can stay in one place, eliminating confusing directions to obscure villas or extra costs on transport getting your guests to one place.
Two ways to cut costs here are:
1. Opt for a venue only space. One where there is no accommodation, but in not having that you are afforded the same privacy of a villa but without the minimum stays. This means you are literally just paying for the venue, and can then choose wherever you want to stay for the night (or nights) without the minimum night restrictions or event fees.
This also works for restaurants where yes, you’d need to use their in-house F&B, but the rest is yours to do with as you like.
2. Go for the villa option, buy out the entire place, then give your guests the options to rent the rooms there, rather than them finding nearby resorts. When the rooms are broken down into individual costs, they often add up to the same amount one would pay for at a resort so may as well keep as many close by as possible to not only save costs, but to keep the bulk of your party with you so that your day isn’t delayed with guests arriving at all times potentially halting the timeline for the day.
If you’re getting married in Bali, why not go local? Indonesia has a plethora of stunning florals and greenery of all textures, colours, sizes and shapes. It’s a total shame not to incorporate them into your special day. The extra bonus? They’re two to three times more affordable than imported flowers. Plus, local flowers are literally designed by nature to withstand the heat and humidity here. Often imported flowers that are typically grown in colder climates wilt within the hour simply because they cannot survive the climate.
If you have your heart set on a particular style or flower, and they happen to be imported, then consider mixing it with local equivalents to cut the cost.
Or use the flowers you have your heart set on for your bouquet and arbor only, and use the same palate for the rest of the décor but in local varieties. This way you get the best of both worlds and really slash the price of florals.
Our personal opinion? While flowers ARE important, its lighting that makes the mood. Lets consider for a minute that the average Bali wedding ceremony starts around 4pm. It’s just too hot before then, and the vendors need ample time to set up the venue.
This literally gives you two hours of day light give or take half an hour, and the rest of the evening is in darkness. So, where your wedding will really shine – quite literally – is in the lighting. You can get incredible lighting for so much cheaper than flowers, so by going for a minimal floral look or focusing on local foliage for the dining and décor, you have a lot of budget left to keep, and you and your guests will feel like you’re in a fairy light cocoon of magic for the rest of the event.
Catering on the island really does range. You can get top tier, five-star caterers where all tables, chairs, and tableware are included. You can also get super budget options, which are SUPER affordable and still tasty thanks to how fast the culinary scene here in Bali has developed. Some pointers from us though on how to choose yummy but affordable food.
1. Don’t underestimate a buffet. There’s still a lot of people who seem to think that buffets are a kitschy set up where luke-warm food is held in silver bain-maries and blank-eyed servers standing behind them – think 1980 cruise ship style. This is NOT the case here. Caterers here (any decent one) will bring a whole mobile kitchen set up to your event where the food is cooked fresh and displayed in really unique ways to match your décor using everything from clay pots to brass display bowls. They add an element of wow to your night too.
2. Local menus tend to be cheaper. Choosing Indonesian food to serve your guests is not only a great introduction to what is such a big part of the culture here for those who’ve never been, but because Indonesian menus obviously rely only on local ingredients, the costs will be much, much less.
3. The trend of weddings being less formal and more of a get together of loved ones has been on a significant upward trend the past few years, particularly post pandemic. Having a standing cocktail menu for the dinner where smaller plates are handed around throughout the evening can often be much cheaper than a sit-down menu, even with the more expensive caterers. It allows people to mingle and chat, and gives room in your budget to add a late-night live food stall for the late-night munchies, all still under the cost of a sit-down menu. Plus, the stalls add some extra entertainment for the night.
Now we’re not saying don’t have a cake, in fact, the cake plays such a pivotal role in a wedding, often acting as the divider between dinner and party time. But, at least in our experience, hardly anyone eats it. After dinner, everyone is full to the brim, plus most caterers include a dessert option or course in their packages so by the time the cake is cut and served, two? Maybe three people will take it?
So here are a couple options we think could help with that.
