On 15th June 2019 we exchanged our personal vows on a gorgeous beach in Bali, and officially became Mr. & Mrs. Reading.
We always knew that if we got married it would be a destination wedding. We love travel so much and had spent most of our relationship travelling together, so it would only make sense to have our dream wedding in an exotic location, if you want to plan your wedding in a place like this, then I totally recommend checking out the Cayman Islands.
Bali has always been a special place for us. In 2016 we had to endure 3 long months apart on opposite sides of the world due to visa complications, and since we couldn’t wait any longer we met up in Bali for a further 3 months together while waiting for Will’s Australian visa to come through. The Island Of Gods soon became our home away from home.
It was apparent early on that Bali would be the perfect place to get married. At first I was more keen on eloping and it being more about just the two of us, and not bothering family with the expenses of flying to Bali. But I am SO glad we ended up deciding to have just our closest family there with a total of 9 guests. We are extremely grateful for all the effort they put in to be there, and it definitely would not have been the same without them. 💖
The plan was to get married in the middle of a holiday, and we did just that. We spent the first week on a family holiday exploring Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud, then got married in the luxurious Nusa Dua, and spent the following week honeymooning in Uluwatu.
The actual Wedding Day was absolutely magical, better than we ever imagined in our wildest dreams. It was literally like a fairytale.
I’m all about details, so I absolutely loved the whole planning process. Having a small guest list gave us a bigger budget to get the details right, and they could not have been more on point. From the handmade invitations linking to our wedding website, to the choreography of our first dance that we practiced for hours leading up to the day. We wanted our wedding to incorporate both English and Polish traditions to represent our families coming together as one. As well as a bit of Balinese culture to share with our guests, since none of them had ever been to Bali before. And everything turned out absolutely perfect.
Below are all of our favourite photos from the day, along with descriptions for all the details.
My engagement ring was custom made online by zoara.com where you can choose the ring setting (which I chose) then choose the exact diamond that goes in it (which Will chose). I wanted a simple white gold design with the shortest possible prongs so that it wouldn’t get in the way of daily tasks, with the biggest sparkliest diamond that Will could afford. 😉
I wanted my wedding ring to be as thin as possible for a simple look with tiny diamonds all the way around, and I found the PERFECT one online at James Allen. A website where you can also design your own engagement ring and I highly recommend them! All diamonds on both rings were sustainably sourced.
There was also a lot of thought put into Will’s wedding ring. He wanted a black ring for a modern style, that was smooth and simple but didn’t look like it was made from plastic. We did some research and decided to go with black zirconium, a fairly new type of metal used in men’s wedding rings. We liked how the colour can change depending on the temperature that it is heated at. We ended up choosing a ‘black zirconium two tone offset groove domed men’s wedding ring’ which I think was bought from wedding-rings.co.uk.
At first this ring was his “man-gagement” ring (a new popular trend among grooms) that he wore for over a year while we were engaged before deciding to keep it as the actual wedding ring. He took it off a month before the wedding to make it more special to put on again on the actual day.
I never wanted a big ballroom style wedding dress, it was always going to be a unique bohemian beach style that suited my personality. Where the white tulle layers would look amazing blowing in the sea breeze. Comfort was also a priority, especially since it would be hot in Bali. I started looking at modern beach wedding dress styles and immediately fell in love with the two-piece look!
I never understood why brides spend thousands on a dress they’d only wear once, and all the two-piece dresses I tried on were too expensive for them not to be exactly what I wanted. I always loved long skirts on other people but have never been able to pull them off myself, and I couldn’t find a skirt that was long at the back but short at the front. The ones with a slit didn’t suit me.
So my mum, who is very talented with her sewing skills, offered to make the skirt for me. She found a second hand high quality gown made out of the exact same material I wanted and cut the top off to make a wedding skirt. Then we played around with the layers and design together. It was a long process going back and forth while living on opposite sides of the country, but it was something we created together which made it very special to wear on the day.
