Katie Truman checks out a quiver of five-star bolt holes offering slick wedding events to cater to your wildest whims.
HOTEL TUGU BALI
Canggu presents another wild beach destination, with boutique Hotel Tugu: boho-chic, evocative and studded with Indonesian antiquities, this internationally-acclaimed resort presents a living-breathing museum preserving and celebrating Javanese and Balinese art, cultural heritage and traditions – with lashings of romance.
All permeating through to gorgeous weddings hosted here. Tugu’s experienced wedding planners ably handle all the nitty-gritty, from permits to menu design, traditional blessings to dreamy western all-white affairs, plus vow renewals, legal marriages, multi-faith or spiritually-inclined ceremonies.
Whatever, Tugu offers three heaven-sent ceremonial spots: beachfront lawns beside crashing surf (maximum 350 guests standing), Barong Gardens, within the resorts’ lovely tropical grounds (maximum 100) and Bale Agung, an impressive high-ceilinged lobby hall (maximum 250).
Couples can create bespoke ceremonies, or opt for a la carte-style packages, for personalized adaptations, like the Heavenly Sunset Wedding Package (from USD2,150++) with marriage celebrant and two-night stay at one of Tugu’s rustic-inclined suites. Tugu’s signature is exquisite indigenous detail, from village-style floral arrangements (think island coco palms and tropical flowers, braided into ceremonial arches) to traditional Royal Javanese Keraton settings and colourful Balinese Hindu ceremonies (if you must, book the royal horse-drawn carriage).
Open-air receptions feature beachside full moon BBQ dinners, dancing barefoot to DJs in lantern-lit gardens, or indoors, within historically-themed dining chambers; the highlight, red-themed Bale Sutra, housing a 1706 Kang Xi-era Chinese family temple shipped-in from Java.
These atmospheric-charged chambers offer a unique Cultural Dining Series with set wedding menus, fusing local gourmet delicacies with culture-rich, ceremonial rituals. Delicious treats laid-on for honeymooners include seven-course Aphrodisiac Picnic in Bed, feasting on an ornate 18th-century Javanese bed beside the beach, and Gemulai Penari, with eight hours of bathing rituals, body treatments and gourmet nibbles at Tugu’s acclaimed spa. Puri Le Mayeur, a vintage villa elevated above a lotus pond and romantic tribute to this Belgian artist’s love affair with a Balinese dancer, delivers the ultimate love-nest. www.tuguhotels.com
Like many Uluwatu resorts, perched atop sheer cliff-tops in southern Bukit, views from Anantara Uluwatu are gobsmacking, looking out over the Indian Ocean’s endless rolling surf (next stop, Australia). A spectacular spot for a wedding and here, Anantara, tiered down limestone cliffs, delivers its trump card with cliff-edge Dewa Dewi Chapel.
Ultra-contemporary yet oozing elegance, this dedicated wedding venue comes glass-encased and set over water features to maximize the ocean-blurs-with-sky views – at sunset, aglow with floating candles – divine for ceremonies with a maximum 50 guests. Non-legal wedding packages (from IDR 7.5m++) – legally binding weddings cost extra – include a wedding blessing ceremony, English-speaking celebrant, two-night stay at a Ocean View Suite and bespoke Dine by Design a deux.
For the height of luxury (literally), splash your cash on the Dewata Penthouse Wedding Package (from USD4,999), inclusive of full wedding ceremony and two-night stay at a duplex style, two-bedroom penthouse, indulging honeymooners with high-tech gadgets and ultra-private pool with sun deck. Anantara’s wedding organizers can assist with tailor-made options and additional services.
Snap your first newlywed photos down on ‘Impossible Beach’ accessed via private inclinator to the cliff base. In-house venues for cocktail soirees and receptions include signature 360 Rooftop Restaurant, with sit-down dinners catering for around 150 guests and all-encompassing Indian Ocean views.
