Since having my own destination wedding in Bali this year, I have had several people reach out to me on behalf of themselves or friends. And it makes me so happy to hear that so many people are considering a destination wedding. I really loved that we were able to share such a special place with our loved ones. And the feedback from our guests was that they really enjoyed getting away and spending time with people they hadn’t seen in awhile. You can see the wedding recap post here.
But in case you’re here debating how to go about planning your own destination wedding here are the top questions I’ve received so far!
How did you choose/ which venue did you choose?
I put these two questions together because the answer will go hand in hand. From the minute we decided to have our wedding in Bali, I already knew that I would be reaching out to Kamandalu Resort in Ubud. Kevin and I loved our stay there in 2017 and since we first saw Alun Alun (the location of our ceremony) I imagined getting married there. BUT! that being said your decision will be based a lot off of what type of ceremony location you want.
I only reached out to Kamandalu and the Ritz Carlton Mandapa because we knew we did not want a beach wedding. Kevin and I agreed we loved the jungle greens of Ubud more. I do not recommend having your wedding somewhere you have never been. The logistics will be SO much harder to plan. So if you have to pop over to check it out before making your decision – I super recommend it.
What was your experience like planning a destination wedding?
To answer this questions I’ll put this into a pros and cons list
- A lot of the popular destination wedding venues will usually have a package deal option. (food, decor, and cake)
- It felt pretty hands-off and low maintenance until a few months before the actual wedding. I honestly didn’t feel a lot of the stress of planning the wedding until 2 months prior. So that was great.
- This could be a con also depending on where you are having your wedding, but because the wedding is far. The options for doing a lot of DIY items is almost none. However, because Bali is a lot cheaper than the states, we were able to purchase/ rent them through our decorator at a reasonable price.
- Since Bali is so far, we were not able to do a cake or food tasting. However because we had stayed at the resort previously we knew their food was delicious.
- Did not have the budget/time to do a wedding makeup trial until a few days before the wedding when I arrived.
- Hard to pick, or know which vendors to use. Even though our venue wedding package included so much, I still needed to find photography, video, and makeup.
TL;DR – I think it helped with the stress levels that it’s a destination wedding. But pretty hard to pick/ find vendors.
TIP: A good website to find vendors for destination wedding planners here.
Did I have a wedding planner?
The most popular question I received about planning and I did NOT have a planner. And in hindsight, it would have helped with sourcing the vendors etc… But I don’t regret not hiring a wedding planner for the whole process. It was totally manageable once I found Bridestory. HOWEVER, I do wish I hired a planner/ coordinator for the days leading up to and the day of the wedding. I spent a lot of the days before the wedding in meetings/ prepping last minute details. And I wish I had someone that could have done that part for me so I could spend time with my family and friends enjoying Bali.
How many guests can you expect at a destination wedding?
For our wedding, because Bali is so far – I honestly expected a guestlist of about 55. But we ended up with about 85 guests and I am so grateful to our amazing family and friends made the trek there. I think the number of invites we sent out total was about 150. Our original plan was to have a small intimate wedding in Bali, and have a Chinese banquet event locally in California for everyone else who couldn’t make it. But then we moved to Amsterdam and there just wasn’t any time for us to come back to host it. That being said, do NOT invite anyone out of pressure or obligation. This is your special day and you do not need to give out pity invites, and I’m sure nobody wants to receive a pity/ reluctant invite as well!
Advice to give your guests
I created a fb group for all of our guests and regularly posted flight deals to Bali haha. It’s also a good way to update everyone at once, since there is more logistical planning needed than for a local wedding. (Car service to the hotel, how to get a SIM card, etc). A few weeks before the wedding I sent out a practical packing list, weather forecast, and final updated schedule of event.
How did you decide what date to have your wedding?
According to Google, Bali has two seasons wet and dry lol. And the wet season begins in October and goes through April! And keep in mind if you book a venue during “peak” season (which is usually decided by how nice the weather will be) it will be more expensive. So you will have the assurance of good weather. A venue coordinator in California told me once that since there’s always pretty good weather, its just busy all year round haha.
So we decided August 31! Because it’s the the tail end of tourist season, and far enough away from wet season. But also most importantly because it was a long weekend for Americans, and therefore more likely that people would be able to attend! 🙂 Keep in mind though that Bali is a tropical island and the weather is relatively unpredictable. There can be showers suddenly and then clear up to the most beautiful day. The week before the wedding Google predicted showers on my wedding day and I was had major anxiety – but luckily we were blessed with clear skies! (Tip from my decorator – Ubud weather because it’s so central is even more unpredictable).
How much should I budget for my dress?
I purchased my dress from Sarah Seven because it was everything that was me. I knew I didn’t want a slim fit dress because how often do you get to wear a puffy dress in life? And also because comfort over everything. I went into dress shopping completely clueless about how much dresses could cost and thought that $1500 was already a lot. But here’s a range breakdown.
A beautiful Berta can cost you ~$8k+.
Sarah Seven’s are about $3k.
A pre-owned dress will be more in the $1-2k range.
That being said I definitely went over my original idea of $1500 haha. So to make up for it, I did not do an outfit change for the rehearsal. Think of it this way. I paid $4k for a dress (including alteration costs). I will wear it for about 8 hours. Thats $500/ hr for my dress! And if you wear it only for the ceremony it’s even more. But these are all just numbers at the end of the day. When I put my dress on I felt so giddy and magical and I knew when I tried it on it was the one! So keep that in mind, but also be practical haha.
- Who paid for Bridesmaid makeup and hair?
I paid for all my bridal party hair and makeup, as well as for the mothers and Kevin’s sister. However, not all of my bridal party got both hair and makeup done.
- First look or walking down the aisle first look?
This one was a toughie because although I love the idea of having Kevin see me for the first time down the aisle. After researching a lot – I decided to do first look. It is a lot more intimate and special, just between the two of you. A moment to have together before the ceremony and party. Also apparently a lot of grooms feel more relaxed for the ceremony if this happens beforehand as well.
- How can I make my wedding more eco-friendly?
Hmmm well, some changes I made was to have only one printed menu per table. And did not have an agenda handout for the guests. My friend is having her wedding and will be using Bamboo leaf plates or something. They look super cute and are biodegradable and eco-friendly!
- Fairy lights – just get them.
- Videography – just do it.
- First dance – Pick a song thats not tooo slow because it gets boring. Classes are great, if you can find good pricing. Otherwise find a Youtube video you like, and play it at half speed to teach yourself like we did!
- Open bar – We did a cocktail hour with only 2 signature cocktails, beer and wine. With an open bar all throughout reception.
Thank you to these amazing vendors! I honestly can’t thank them enough! And if you have any other questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond 🙂