I then went on to the search for the perfect bridal top that was short enough to show ‘a gap’ between the two pieces. Since it’s a fairly new wedding style it was extremely hard to find, as there are only 4 bridal stores in Australia that actually sell bridal tops. Only one had long sleeve bridal tops (not ideal for Bali) and the others were in Sydney but a bit too pricey, not sold separately, plus too far to travel to. I loved the two piece dresses from Grace Loves Lace on the Gold Coast but no matter how hard I pushed, they wouldn’t sell the tops separately.
Hours were spent searching online for second hand two-piece wedding dresses asking the owners if I could just buy the top but had no luck at all. Eventually I found a reseller of a bridal brand in Brisbane called Babushka Ballerina that were happy to sell their Match Made Bridal tops separately. I made an appointment and found ‘the one’ straight away! They custom made it to fit my cup size and cropped it by 1cm to add ‘a gap’ between the top and the dress, and I was so happy with the end result.
Hair & Make-Up
My hair and makeup was done by a professional company called Bali Hair & Make Up, the top rated wedding hair and make-up artists on the island. I didn’t want to compromise this part of the budget as I’ve had a bad hair and makeup experience before, so I chose to have peace of mind by booking in experts.
I was considering not having a hair and make-up trial beforehand to save money but I’m very glad I did a few days earlier, because it took a while to get my hairstyle right the first time. The day went so fast and I can honestly say I stayed present the whole time to savour every moment. I can’t imagine how distracted I would have been having to explain how I wanted my hair on the day.
Feeling comfortable and free was the priority, so I didn’t want to wear a traditional veil. Originally I thought of having a flower crown made out of my bridal flowers, though I couldn’t find anywhere in Bali that would make them fresh and deliver on the day. I had the half up, half down hair style in mind so when I found bridal hair vines it was the obvious choice as I could get them threaded into the braids. The hair vines I got were from a boutique online bridal store called Little White Couture. It is also where I got this personalised bridal robe with my new last name embroidered on the back and new initials on the front.
Bride’s Shoes & Accessories
I’m not generally a heels person, and even if we weren’t getting married on the beach I still don’t think I would have worn heels on my Wedding Day. Simply to feel comfortable being myself. Having both the ceremony and the reception dinner on the sand meant I could look for barefoot sandals, and I loved that idea. As I was seeking bridal hair vines I spotted the most gorgeous barefoot sandals that matched the hair vines almost identically. I got them from Forever Soles, along with a nude pair of bridal flats that I wore after the reception to the after party drinks back at the hotel.
Following the English tradition I did have “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” My ‘something old’ was the old wedding dress my mum had recreated into a fresh wedding skirt that I wore. My ‘something new’ was the bridal top from a bridal store. My something borrowed was diamond stud earrings borrowed from my sister-in-law. And my ‘something blue’ was a wedding garter with a blue ribbon (also an English tradition) from my mother-in-law.
As a finishing touch the perfume I wore was a Victoria Secret’s perfume that Will chose for me and had delivered to my hotel room as a wedding gift that morning.
The bridal flowers were an easy pick. My absolute favourite flowers; frangipanis. Out of curiosity I tried looking for florists in Australia that did frangipanis for weddings and couldn’t find one anywhere. And with there being copious amounts of frangipani trees throughout Bali it made it even more reassuring we had chosen the most ideal location. Our wedding planner organised a frangipani bouquet, as well as a matching frangipani boutonnière for Will.
For the table decoration they used the table linens, table settings will not be complete and leaving the room extremely empty. Make sure that you have your dream wedding with the sofistication you always hoppped for.
We chose a creamy beige colour for the groom to go with the casual beach style. Instead of a suit, Will chose to mix it up by wearing a waistcoat with matching trousers by Joe Black and a crisp white shirt underneath. We pondered the thought of him wearing a tie, light blue to go with the blue & yellow wedding colours. But at the same time we wanted the vibe to be relaxed and casual. Then we found a white shirt that fit him perfectly and actually had a bit of light blue on it. It complemented the outfit, and went well with the theme.