Tailored honeymoon packages are also available in spacious suites and private pool villas, all ocean-facing with generous-sized balcony Jacuzzi tubs – an edgy start to just-married life. www.bali-uluwatu.anantara.com
ALILA VILLAS SOORI
In a galaxy far, far away – well, Tabanan, on Bali’s less chartered west coast – environmentally committed Alila Villas Soori magically blends with its tropical beachfront setting: volcanic black-sand beach, surrounded by UNESCO World Heritage-protected rice terraces and distant Mount Batukaru.
If you seek a wilder, practically deserted beach for your wedding, but demand the sophisticated comforts expected from ultra-luxurious Alila resorts, read on. Alila Villas Soori‘s in-house wedding concierge offer both bespoke arrangements or wedding packages, from intimate to full-scale productions or simple blessings, organizing everything from rehearsal dinners to honeymoons.
Wedding service options include tailor-made menus, from canapés to barbecues, created by Executive Chef Fernando Trump, for indoor or outdoor receptions and entertainment must-haves, including fireworks and dove releases. Wedding venues cover Soori Estate (maximum 60 guests), a magnificent 10-bedroom villa complete with a floating pool stage; beachfront Sunset Lawn, heaven-sent for sunset weddings and reception dinners and Cliff Lawn, doubling-up as the helipad, with stunning peninsula backdrop. Wedding packages incorporating these venues include a dedicated wedding assistant, marriage celebrant and two-night stay at one of their 48 ultra-spacious pool villas.
Full legal weddings, be it Buddhist, Christian, Protestant or Muslim, can be arranged at extra cost (from USD 1,100++), while Balinese Wedding Blessings, with a local Hindu priest and full indigenous traditions, start from USD 1,600++. Soori’s wildly beautiful backdrop offers one-upmanship photo opportunities (a two-night pre-wedding photo tour package, or a la carte video options are available), while the contemporary Asian villas come designed to maximize the lush West Bali landscape views (but still maintaining utmost privacy).
A Honeymoon two-night stay package throws in a 15-minute aerial helicopter tour. Still can’t decide? Soori offers a night’s stay for couples to inspect the resort and if they book a wedding here, the night’s accommodation expenses are deducted from the wedding bill. Sweet.
Ubud can’t provide any fabulous beach backdrops, however it does present more bucolic splendour than you can shake a (bamboo) stick at and is one of Bali’s more traditional destinations for local Hindu rituals, culture and spirituality.
Dotted across this highland town, the family-owned Komaneka group presents four upscale boutique hotels, infused with high-end Indonesian art and heritage. Each can host small-scale weddings, expertly supported by in-house wedding organizers arranging all the logistics and services, be it flowers, cake, kecak monkey dances, or tedious pre-wedding paperwork.
Besides two wedding packages, plus F&B and photographic packages, couples can design their own weddings, whether it’s a commitment celebration, a rite according to faith, non-religious exchange of vows, or legally-binding ceremony.
Secluded in five hectares of tropical rainforest, yet a quick saunter from central Ubud, signature wedding venue Komaneka at Bisma offers two nuptial spots. Non-denominational Wanaswara Wedding Chapel, overlooking the Campuhan river gorge and constructed Torajan-style from timber and glass, accommodates 48 guests and comes with a dedicated Suite for pre-wedding preparations.
Formerly rice terraces and now manicured lawns shaded by coconut trees, Garden Grove is lovely for small, late afternoon ceremonies, with receptions hosted at the lower lap pool on a specially decorated deck. Other facilities run to an open-air Roof Terrace, fab for cocktail receptions, Terrace Restaurant for wedding banquets and an open-air mini-amphitheatre and stage for post-wedding shin-digs.
