What you need to know about getting married in Bali
After a holiday in any luxurious Bali accommodation, many couples excitedly decide that this magical island will be the place to say their vows. After all, Bali is almost entirely made up one scenic backdrop to the next whether it be turquoise waters, dramatic cliffs, lush jungles or peaceful rice paddies.
The prices for guests to come for an extended stay in a Bali villa is also much more approachable than even a night or two somewhere in Australia. Before you go online and book a wedding package deal, there are some important factors to keep in mind when planning such an event overseas. We’ve laid out the important steps that have legal and religious implications, as well as some good tips from people who’ve done it before. If everything has been accounted for, you’ll be on your way to tropical wedding bliss.
Getting married in Indonesia means that your marriage needs to abide by Indonesian law, simple enough. Unless you are simply planning a symbolic commitment ceremony, you’ll need to provide several official documents for an actual marriage to be permitted. Something to note is that if you want the marriage to be recognised back home in Australia, all conditions of the wedding must also fit into Australian law, i.e. age, sex, unmarried, willing etc.
The documents you’ll need to provide to the Indonesian government include:
-Any change of name evidence
-Official documentation if previous spouse has passed away
-Official documentation to confirm previous divorce if necessary
-A fee for the Australian embassy, usually around $110 AUD but paid in Rupiah, who will provide you a certificate stating there is “no impediment to marriage”, basically that your marriage would be legal in Australia as well.
Make sure you check the embassy website to confirm these details and account for any recent amendments to the law.
Indonesia requires a religious ceremony to take place on the same day as a civil ceremony in order to consider a marriage legal. Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic faiths are recognised, and the bride and groom are required to declare that they are of the same faith.
If you declare a faith other than Islamic, you will need to submit and Intention to Marry document at the Civil registry office wherever you are staying along with the document stating there is no impediment to marriage, and a few copies of four by six photos of the couple with the groom on the left side. On some occasions you will be required to complete this process in the capital of Jakarta, at the Australian embassy there. It’s important to leave extra time before your wedding date in case you need to do some traveling or if there are delays.
Catholic couples need to marry in a Catholic church. Any other recognised denominations may select their venue, and there are some ideas provided at the bottom of this post. A member of the office of religious affairs will carry out the religious aspect of the wedding, and this is often done with a translator.
Should you hire a celebrant from Australia?
Bali weddings can be done entirely through local officials, but it will either be conducted in Indonesian or Balinese, or a translator will be provided. It can be a little tricky to have a predictable script as you will be organising from Australia, so some couples choose to have an Australian celebrant conduct the wedding. This is beneficial in many ways but particularly because you can plan the wedding from home, and you’ll already be familiar with the celebrant before the big day. It also means the wedding will be easily registered at home and you won’t need to be hassled with Indonesian protocols.
Many celebrants in Australia advertise themselves as literate in the Bali wedding process and have a set fee for their trip over. They are often well versed in what is required in the legal and religious aspects, but you will need to double check with the embassy or possibly your wedding planner to make absolutely sure you’ve got everything taken care of.
Cost of a Bali Wedding
This price of a Bali wedding obviously depends on a number of factors such as the venue, the number of guests, the length of stay, choosing a package or doing it yourself… the list goes on. Several couples have managed weddings with less than 20 guests for under $5,000 AUD, but you can spend $100,000 if you want to go lush. There is really no set number but the great part of Balinese weddings is that they will always be much more affordable than the Australian equivalent, even taking flights and accommodation into consideration.
While there are wet seasons and dry seasons, you can never be absolutely sure what the weather will be like on a given day. Monsoons typically occur from October to March, but again, the weather often surprises us! So if you are planning on a public or private venue that is outdoors, such as the beach, it is important that you arrange for a plan B location nearby and under some cover. Either that or brings some rain ponchos for all your guests!
Make sure guests are drinking adequate water and getting slowly acclimatised. It can get hot and humid in Bali and it may be a big change up from where some guests have travelled.
Related post: bali weather guide month by month
Plan it yourself…. Maybe not.