Will’s dad who was also the Best Man, decided to match this theme. Coincidently my dad planned on wearing the same colour waistcoat and trousers. In the end it naturally became the dress code for all the men.
We thought about Will going barefoot on the day as well, but he really wanted to wear shoes for the professional couples photo shoot. He ended up wearing boat shoes by Kenji during the ceremony and took them off for the reception.
Getting Ready & Father of the Bride’s First Look
We stuck to tradition to spend the night apart before the wedding, so that it would be more exciting to see each other at the altar. My mum joined me in our hotel room the night before while Will stayed with his parents. That way we’d be able to get ready in seperate rooms the next day.
I had my mum help me to get ready then left to catch the 4.30pm wedding van that took all the guests to the beach. My dad arrived to my hotel room to get his first look of his daughters dress.
Meanwhile the ceremony was set up ready to go at the Marriott Beach Club in Nusa Dua. When choosing a venue we first decided which part of the island we wanted to get married. It was out of Nusa Dua or Uluwatu on the Southern coast of Bali as that is where the nicest and, more importantly, cleanest beaches are. We considered private villas but wanted everything done for us so looked for 5 star hotels that offered wedding packages for small groups. Most places in Uluwatu offered weddings on a clifftop with gorgeous ocean views, but I wanted to actually be on the sand. There was one place we liked in Uluwatu on the beach, though their minimum package was for 30+ people.
We experienced the same thing with most venues in Nusa Dua that would only allow a small group if paying the price of a big group, which didn’t make sense. Eventually we found Courtyard Marriott and one other hotel in Nusa Dua that fit the budget. I didn’t get a good vibe with the other venue but when we got to the Marriott’s Beach Club it felt like ‘the one’ straight away. I loved how it was in a secluded area at the very end of Nusa Dua Beach, reserved specifically for the hotel guests. It had a bar, toilets and everything we needed.
Colour Scheme & Flower Combination
For the colour scheme we went with a blue, yellow and cream theme as they are the colours of the ocean, sand and frangipanis, and have always been our colours – even for The Brit & The Blonde website. The package we chose included blue peacock flowers, cream roses and we paid extra to have frangipanis added into the floral display.
The ‘Mr. & Mrs.’ letters were bought from Etsy.com and the chair signs were hand made by myself. We also had a sign reminding guests that this was an ‘unplugged wedding’ and to not have phones on them. There’d be nothing worse than having our professional photographer take photos of people taking amateur photos. Plus, we wanted everyone to be fully in the moment with us.
As guests started arriving we had a Balinese local play traditional Balinese Bamboo Rindik and incense burning to set the mood for a gorgeous evening. This, along with a Balinese Umbrella Boy and Balinese Flower Girls were that Balinese aspects that we incorporated into our wedding.
The guests we had at our wedding were only closest family and no friends, a rule we made to avoid any awkward conversations come up. All our friends understood this, and we had a big hens and bucks party a couple of weeks earlier to make up for it. On my side of the family I had my mum, dad, dad’s wife, my brother and sister-in-law. On Will’s side he had his mum, dad, aunty and uncle attend.
Once everyone had taken their assigned seats, the next wedding van arrived to drop off Will, his best man/dad and the Balinese Umbrella Boy.
Will walked down the aisle to “Oasis – Wonderwall” – which was only decided the night before and seemed relevant.
Two Balinese Flower Girls led the way to the start of the aisle, with The Umbrella Boy following closely behind. The Father of the Bride then embraced the English tradition by walking his daughter down the aisle.
This took place to the orchestral version of the tear-jerking “Cannon In D.”
Ceremony & Vows
The ceremony started with our wedding celebrant saying some nice words about love and marriage, which got us a little giddy and excited.
