A favourite amongst holiday-makers and sun-lovers, Bali has recently undergone a romantic renaissance, with five star restaurants, purpose built chapels and some of the most beautiful scenery you'll find anywhere in the Asia Pacific. It's time to rediscover the delights and hidden secrets of the original island paradise.
Just a short inexpensive flight from Australia lies the original island paradise of Bali. Located along the sprawling Indonesian archipelago - a stretch of islands more than 5000 kilometres from end-to-end - between Java and Lombok and bordered on all sides by crystalline waters, Bali has long been a favourite among holiday-makers for its temperate climate, lush tropical forests and soft sandy beaches. It proudly bears the badge of Indonesia's largest tourist destination.
Recently though, couples questing for a unique approach to their wedding celebrations have been seeking out hidden villas, dramatic cliff tops and charming purpose-built chapels and opting for island-influenced festivities for their nuptials, prompting an upsurge in quality local wedding services and venues. And it's not just the larger resorts offering wedding packages, you'll find smaller, more boutique establishments are eager to host your celebration too. No matter what you're planning, you'll be delighted to find that Bali can deliver it.
Bali is perfectly situated just 8 degrees south of the equator - giving it a tropical climate ideal for weddings at any time of year. Bali's central mountains include several over 2,000 metres high, the largest of which is Mount Agung (also known as Mother Mountain) an active volcano. The island is also surrounded by spectacular coral reefs, ideal for snorkelling and diving. Bali's southern beaches are white sand, while the northern and western beaches have the coarser volcanic black sand of other volcanic islands like Hawaii.
Pleasant day temperatures of 20 - 33 degrees are typical and the sun shines throughout the year. Although the rainy season occurs from October to March, bringing showers and high humidity, (remember to choose your attire and hairstyle accordingly if you're booking a wedding during these months) uniquely even when it rains in the mountainous regions you can still enjoy clear days near the ocean. When it does decide to rain, it rarely lasts long and then you're greeted by the shimmering blue sky once again. June to September is the driest season, with lower humidity and cooler mornings and evenings.
Sea temperatures vary from about 26C in September to 30C in early May, year-round warm temperatures mean the ocean is always perfect for swimming, surfing and all water sports.
Recently awarded "Best Island" by New York's prestigious Travel+Leisure Magazine, Bali is known historically as The Island of the Gods, because of more than 20,000 temples and shrines spread across the small island. Balinese culture has been strongly influenced by Chinese and Indian cultures, particularly Hindu, with the majority of Bali's population adhering to Balinese Hinduism, an amalgam of gods and demigods, ancestral spirits, indigenous agricultural deities and sacred places.
A uniquely spiritual place, Bali offers a pervading air of romance and magic for couples wishing to wed there. The island's soul is one of beauty, love, peace and hope. The locals are generous and respectful, thoughtful and attentive as well as enthusiastic, positive and sunny - much like their climate! It's not unusual to be greeted with a broad smile and a genuine "welcome to beautiful Bali!" during your stay.
The warm island air is aromatic and fresh, the heady scent of incense rising from the altars and their daily ceremonial offerings of fruit and flowers. The "buzz of Bali" will hit you from the moment you arrive: there's an amazing sense of energy and purpose. The chaotic traffic and overloaded motorbikes and scooters might give you pause for a moment, but relax, you're in Bali and it works for them! It's just another part of the Bali buzz. And it's this incredible energy, positivity and romance that keeps people flocking to the island paradise for their wedding celebrations.
Whether you desire a barefoot, sundrenched beach-inspired ceremony, a traditional Christian affair in a church with a sophisticated gown and full floral arrangements, a lavish outdoor garden celebration that takes advantage of the lush flowers and beautiful native flora, or even a traditional Balinese blessing ceremony followed by a sumptuous Balinese feast, you'll find that venues will be pleased to help you plan your dream day.
What you'll need
To enter Bali
Australians travelling to Bali are eligible for a seven-day or 30-day visa on arrival, for a fee of $25US. These visas are non-transferable and non-extendable. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from your intended date of departure and must have at least two blank pages. You must also be in possession of an onward bound or return ticket. Procedures in Bali, Lombok and Indonesia can change without given notice, for up-to-date information contact the nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate in your country.
