Bride Talks Budget: Maximising Your Dollars for a Bali Wedding

You loved our first “Bride Talks Budget” article so we couldn’t wait to bring you another! After featuring the beautiful Bali wedding of Judd and Sonya, we just knew we had to speak with the bride about her planning process and tips on maximising wedding dollars in Bali (no arm twisting required, this lovely lady was so happy to share!) Read on for some wonderful cost-saving ideas that we’re sure will not only benefit couples planning destination weddings, but all wedding everywhere!

From the bride…
It doesn’t really matter what your budget is, by simply thinking outside the box, you can squeeze every dollar and maximise what you get for it. Here are some of my tips and budgeting tricks for a wedding in Bali.

1. Prioritise your budget
This was the very first thing we did. What was important to us both, we would splurge on, and what was least important would get the smallest portion of our budget. We both agreed that an amazing and beautiful wedding day without incredible photos and videos to look back on would be a huge waste! Which is why we spent the most on our photographer and videographer. We found the best of the best and flew him to Bali and it was the best decision we made. Getting pre-wedding photos the morning of, is also an absolute must - trying to get it done after the ceremony will be rushed and you’ll be so excited you won’t even want to! 

2. A note on wedding planners
Wedding coordinators can be an expense that ends up saving you time and money in the long run. They are there on location, doing all the talking for you (especially if you can’t speak Bahasa) - which means less travel for you, and no mix-ups or mishaps which could cost you even more! On that note, I’d pass on any wedding planners who cost too much. I used to judge a wedding planner by the beautiful photos they’d show me of the weddings they’ve done - but that’s just a trick! The beautiful decor was done by the florist they chose - this isn’t an actual reflection of the wedding planner. The most important thing is how efficient they seem, and if they really listen to what you want and offer valuable solutions.

3. Do your research
Having said that, don’t rely too much or put all your trust in wedding planners. They may have their contacts in the industry but those contacts aren't necessarily the cheapest! This happened on many occasions for me - I wanted engraved stones as wedding favours. My wedding planner quoted me $5 per a stone. I did my research online and found them for only $2! The same thing happened with my fire dancers and several other vendors too. Also, florists will try to quote imported flowers so they can get creative - but there are plenty of local flowers that will cost much less (and even stay pretty for longer!)

4. Cut things in half
You can create the same look and feel that you’re going for without paying full price. For example, a classic wedding Tiffany chair costs around $8 to rent. If you get a set for both your ceremony and reception space - that’s double the amount you actually need to spend. Just get one set, and have them moved after the ceremony, your guests will be so engrossed in conversation and cocktails they won’t even notice! Also, placing beautiful large floral centrepieces on every OTHER table will create almost the exact same luxe look for half the price! And, for desserts it would have cost us $7 per person for dessert (so 100 guests x $7 = $700), but we set up a beautiful dessert buffet and only ordered 50 orders of dessert ($350 total). We only spent half the amount on desserts and they didn't even get finished!

5. Fun factor
It can be oh-so-easy to get lost in the world of flowers and decor and making everything as beautiful as can be (I’m talking about you, creative brides!) but the plain truth is, most of your guests will not notice the expensive peonies on the bridal table, the custom logo engraved napkins you brought over in your suitcase, the ribbons you hand-tied on all the stationery or even the special 4-course menu you put together (yes, I did all of this!) However, they WILL remember if they had fun, if they danced the night away, if they were entertained or if the alcohol ran out half way through! So when it comes to prioritising your budget - make sure that you are spending money on the RIGHT things. And yes, a free flow bar was the best splurge decision we made absolutely 100%, HANDS DOWN! Now go and put it at the top of your list!

6. Music
There is no better mood-shifter than good music. Which is why this should be one of your biggest priorities - putting together that amazing playlist. It makes all the difference, trust me! If you can’t afford a DJ or live band, an iPod playlist will work equally well. Make sure you stock up on the best Hip Hop grooves and old dance classics to keep your guests happy all night long. If you do hire a DJ, it is very important to discuss the playlist in advance as you will know your guests better than him/her, and you don't have to worry about the wrong style of music being played. Some DJs may want to play more original or unique sets, but your wedding might not be the right time to test out his new playlists!

7. Wedding locations in Bali
Getting around in Bali can be difficult to say the least! We had a group of guests show up at the wrong wedding and ended up missing our entire ceremony! This is why I highly recommend you keep your ceremony and reception venue at the same resort/villa. And make sure you put up signs everywhere and give them an arrival time well in advance before the ceremony. Due to the hot weather, we agreed that a cliff-top wedding far above sea level would keep it breezy, not to mention the fantastic views! Stay away from tents unless absolutely necessary, they may look beautiful, but they also trap heat - you don’t want to make it even hotter than Bali already is! Oh and don’t forget to take advantage of that villa pool with a post-wedding pool party, it’ll feel so good to be able to breathe again without your wedding dress on and totally let loose with your friends.

8. Take advantage of everything that’s cheap!
There are so many advantages to getting married in Bali, especially the services - they are just so cheap (especially when compared to Singapore), so when it came to doing that little bit extra to make the guests' experiences even better, it was a no-brainer. We arranged buses for the VIPs (because bus hire is so inexpensive!) I pampered my bridesmaids with manis and pedis (they’re less than $10 per service). We had too many white roses to count (so beautiful yet they're the cheapest local flowers in Bali!)

9. Don’t share too much
A lot of vendors will ask you where your wedding venue is before they give you a quote! Avoid telling them, because if you are holding your wedding at a luxury hotel, trust me, you will get a higher quote. Try to negotiate everything before you hire them so there are no surprises!

10. A few final tips
Some other things we did that made ALL the difference were keeping the speeches to just a few, writing our own vows, Balinese fire dancers, a choreographed first dance, an extra long pre-dinner cocktail session (2 hours of free flow got everyone very comfortable and “happy” by dinner) ooh and salted caramel cake - an absolute must! ;)

When it comes to finding a wedding dress, my best advice would be to not rush into anything! I have heard WAY too many times that brides, after finding a dress, change their mind or see something better! Definitely try to see as many options as you can, because although you may think you have found your dream dress, this could easily change when you see something even nicer. The problem is that there are just FAR too many options out there!  I was always of the opinion that Singapore's selections were overpriced compared to what I could possibly find in the U.S., not to mention there would probably be a wider variety overseas, but perhaps I just didn't look around enough! For a day as special as my wedding day, I definitely wanted to have as many options as possible, so because I was going to be there anyway, finding "the one" in the U.S. seemed the best option for me.


Thank you for sharing these great tips and tricks with us Sonya, we’re sure it'll help our couples planning their weddings! Have some top tips of your own, Wedding Scoopers? Please drop us a comment below or over on Facebook or Instagram! :)