We then said our “I do’s” followed by our personal vows to each other.
We wanted both our mums and dads to have a role in our wedding. My mum was my Bridesmaid, my dad walked me down the aisle, Will’s dad was his Best Man, and so we gave Will’s mum the responsibility of looking after the rings as our Ring Bearer.
And before we knew it, it was time to kiss the Bride!
If you’ve never planned to get married outside of your home country, you’ve probably never considered whether a destination wedding is legally recognised. Why wouldn’t it be? We’ve seen so many photos of Bali weddings so didn’t even think about this until we started looking at venues stating in their packages that the ‘legal wedding’ was not included. What we didn’t realise is that in Bali (or anywhere in Indonesia), majority of the Bali weddings seen online are not actually legitimate.
An event planner can organise a beach ‘wedding celebration’ for you, though if there aren’t legal documents involved, you’re not technically married when you get home. For a marriage to be recognised in Australia you have to have a legitimate Marriage Certificate, and to get legally married in Indonesia it must be religious.
For us to get ‘legally’ married in Indonesia we would firstly have to be religious, and have proof of our Internationally recognised religion (for example a Certificate of Baptism for Christians, etc). It would also have to be in an actual place of worship for example a church, mosque or synagogue, etc. And unfortunately the beach does not count. Getting ‘legally’ married in Indonesia would completely defeat the purpose of getting married in Bali. Not to mention the high legal costs involved.
Our only other option, and it is the option most couples who plan on getting married in Bali do, was to get legally married in Australia before or after our Bali Wedding. We decided to get legally married at a registry office in Australia, with just two witnesses present, a week before flying to Bali for our dream beach wedding. We signed our legal Marriage Certificate in Australia and a souvenir certificate on our Wedding Day in Bali.
Once everything was signed the feel good Bruno Mars song “I Think I Want to Marry You,” came on and the newlyweds walked back down the aisle as husband and wife for a flower shower to end the ceremony.
It was then time to grab a drink from the pop up bar and have some family photos. This one with all the guests smiling is our favourite!
Will’s mum gifted me a horseshoe (another English tradition), which I had with me in all the family photos.
After the family photos we had about half an hour for all our couple photos on the beach before sunset.
During this time our families gathered around the beach having a few drinks while the venue staff prepared the area for the Reception dinner.
There are too many amazing photos to share from the shoot but the ones in this post are some of our favourites.
Since we wanted the photos and videos to be perfect, we needed to make sure we chose the best photographer for the day. We found that Western photographers living in Bali had excellent portfolios though were insanely expensive, especially considering we wanted videography as well. We also didn’t want to hire a cheap photographer that didn’t know what they were doing, or that didn’t have excellent English, and risk ending up with amateur wedding photos.
After a lot of research we decided to go with a local photographer that was recommend by The Marriott. Photos and videos were by Gung Arya Photography, and we are so happy with them.
He was a lot more affordable to hire than other photographers on the island. Yet him and his team are very talented and delivered exactly what we asked for. Taking into account all the fine details.
The moon also shone brightly that evening, just like it did the night we got engaged, which was an unexpected bonus.
Here’s a short video from the couples photoshoot…
Bride & Groom Reception Entrance
At approximately 6.30pm the same place the ceremony took place transformed into a reception dinner setting. All the guests took their assigned seats and waited for the Bride & Groom to arrive.
At Polish weddings it’s tradition for the Bride & Groom to throw their drinking glasses behind them to hear them smash (for good luck) as they enter the reception. However this was not practical on the beach. Instead, we walked in to the reception to the Polish song ‘Sto Lat’ that’s often sung at Polish weddings. This was the traditional Polish aspect we incorporated into the day, and lyrics to the song were printed and displayed on the dinner table so everyone could sing along.
Will did a short speech thanking everyone for being here with us, to which I also put in my two cents, and on that note the Wedding Reception had officially begun.