An elevated sanctuary set amidst tropical fruit trees, Komaneka at Tanggayuda boasts the largest venue, Batukaru Twilight Terrace, a rooftop deck for maximum 50 guests, open-air with awesome river valley and volcano vistas; receptions are hosted in the restaurant below. Komaneka wedding packages are available, but just-married’s should splurge on Bisma’s super-luxe, Masterpiece Bisma Residence, a three-bedroom pool villa camouflaged amongst the tree tops – quite the cool first home!
MANDAPA, A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE
Secluded in rain forested hills, this boutique gem spectacularly tumbles down a ravine to the Ayung River, but is still utterly refined with off-the-charts service. Well, what did you expect from a Ritz-Carlton property, or namely, Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the world’s third in the prestigious Reserve portfolio.
Designed as a private sanctuary to relax one’s mind, body and soul, Mandapa offers guests a full immersion into Ubud’s native culture and nature, evoking traditional Balinese village life – working rice paddies dominate centre stage – albeit holed-up at sumptuous 35 suites and 25 private pool villas, with the 24-hour services of a patih (personal assistant to Balinese royals). In short, a gorgeous setting for a destination wedding; so get those nice Ritz-Carlton ladies and gentlemen on to it.
Dedicated wedding planners can organize bespoke weddings or lavish wedding packages (from IDR39,000,000++) catering to around 30 attendees (additional charge for extra guests, maximum 80). Signature Mandapa Balinese Wedding offers an authentic local experience, officiated by a Hindu priest, while Mandapa White Wedding offers a more Western-orientated approach with wedding celebrant.
Nuptials are hosted on lawns beside the rice terraces, along the Ayung riverbanks, or at Mandapa’s uppermost levels, either in front of a temple at the Kul Kul Tower or at the Wantilan welcome pavillion. For ultimate privacy, get hitched at the two-bedroom Reserve Villa or three-bedroom Mandapa Villa (a whopping 2,000-square-metres), with intimate ceremonies held in riverside gardens on a wooden deck, followed by poolside cocktail soirees.
Customized receptions incorporate specially crafted menus from Executive Chef, Maurizio Bombini. Making it legal comes at additional cost, as does booking-up the entire Reserve, all yours for a four-day, three-night package, accommodating up to 120 guests, including helicopter transfers from the airport. Continue the high-life, reserving a honeymoon package.
COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE
From the prestigious COMO group, multi-award winning COMO Shambhala Estate is best known as one of the world’s first full-service residential holistic health and spa retreats. Focusing on 360-degree holistic wellness and long-term healing and lifestyle changes, every aspect here – from accommodation to cuisine – contributes to wellness.
Weddings however can also be held here; not so surprising, given its restorative and secluded setting, elevated high above the Ayung River gorge in Ubud’s hills, with luxurious facilities and 30 rustic-Indonesian accommodations built in jungle clearings, plus water-tight privacy (you need a good excuse to enter the 10-hectare estate) and exceptional service that attracts A-List celebs.
COMO’s wedding organizers offer personalized yet unobtrusive assistance, whether it’s for bridal hair and make-up or masked fire dancers and expertise on anything from Indonesia’s legal protocol to meticulous floral arrangements. Weddings (commitment ceremonies, traditional Balinese, western-style and more), are incorporated in non-legal wedding packages with English-speaking celebrant; bespoke weddings are possible, including legal marriages, but must include Estate accommodation reservations, while receptions are tailor-made to suit couples’ whims.
Weddings at Residence package (from USD5,800++) is hosted for around 20 attendees at one of their five grandiose Residences, each boasting four to five suites, expansive semi-open living-dining areas and massive pool. The Water Gardens, accessed 250-plus stone steps down to the jungle-engulfed riverbanks, presents an ultra-secluded, miniscule ceremonial spot beside sacred spring-fed pools. For large weddings (100-plus guests), the Amphitheatre and Parkland amply suffices, but you’ll have to book-up the entire estate at extra cost. If money is no object (and it wouldn’t be, getting hitched here) that shouldn’t be a problem. www.comohotels.com/comoshambhalaestate