To get married in Bali
To get married in Bali, Australian citizens will need to obtain a Certificate of No Impediment from the Australian Consulate-General in Bali. You must apply in person after arriving and the certificate will usually be issued on-the-spot for a fee of $110.00 AUD (to be paid in Rupiah, in cash) at the time of application. You will need to show your original passport, a certificate of divorce or your former spouse's death certificate if you have previously been married. You'll need to sign a statutory declaration regarding your marital status. You must also be able to provide the following documentation:
- Completed booking application form
- Photocopy of the details page of your passports
- Photocopy of both your birth certificates
- Photocopy of divorce or death certificate (if previously married)
- Six photographs approximately passport-sized (i.e. 6cm x 4cm) showing both the bride and groom together, taken landscape, of head and shoulders only and looking straight ahead. The groom must wear a collar and sleeves and the bride must cover her shoulders for these photographs.
- Two witnesses over 18 years of age who are not direct blood relatives (i.e. brother, sister, parents.)
- Photocopy of the details pages of both of your witnesses' passports
- Certificate of No Impediment from the Consulate in Bali
While you're there
One of the advantages of booking a destination wedding is the opportunity to experience another country and culture, so don't forget to schedule in some time for exploration! Bali is the perfect symbol of harmony, the Island of the Gods offers a beautiful blend of culture, religion, art and culinary fascinations. Take a scenic drive to the mountains and visit Bali's art centre of Ubud - where they shot "Eat, Pray, Love" starring Julia Roberts. Balinese artisans are well-known for their skill and beautiful techniques, particularly in wood and stone carvings, painted art, fabric dying and silverware. Make a beeline for art and craft festivals to experience traditional Balinese drama, dance and music. While you're there, don't miss out on a visit to the famous Monkey Forest, which is just what it sounds like - a forest full of monkeys... they'll climb all over you and may well relieve you of some of your belongings, but there's something incredibly exotic and unique about being surrounded by these beautiful, friendly, human-like animals.
Indulge yourself in a day at Jimbaran Bay, a beautiful beach in Bali and experience the fresh, luscious fruit and seafood on offer. Dig your feet into the soft white sand and let their roving waiters serve you as you kick back, relax and enjoy a cold Bintang. For shopping, the trendy Seminyak district is ideal. Local designers and artisans are plenty, as are department stores, international designers and high street stores. You'll find some of the best boutiques in Jalan Laksmana and Jalan Kunti. You can also enjoy horseback riding along Seminyak beach and then stop in
for a drink at the famous KU DE TA, one
of Seminyak's hotspots.
If you're into watersports, head for the idyllic Uluwatu and Dreamland beaches for surfing, snorkelling and swimming. For the more adventurous, Nusa Dua offers adrenaline-charged jet skiing and parasailing. Or dive in and see the marine life in Tulamben on the eastern part of the island. Locals also suggest that if you're looking for a great tour of the island, hire a driver and transport. Chauffeured four wheel drive tours of the island are easy to come by and not expensive. Other not-to-be-missed activities include: cycling across the rice fields and through local villages, indulging in sumptuous local cuisine and strolling through the markets on the beach for a souvenir of your stay. Bali's nightlife is second-to-none, so enjoy yourself and party up a storm at one of the many stylish clubs and bars on offer in Ubud, Seminyak and don't forget Kuta. The wide variety of venues is incredible, from luxury wine and liqueur bars to chic dance clubs, to more relaxed out-of-the-way local pubs. You'll also find that your resort will be able to suggest activities that are central to where you're staying.
While it's important to pack as much as possible into your getaway, make sure you put aside some time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Bali is simply brimming with luxurious day spas that offer treatments like massage, specialist wraps, facials, manicures and pedicures; stop at a restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine with your new husband as you watch the sunset over the Indian ocean and why not indulge in a few well-worn island clichés: stroll hand-in-hand along the beach, enjoy a cocktail served in a coconut or a pineapple and pop a frangipani behind your ear!
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
Current exchange rate: 10760.38 IDR to 1.00 AUD
Official languages: Indonesian (although Balinese and English are also widely spoken)
Population: 3,890, 757
At time of publishing.