The guest’s place cards were hand made by myself and the “Bride & Groom” chair signs were custom made by someone on Etsy.com. The rest of the decorations including fairy lights were set up as part of the package with the venue.
As our guests were waiting for us to come back from our couples photo shoot they had the opportunity to sign our guest book. And since we only had 8 guests it didn’t make sense to have an actual book, so instead we bought a giant card and a polaroid camera so our guests could take a selfie to stick into the card with a message.
When putting together a playlist I realised a lot of the songs we wanted played over dinner didn’t fit the mood we were trying to create. I ended up finding many acoustic cover versions of love songs that we like and put them together to create a mellow yet romantic dinner playlist, followed by a more upbeat dance playlist for afterwards.
We also asked our guests to request songs they wanted to hear on the night so everyone felt included. Will’s mum very proudly requested Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and lucky for her it played very early on in the evening. With no cue and without hesitation she grabbed the mic and sang at the dinner table. A beautiful and unexpected moment from the Mother of the Groom that we will always remember.
We weren’t too fussed about the food so long as it was something our guests would eat. There were a few different cuisines to choose from as part of the wedding package with the venue and we went with the safe Western options. Our guests had a choice of two different menus that they had to decide on before the night.
Signature Set Menu. Appetiser: Seared Rare Beef Carpaccio, Pear-Rucola Salad, Spicey Plum Dressing, Soup: BBQ Duck & Lentil Soup, Main: Chermoula Salmon Fillet, BBQ Potato with Macadamia Nut, Green Pea Puree, Dessert: Lemon Tart, Caramelised Popcorn, Vanilla Ice Cream.
Gourmet Set Menu. Appetiser: Chilled Prawns with Orange, Tuna Tartar, White Bean Puree & Cumin Crisp, Soup: Gingered Pumpkin Soup, Vanilla Espuma, Main: Beef Tenderloin, Potato Fondant with Bacon, Carrot Ketchup, Mustard Jus, Dessert: Opera Cake, Cornflakes, Cookies & Vanilla Ice Cream.
Father of The Bride Speech
Soon after everyone had finished their first course, it was my dad’s time to shine for the traditional Father of The Bride Speech. He had spent a lot of time writing and translating it into English and I was so proud. It was also very funny reminiscing on embarrassing moments throughout my childhood. And ending with my favourite line… “it will be an honour for me to treat William like a son.”
After a couple more drinks, Will’s dad stole the show with an unplanned live performance singing Piano Man.
It was such a special performance, it even made Will tear up (which never happens). I’ve only seen him cry about 4 times in 6 years and this was one of them.
Later on in the night my dad requested for him to sing a very old yet appropriate song, ‘Sunrise Sunset from Fidler on the Roof‘ which was also very nice and memorable.
Our First Dance
I bet many women dream of the ‘first dance’ with their husband on their Wedding Day. The first time I had thought about it was in 2014 when Ed Sheeran released his song ‘Thinking Out Loud‘ and I’d watched the music video with the incredible couples dance. I was so inspired and thought “wow I’d love to do a choreographed dance at my wedding one day.”
The song ‘Perfect by Ed Sheeran‘ had just come out when we got engaged and since I am no doubt a hopeless romantic, it was obviously going to be our first dance song. No matter how lovey dovey or cheesey anyone thought it was.
It took A LOT of convincing for Will to accept the idea. Neither of us had done couples dance lessons before so it was going to be an entirely new experience, and I had promised him if we were bad we’d just do the lessons for fun and no-one would ever have to know. 😉
My plan worked, and we actually weren’t too bad. Thanks to our amazing dance teach Sarah from Sarah Elizabeth Dance School on the Gold Coast. She personalised the choreography to match our capabilities and the size of the dance floor, and taught us the whole dance in just 6 one hour lessons.
We made it very clear to our families that the wedding wasn’t going t be a ‘dance party’ and that it would just be a casual dinner with the family on the beach to celebrate our marriage. This was so that there would not be any expectation of a ‘first dance’ since we wanted to completely surprise our guests.