Doing all of the planning yourself can be a rewarding process, and is necessary for some people who need to feel in control when it comes to the big picture and the little details. However, this can prove difficult in a foreign country if you aren’t already familiar with the language and the land, or if you’re not able to be physically present in the country during the planning process.
One way that many hotels and resorts make this easier is by offering wedding packages that include catering, photos, setup, music, the works basically. This is an extremely convenient option and usually has discounted rates for guests staying on the premises. The only downsides here is that you will have very little say in how things pan out. Often times the included photographer will be an amateur or someone that fits into a certain budget, and things like food and music can be unpredictable. The effort saved in choosing a package deal may but undercut by the overall deviation from the vision you have of your own wedding. It’s supposed to be your special day isn’t it?
Perhaps the best option to find a happy medium between total control or total lack thereof, is to hire a wedding planner who can be your advocate. Sure they will take on most of the decision making, but they will do so on an understanding of what you’re looking for and they will use their own connections and internal knowledge to make that happen. This can save you several trips overseas and trying to heckle in an unfamiliar language. If you are someone that really wants a hand in what’s going on, you can take one trip over partway through the planning and check out the venue options your planner has already set up for you. If you communicate your desires ahead of time (i.e. view of beach from the ceremony location, type of facilities available, privacy etc.) then your planner will be able to more accurately assess the suitability of certain venues, rather than relying on far away claims on the venue websites.
A note on music: If you are really nervous about the planner finding a band that will be able to play a range of music in the genres you want to have for your wedding, you can always opt for a DJ and take peace on the fact that you can choose your own music and know what to expect on your wedding day. Bali is definitely up on the music scene these days so there should be no reason you’ll need to actually fly anyone over, and it’s great to support local businesses when you’re able to!
A note on flowers: Many beautiful flowers are native to Bali and can be easily purchased for the day of the wedding. Another advantage of using a wedding planner is that you can decide on which arrangements suit your own personality, whereas a hotel will have a limited selection that is chosen ahead of time and may have additional unnecessary costs.
Cautions about weddings in Bali
Make sure you find a wedding planner or package deal from a trustworthy source. This means either through word of mouth, or through physically travelling to the island and staying in a Bali villa for a few days to meet your planner or talk to the resort in person. This is important because there are some scammers who will take your money online, promise that everything is cared for, and you may show up with all your guests for a non-existent event.
As mentioned previously, if you’re choosing to have a legal wedding in Bali, make sure you have all documentation prepared ahead of time. In addition, plan for extra travel time and costs in case you need to fly to the embassy in Jakarta or if things are delayed. Make extra copies of everything and keep track of your original documents.
There has also been much controversy about same-sex weddings in Bali, so it’s important to double and triple check with your wedding planner if you are unsure about the legal recognition of your ceremony.
An important note about beach weddings in Bali is that all beaches are legal considered public property. This means that it will be difficult to ensure that your wedding is a private affair if you do choose to have it directly on the beachfront. Many venues and restaurants get around this by holding weddings on their own property overlooking the beach, or up on a cliff with the sea as a backdrop. This applies whether you are planning the wedding yourself or if you have done so through a resort.
Bali Wedding Venue ideas:
There are so many extravagant and dream-like places to have your special day, it can be overwhelming to decide. While this is a great task to hand-over to your wedding planner, it can be helpful to provide them with some general ideas of the scenery you are interested in. As noted above, catholic weddings will need to be held in a Catholic chapel, unless you are simply enjoying a commitment ceremony as opposed to a legal wedding.
To get the thinking juices going, here are some possible venue ideas to play with:
-The classic Bali beachfront wedding
-A garden wedding among the tropical plant life
-A picturesque ceremony among the traditional rice paddies
-In one of the many beautiful chapels
-In a restaurant that overlooks the sea, which can double as reception area
-Have a small wedding in a private villa
If you still aren’t sure where to start, what better way than to take a little trip to Bali to check out some locations yourself. Grab your honey and book into a Canggu Villa or Seminyak villa and get to know the beautiful land where you will soon be reading your vows.