Planning a Destination Wedding…What We’d Do Differently

by Darcie
Bali wedding | The Realationship Project

ICYMI, Logan and I got married last fall in Bali. We had the most amazing experience – from the wedding villa, to the food, to the adventuring around the island, and, of course, to spending time with our friends and family who traveled all that way for us. It was beyond our wildest dreams. I watch our wedding video often and still can’t believe it was real.

During the planning process, I put together a post on our tips for planning a destination wedding. Now, I want to follow that post up with one about what we’d do differently now that the wedding is over!

Choose a destination that’s meaningful.

I still 100 percent agree with this one. It was soooo cool for me to show Logan and our friends and family around Bali. We got so many comments about how Bali is such a special place, and it meant so much to everyone to see this place that’s so meaningful to me.

Hire a local wedding planner.

1000000 percent do this. Ours was absolutely amazing. If anything went wrong on the wedding day, I didn’t hear about it. Everything was taken care of, and I didn’t have to stress about ONE thing.

I did have some stress pre-wedding, which I talk about below. This was a lesson to me to have the wedding planner handle 100 percent, not just 99 percent.

Consider getting an accommodation agent.

I’d definitely still consider this, but I don’t think it’s a must. While we had one for our guests, I don’t think anyone used her because it’s so easy to book a place through Airbnb.

However, I do think this could be really helpful if you have older guests who aren’t comfortable booking on their own. That wasn’t the case for us, so it wasn’t the most necessary.

Also, we had a small wedding, so most of the guests stayed with us at the wedding villa. For a larger wedding, I think this would be really helpful. The bride and groom tend to be bombarded with questions about accommodations, so it’s convenient to be able to refer them to someone else, even if they don’t end up using that person. It takes the load off of you which I was all about.

When you’re planning a wedding, you have enough things to worry about! This ensures that you have one less task on your to-do list.

Be okay with not having total control.

I still agree with this one.  As I wrote in my initial post on this topic, we didn’t see our wedding venue ahead of time. Fortunately, it was an amazing spot, but we relied on photos (which can easily be deceiving) and our wedding planner’s judgment (whom we hadn’t met yet either).

If you are a control freak, you might really struggle with a destination wedding because it’s impossible to have your hands in everything. You just have to trust your wedding planner.

Go there at least once before the wedding.

Absolutely. This is a must. Even though the wedding venue was already booked, my mom and I were able to tour it when we visited about 8 months before the wedding. As a result, it was much easier for us to be able to know where we wanted to have the ceremony and which rooms we would give to each guest.

We also tasted the wedding food, did hair and make-up trials, checked out nearby restaurants, and just generally got the lay of the land.

Plan events other than the wedding.

Definitely. We have the BEST time with our friends and family touring around Bali. I plan to do a post sharing our wedding week schedule. All of our guests had the option to participate in whatever activities they wanted. There was no pressure, just the option.

Everyone who did them raved about how awesome it was to get to know those people they hadn’t previously met and explore Bali without the stress of having to plan the logistics.

It made spending time with everyone so easy, and now, looking back, it’s so special to have those memories of us all together. Can’t recommend this enough.

Create your wedding website.

Agree with this one, but keep in mind that you’ll still get lots of questions. I’d hoped that having a website would make things a lot easier on me because guests would check the website before asking me questions. Not the case, though. I fielded SO many questions about details that I had already posted answers to the website. It was definitely frustrating at times.

Still, it’s absolutely necessary to have one. It was a central place to track RSVPs which was especially helpful given that we needed replies not just for the wedding itself and the dinner, but also the activities that went on all week long.

Bring your own photographer.

I have mixed feelings about this one, but would probably disagree with this one now looking back. I will say that I am confident that there are a ton of amazing travel photographers who would have been there. Our was flaky and we’d gotten hints of this throughout our time working with her, but we’d hoped she would come through in the end.

Spoiler alert: she did not.

It was incredibly stressful that only 5 days before the wedding, we were (I was…) scrambling to find another photographer. I really wanted one that I knew and was comfortable with, and photos matter so much to me. Hence, why we hired a photographer who would take our engagement AND wedding photos.

Fortunately, I found an incredible local photographer, but I lost a lot of sleep and ended up getting sick. It was awful. And, at the same time, I was trying to get some of our money back from this photographer who went MIA after TEXTING ME that she wasn’t going to make it.

As I mentioned above, I highly recommend a wedding planner. If we’d booked the photographer through the wedding planner, she would have dealt with this. This was the only stressful thing that happened before the wedding and I had to deal with it because I had booked the photographer.

If you do hire a local photographer, I’d recommend doing an “adventure” shoot before the wedding. Logan and I did one with our replacement wedding photographer, which was amazing, because we got to know him before the wedding. Originally this was the reason why I wanted to bring a photographer with us, but just doing the adventure shoot ahead of time would have solved that.

Another benefit to having a local photographer is that they know the best spots for shooting. Ours was born and raised in Bali, so he knew some amazing spots for our adventure shoot and did scouting to find the rice field where we took photos post-ceremony.

Of course a travel photographer can do that research, but I think you’ll typically find the best spots when you use a local.

Consider not having a DJ.

Like all of these things, this is a really personal decision, but here’s why I wouldn’t have a DJ if I were to do it all over again.

In Bali, the DJs don’t do any MCing like they do in the US. That means that the DJ only played music. We had to have a wedding guest announce the entrance of the bridal party, cake cutting, speeches, first dances, and the closing at the end of the night. If I’d known this ahead of time, I wouldn’t had hired a DJ.

Also, I was very disappointed with our DJ. We chose one based on the recommendation of our wedding planner and filled out a music preferences sheet ahead of time. Yet, only days before the wedding, we heard from our planner that the DJ didn’t feel like he could deliver the kind of music we were asking for (synth pop). However, he recommended another DJ whom he felt would be a better fit.

Unfortunately, the replacement DJ did not deliver. He didn’t play any music based on our preferences, and eventually, after Logan asked him several times to stick to the style of music we’d requested, I had to ask the wedding planner to have him literally just play the sample playlist we’d prepared of examples of music style we wanted. We could have just plugged in my phone and disregarded the DJ altogether!

So, if you’re considering having DJ, which is a totally normal thing to consider, be sure to check if the DJ will do any MCing and confirm that the DJ can play your music preferences. I was shocked that a DJ would agree to work a wedding without knowing that he could deliver the couple’s style preference…but apparently they do.

So that’s a wrap on what we’d do differently. Overall, it wasn’t much!

If you have any questions about our process at all, feel free to send us a message!

Featured photo by Suta Rahady

 

 

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