…and surprised they were, and in tears.
Best Man Speech
Will’s dad’s speech, started with a few Polish words, “Dzień dobry, cześć i witam. Dziękuje ze tu jesteś.” (Good evening, hello and welcome. Thank you for being here). His efforts were really appreciated by my family.
He went on to share hilarious dad jokes to embarrass Will, and some heartfelt words about us as a couple.
Bride’s Brother’s Speech
When it comes to anything to do with love I easily become a blubbery mess, but to my surprise I was so put together for most of my own Wedding Day. I think the excitement of everything was so intense, the euphoria I felt constantly throughout the day was an emotion far beyond happy tears.
But then my brother did a speech, and a flood of emotions hit me all at once.
Having an awkward 10 year age gap between us, meant my brother was almost like a father figure to me growing up. Especially throughout my rebellious teenage years. It was very emotional hearing him open up about how proud he was and to see his vulnerable side. It was a special moment.
As you know I’m someone who loves little details, and my gosh was I impressed with our wedding cake. The team at Ixora Cakes Bali went above and beyond with the details, much better than we had expected.
Cupcakes & Theme
A couple of years ago I saw the unique idea of cake tiers made out of cupcakes, and decided then if we ever got married we’d have cupcakes at our wedding. It was especially practical since we had a small guest list. Along with cupcakes we’d also need to have a small cake for the top tier so that we could still cut the cake together. I also requested for it to be decorated with a blue ribbon and fresh frangipanis to go with the wedding theme.
I came across a beach themed bride and groom cake topper on Pinterest and thought it looked very cool. Ixora Cakes said they could make an edible one on top of our wedding cake. Since they were making it from scratch I sent through photos of what we looked like and our outfits for the day.
Though, I did not expect for them to make the edible Bride & Groom look exactly like us. They even put glitter in my hair and feet, spiked up every one of Will’s hairs and also gave him a wedgy, which was such a laugh! It was true art and I highly recommend Ixora if you’re looking for professional cake bakers in Bali.
A few days prior we brought the Father and Mother in law on a day trip to the actual Ixora Cakes bakery to help us choose the flavours. We both loved the chocolate and it was a safe option because who doesn’t love chocolate? We also surprisingly found the raspberry flavour to be so tasty that we couldn’t stop eating it. In the end we went with chocolate cupcakes that everyone demolished, and a raspberry flavoured top tier, which we shared with the family the following day.
We’d ordered a dance floor for our first dance when we realised it was impossible to Waltz on the sand, but we did not at all expect for all our guests to want to dance.
Our families had never met before Bali and having such a small guest list we thought it may be a little awkward, especially with the cultural differences. But to our surprise it was quite the opposite!
It was particularly nice to see my mum come out of her shell and have a great time on the dance floor.
And all the men embracing their matching outfits.
The favourite songs of the night were “Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen,” “ABBA – Dancing Queen” and “Ed Sheeran – Shape of You.” These songs would have all been played at least three times throughout the night.
Our families got along so well it was quite overwhelming.
We were so full with love.
Sparklers Send Off
We wanted an unforgettable exit from the reception so we’d asked our event planner to organise sparklers for some epic photos. Though after too many mojitos I’d accidentally walked into the decorations and knocked everything over, which made for a very funny moment, and a great way to end the wedding.
“Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars.”
The wedding van took us all back to the hotel where some of us continued the celebrations at the hotel bar. It was honestly the best day and night ever, and a dream come true.
Writing this post 6 months later has helped me relive every moment in such detail. It’s been so nice to put all the memories into a neat digital scrapbook, which I’m sure we’ll look back on regularly to relive these special moments again and again. Thank you for coming along on the journey with us. ♥️
Are you planning a destination wedding or getting married in Bali? Anything you want to know that I didn’t mention? Leave us a comment below…