1. Bigger isn’t always better. Often couples get a cake not even because they want it, but because their parents or grandparents want to keep the tradition alive and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead, opt for a small one, for cutting purposes only, then put it away and eat it for breakfast in bed as husband and wife…not a bad way to start married life!
2. Speak to your caterer about what cost reductions are possible if the dessert portion of the menu was cut out, and instead replaced with your wedding cake. There’s really no reason to have two desserts unless of course you have a particular sweet tooth.
3. Ditch the cake all together and go for an alternative such as a donut wall, champagne tower, chocolate fountain or mini cupcakes. They still mark the occasion, and depending on who you order from, can come in at a lot cheaper than a big grand wedding cake.
Thankfully, cocktails aren’t as expensive here as they are in the west, so most couples can really give their guests the full open bar experience at their weddings.
However, as many would know, wine and champagne is a bit of a problem. There aren’t many decent local wines around, and anything imported is priced at three times what they should be.
We recommend going for a spirits bar only where your guests will still have access to beers, cocktails and spirits throughout the night, but the wines and champagne are supplied by the couple. At the time of writing this post, Indonesia allows one litre of alcohol per person to be brought into the country. So why not use this opportunity to ask each guest to bring a bottle of wine or champagne? You can stipulate the labels, or buy what you want in bulk, and the guests can each bring one over as your wedding gift. That way you get to drink quality products, at normal prices, and have it all. The best part is, most reputable bar companies won’t charge corkage for this.
Gosh, the prices really do range in this category and it’s hard to choose who you want because even checking out the various photography company’s social media accounts, you may only see a glimpse of their potential or what they can do for you.
Don’t judge the photos by the poses of the couples on there – all photographers take their direction from the clients so if one seems a bit cheesy and posed, or one seems too serious, just keep in mind this is what the couple in the pictures would have wanted.
Instead look at the style of photos, the lighting, the use of negative and positive space, and the quality of the final edits.
Photography is literally the only thing you have to take home to remember your wedding by, so we'd actually advise using a bulk of your budget on choosing the right photographer for you, whether they charge $1000 or $5000, choose based what will reflect the day best for you, and your planner should be able to work the rest of your wedding around your budget regardless of which photographer you go with.
When it comes to the number of hours, go with less. Most photographers give you the option to extend on the night, so if you’re unsure about this aspect go with six or eight hours. Should you want more, no problem, but there’s no point spending money on a full day only to have the photographers sitting around by 10pm because they’ve literally gotten every shot possible by that point in the night.
Keep it digital. There are so many wedding websites and wedding invitation platforms to use these days, that the cost is more in the time it takes you to make one, not financially.
Sending out invitations, using a digital RSVP system and then making the order of the day a downloadable PDF not only saves a LOT in traditional invitation costs, but is a hell of a lot better for the environment too!
Hair and Makeup
There are sooo many options on the island, and this really does come down to personal taste. The only thing we’ll say about this one is the larger your bridal party, the more expensive it’ll be. Hair and makeup does NOT come cheap, not anyone decent anyway.
Give hair and makeup as options to your bridal party and let them choose if they want it. That way it cuts some major costs for the bride, and leaves the choice of spending money on hair and makeup to the individual bridesmaids.
Most importantly, stick to the local vendors available here on the island.
There is boundless talent here, and really no need to hire or fly over vendors from overseas. Make sure you exhaust your list of vendors on the island before you consider outside options. Not only are you likely to find what you need here, but bringing someone in from outside the country – whether they’re a paid professional or a friend doing their service as a gift – will still need the applicable work permits to do so. This costs upwards of $2500 and can take two or more months to finalise. It’s an extra cost you just don’t need, and bypassing the visa requirements can cost you a lot more should you get found out. We’re talking thousands of dollars in fines, jail time and deportation. Yup – even if its just a friend or family member doing the “work” for free as unfortunately, it’s not considered that way under Indonesian law.
Stay safe, save money and go local. Winner every time.