Ask an expert: Jess Lee of Q Events on how to plan a destination wedding in Bali

Planning any good event is stressful. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend on Pinterest or Google; creating a perfect wedding takes a lot of effort. Between getting the venue, sorting out decorations, going to tastings and fittings, planning one becomes a full-time job! And if you’re already working a full-time job, you most definitely do not need the pressure of juggling a second one!

To get it right takes a lot of effort, so to keep your stress levels down, we talked to Jessica Lee of Q Events in Bali. Jessica has been planning weddings and events in Bali for over four years and during that time has acquired a wealth of knowledge about planning the perfect destination wedding. Read on to learn her tips and tricks of the trade, plus some of her favourite wedding moments!

Jessica Lee. Image Courtesy of Q Events

How long in advance should couples start planning a Bali wedding?

12 – 18 months out from your chosen wedding date is ideal. It gives you plenty of time to secure your preferred wedding venue and all your key suppliers.

When should couples tell the guests about the wedding and how much information do they need to give out when?

My suggestion is you send save the dates the moment you have confirmed your venue! This will give loved ones enough time to plan. Then, I recommend creating a personalised wedding website which some companies offer for free.

(*Insider tip* check out With Joy and The Knot.)

Creating and sending a wedding website to guests that gives a lot of information not just on the wedding but on Bali itself is incredibly helpful.  You can also update the site as you go with more relevant information for guests, such as shuttle times and locations for transport to the venue.

So, how many people should couples invite? 

A lot of couples assume 20-30% of the guests won’t be able to make it. More often than not, however, they are surprised when more guests RSVP than anticipated. Who wouldn’t use a wedding as the perfect excuse to make a trip to Bali? I have to remind couples of this all the time!

So, as I said, couples are often shocked with the actual total number of guests that do RSVP. If you’re having a wedding at a villa that can only accommodate 50 guests, I would recommend double checking your guest list to make sure you are confident you will only get that number.

Read also: Destination Wedding Lessons – the Good, the Bad, the Hilarious

What are the benefits of having a wedding at a villa versus a resort?

I find it hard not to recommend a villa because it is a blank canvas. We can bring your wedding dream and vision to life at a villa. At a resort, you’ll likely have a resort package that can often have limitations and no flexibility.

Not to mention, with a villa, you also get an incredible and private stay with your family or bridal party for three-plus nights, making the whole destination wedding experience something extra special.

A wedding at Villa Suami. Image Courtesy of Q Events

How many times should a couple visit Bali and their venue before the big day?

This is very much dependent on the specific couple! Some couples are not able to come to Bali before the wedding and have to put their trust in the wedding planner entirely.

It also really comes down to where the couple is based. I do suggest if they can make the trip at least once to have a food tasting, see the venue in real life, have a hair and makeup trial, they should! Of course, a trip also means that the wedding planner can get to know the client better and join them on the tasting and vendor meetings for that extra insider knowledge!

When do couples typically need to find vendors if planning from abroad?

As soon as the date is locked, we will then suggest the next steps. You need to secure popular vendors early. Essential vendors include photographer and videographer, hair and makeup, entertainment (band/DJ), celebrant and florist.

How easy is it to plan for guests’ dietary needs when having a wedding in Bali, e.g. gluten-free cakes etc.

All catering companies are happy to accommodate vegetarian and gluten-free dietary needs. Bali even has several companies offering vegan catering and cakes now!

Is there anything in particular couples should be aware of prior to deciding to get married in Bali, e.g. religious holidays, cultural differences?

Each year Bali has a silent day, Nyepi, where even the airport closes. So, having a wedding on that day is not possible, but that is the only day that isn’t possible. Villas are most expensive during high season, which is July – August typically (because those are the best weather months). We suggest if you don’t have a specific date in mind choosing those shoulder months, being June and September, to avoid high rates. Also, Christmas and New Years are more expensive as well.

Image Courtesy of Q Events

What are some common misconceptions about having a wedding in Bali?

A lot of people perceive Bali to be a cheap holiday destination, which it can be. Unfortunately, this also means there is the misconception that a wedding in Bali will be cheap too!

Although a lot of the aspects are cheaper in terms of decor etc., the price of a Bali wedding still always ends up being a lot more than initially anticipated. Like anywhere in the world you pay for quality!

Read also: How to have the perfect Koh Samui beach wedding with Barbara Bowen of Baan Leelawadee

What are some things about weddings you wish were better known, whether by your clients, or guests?

The small details that are involved in planning a wedding! A lot of people don’t think about the finer details or understand how much involvement is in one particular job. Even something like suppliers being on time in Bali can sometimes be a (big) job in itself.

Do you have other tips for couples?

Always aim for a later ceremony to avoid the day time heat!

Your guests will thank you for it! We generally suggest our couples get married from 4 pm onwards. This also makes for great wedding photos over sunset.

Also, always try and avoid getting married during the rainy season. The weather can be extremely unpredictable in Bali, so it’s good to aim for those months in the middle of the year, which is the dry season.

Another tip for our wedding couples – Take a step back and soak in the moment. A good wedding planner is experienced in handling any obstacles that may be thrown their way on the day. So sit back, know that you are in good hands and enjoy every second of the day!

Wedding at Pantai Lima. Image Courtesy of Q Events

What are the benefits of having a wedding planner and how often should couples be in contact with their planner?

There are many benefits of a wedding planner, but the importance grows significantly when your wedding is in a foreign destination. A good Bali wedding planner will understand and know who to trust and rely on when it comes to the quality and service of the supplier.

The most significant advantage of a wedding planner is knowing you can relax on your special day as someone is managing and coordinating all aspects behind the scenes.

Once you have booked the venue and suppliers, you will likely have random questions that pop up, so I always tell the couples that we are only an email or message away. We’re always happy to provide support not just on the wedding day, but during all aspects of coming to Bali – be it hotel recommendations near your venue, nannies we love, who does the best spray tans and nails in Bali, etc.

How often couples should be in contact depends on many factors, like how familiar they are with Bali generally and a lot of other elements of the wedding. And this, of course, really changes from couple to couple.

Wedding planners send a timeline to clients once the couple has paid their first deposit so they can rest easy and feel mentally prepared knowing when we need every last detail confirmed along the journey, and will prompt every step of the way.

As a planner, you’ll have seen a lot of things both in the lead-up to and during the event. What are some of the most interesting requests or weddings, you’ve seen?

Good question! No two weddings are the same, and that is why I love doing what we do – it keeps things interesting and means there is never a dull moment one way or another.

Different nationalities and religions I find super fun as each wedding has its own traditions. For example, Spanish brides have a tradition where they pass the bouquet to their best friend rather than having the symbolic bouquet toss. Then, Chinese couples are required to do a tea ceremony before the traditional western ceremony. One of my favourites is that, in Ukrainian tradition, the groom must wash his new mother-in-law’s feet with Vodka!

The most memorable (for the wrong reasons) situation I saw was when a bride and groom got into an alcohol-fueled argument. The bride, out of rage, threw her rings into the garden. I had to chase her down the road to speak with her and put my councillor hat on. That is probably the craziest thing that’s happened at a wedding to date. However, I am pleased to confirm the couple made up and are still together today!

To learn more about Jessica, check out the Q Events website here.

And if you’re looking for a Bali wedding venue, click here to discover some of The Luxe Nomad’s most beautiful Bali villas!

Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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