28 February 2014, by Tan Li Lin
Our Bali wedding prep is underway!
I’m now in Bali, Seminyak riding off free Wifi to upload these gorgeous photos to share with you. I’m quite thrilled at this first – and possibly the last unless I become filthy rich – trip dedicated to Villa hunting. Our wedding is due in September. The wedding woes already began a month ago in terms of planning finances and the guest list but I’m thankful that Ronald and I agree on things pretty fast. After preliminary research, we’ve fixed our budget, invite list, and all ready to start rollin’.
Prep stage (Jan – Feb 2014)
Wedding organizers – I emailed 8, of which 4 replied. One of ’em doesn’t do weddings less than USD10k and another replied only the day before we were leaving for Bali (bye bye inefficient people), which left us with 2 options – Bali Wedding Services & Batik Bali Wedding. Both organizers worked within our budget and were very prompt with their email responses. They were both locals, which was inevitable because it appears Caucasian organizers only bother if coins drop out of your mouth when you talk. We scheduled to meet them both on our trip here to iron out final proposals and decide whom we were more comfortable working with.
Villas – We opted for privately owned villas instead of commercial ones like Ayana and Alila because of the significant difference in costs. Instead of paying US600+/night for a villa for TWO, we get a whole villa to ourselves AND our family (8 ADULTS) for US1k++. And that includes a driver, car, chef and breakfast! Some of these private villas have equally beautiful furnishing, landscaping and views, with servants to wait on you. The choice was obvious. I scanned through all the villas I could find online with an ocean view, and shortlisted 5 which I then contacted for rates and a visit.
Catering – Typically handled by the wedding organizer, caterers provide various food options and menus to choose from. Needless to say, getting an external caterer is cheaper than those which come with your (commercial) villa package. Most of them have reputations and work closely with the organizer, so it is highly likely they are just as reliable. We went ahead with the 2 caterers that our organizers recommended, and arranged for a food tasting.
Bali Trip Day 1 (27th Feb 2014)
11am – Head from Clio Apartments in Seminyak to Canngu (pronounced “CHANggu”). Grab a quick breakfast at the nearby Italian cafe before visiting Villa Sankara. Here is the party space:
I’d image it’ll look so lovely with fairy lights draped from tree to tree!
Unfortunately, this ended up low on the priority list due to the unspectacular view of the beach and a longkang that you can only view from the Jacuzzi you can’t see from here. Despite the super-friendly villa manager and the mega 40% discount offered (due to construction next door), we decided this wasn’t what we had in mind.
1pm – Food Tasting with Gurih Catering, at Batik Bali Wedding organizer’s office in Canggu.
We drove up and down along the street for 30 minutes before locating them (You can’t rely on maps which usually only lists famous villas and hotels. For everything else, just get the main road name and drive really slowly while looking for inconspicuous unit numbers. If really lost, call their office for help).
This was the food we chose for tasting.
Food wasn’t too bad, what’s better is that they served up Ribs (popular caterers tend to be Halal)
3pm – Down to Jimbaran to meet the other wedding organizer.
4pm – Head to Villa Karang Kembar 3 in Uluwatu. Car breaks down on the slope up. Luckily the villa sales agents were in an accompanying car so we hitch a ride while our driver got a replacement. Because most of these cliff-view villas are in hard-to-navigate locations, we found out that it is smarter and faster to call the villa to send a staff down to meet us at a nearby town and then lead us to the villa.
This amazing view greeted us. The sounds of the ocean sent us straight into daydreaming.
Of course, what’s not in this photo (nor those online) is the mega cliff that takes up the other 2/3 of the view, defaced and ugly while waiting to be built on. Still, this view is breath-taking, and earned it’s place up as first priority.
6pm – Cut through the horrendous Denpasar jam to Red Gardenia to run through decor samples.
7pm – Run off towards the sunset… beach where Amazing Bali Catering is waiting for us. Food tasting again. Note to self: Never schedule 2 food tastings in a day.
Mock decor set up by Batik Bali Weddings to accompany our food tasting.
Here’s the food we chose.
The Chef served us Canapes on top of that. All portions are actual size, so needless to say we were stuffed by the end of the evening and too saturated to discuss wedding details any further.
10pm – Back to Clio Apartments to prep for Day 2, reply emails, run through more villa recommendations we picked up and then, zzz….
Bali Trip Day 2 (28th Feb 2014)
9am – Wake up to squealing kid next door. ARGGHHH. Have. Enough. At. Home. Already.
10am – Driver picks us up (drivers + air-conditioned car costs only $35/day) and we drive to Canggu again. There’s time to squeeze in a champion’s breakfast at Old Man’s before heading to The Shore.
Poached Eggs on Sourbread Toast – all for S$2!
Beautiful gardens and a pool that runs through the house!
11am – Off we go back down to the South to Uluwatu again to visit Villa Banyu Biru. 1hr+ drive… but check out the view!
Now we’re talkin’!
Just absolutely charming. Makes the drive through bumpy roads all worth it. This is exactly what we have in mind for our wedding5 🙂 After some quick snaps, we had to run off to Candi Dasa – all the way on the East coast of Bali.
5pm – After a looonnnnggggg 2.5hr drive we finally reach Villa Asada, after a refreshing drive through lush forests and padi field kampongs.
Villa Asada, in my opinion, is the most tastefully done villa. The furnishing and landscaping is really impressive, and the view of sun rays on the mountains is breath-taking.
5.20pm – We’re done with all 5 villas, and we scoot back to Seminyak to end our day with some much-deserved dinner at Sarong. By the end of it all, we’re exhausted. To think I even considered driving by ourselves! 2 days zipped right past us, I vaguely recalled just landing not too long ago all excited at the idea of villa hopping!
Almost immediately, we pretty much know which villa we want, even though all 5 villas are impressive in their own way.
I’ve realized that:
(i) Knowing our key requirements are utmost important. Each villa has its pros and cons, but it becomes easier to decide when we keep focusing on our objectives.
(ii) Secondly, the right villa triggers off one’s imagination – I could almost see the wedding unfolding in my mind!
(iii) Thirdly, unless you have a big, big budget to blow, you’ll never get ‘the best’ because it can keep getting better – and it is tempting – but I think we found what’s best for our budget, and I’ll be simply happy with that 🙂
What’s next now is for us to decide on our preferred villa. Once we have our villa, our wedding organizer can then confirm the decor, catering and the final proposal. Firming things up feels a tad scary… and exciting; but I guess that’s a good feeling!