How did you become a minister?
When I was at university in Santa Cruz, California I became a Minister of the Universal Light Church. This church was created in the sixties as a non-denominational alternative to religious-based churches. I had several friends who wanted to be married outside mainstream churches in their chosen settings and that inspired me to become a wedding celebrant.
When did you come to live here permanently?
I originally visited Bali in 1993 and continued coming here regularly on business as an exporter until I moved here permanently in 2001.
When did you become The Bali Wedding Celebrant?
Roughly six years ago, in 2008, I started officiating weddings in Bali.
Tell me about some of the more special weddings you have done.
All weddings are unique and special but for me some of the more touching ceremonies are the renewal of wedding vows. There is something very moving and romantic when a couple, who have been together for twenty, thirty, forty years renew their wedding vows. Not only wonderful to witness the resilience of their love but truly inspiring to see that the thrill of romance still remains a big part of their relationship.
Let me begin by pointing out that the weddings I conduct in Bali are in fact commitment ceremonies and are not recognised as a legal marriage. While it is entirely possible to be legally married in Bali and many couples do so, there are just as well many couples who opt to get the legal formalities out of the way before arriving in Bali. Couples choose to do this for a number of reasons, but most often so they can best enjoy their time in Bali with their family and friends. The majority of couples keep the fact that they are actually already married secret from the guests, and so I perform the wedding so it appears to all present as official, insuring that not only the guests, but more importantly the couple, will forever remember their celebration in Bali as their ‘wedding day’.
The vast majority of the weddings I perform, I do so in conjunction with local wedding planners and I always advise couples to use their services. The wedding planner can be the most important element of a good wedding. Good planning guarantees everything will run smoothly and it takes the stress off of the couple and their families so that they can best enjoy the days leading up to and the actual wedding day. Some couples have been surprised at how many invitations are accepted when the guests find out the wedding is to take place in Bali. Everyone wants to come to Bali!
How far ahead should they prepare?
With Bali being such a popular wedding destination, couples should try to get started as early as possible. The more popular venues, catering outfits and even myself are often booked up to a year or two in advance!
I recently read that you were voted Bali’s most popular celebrant, congratulations! So what makes you different from other wedding celebrants?
The comment I most often get after performing a wedding is how well the ceremony wording suited the couple. I do spend a great deal of time writing and personalizing the ceremony so that it reflects not only the couple but as well their wishes. I always like to remind the couples that there are no rules and the best place to start is to share with me a little information about themselves and how they ideally envision their wedding day. I also encourage and assist couples to personalize their wedding vows so that they can best express their feelings towards their partner. I offer samples of vows and I am always happy to make suggestions so that the vows flow nicely. Most of all, I encourage couples to simply have fun. Don’t get caught up on the little details – after all it is a celebration!
Have you ever had the misfortune of a wedding go terribly wrong?
No, I have been fortunate to never be part of a disastrous wedding, but I have been witness to some pretty funny events. One that comes to mind was a same sex wedding I performed a few years back; two wonderful ladies with a great sense of humour who decided to have a monkey as their ring bearer. All was going smoothly as the monkey walked down the aisle carrying two very large costume jewellery rings (while cute, the monkey was not entrusted with the real rings!). That was until the monkey noticed that all the guests were holding little cones of flower petals. Thinking that the cones were filled with treats, the monkey dropped the rings and proceeded to snatch the cones out of people’s hands. Needless to say, the rings never made it to the altar and the monkey spent the rest of the ceremony shoving handfuls of rose petals into his mouth, but everyone did have a good laugh!
Bali has always been famous around the world for its own beautiful ceremonies. The Balinese have a natural flair for ceremony and love to take part in celebrations, which lends itself perfectly to weddings. They respect other cultures and traditions but at the same time truly enjoy sharing and making their own unique cultural traditions a part of a foreigner’s wedding ceremony.
Besides the beauty of the people of Bali, the physical beauty of the island makes it a truly magical wedding destination. Bali offers a huge variety of wedding settings. We have all seen the photos of the lavish five-star cliff-top and beach weddings, but just as popular and romantic are private villa weddings. With a large number of new villas catering to weddings, the couples are often spoiled for choice of beautiful gardens, majestic ocean views and the classic rice paddy backdrops. Bali truly is perfectly suited to host any size or type of wedding, and again with a luxury of options it is easy to see why so many couples choose Bali.
Lastly, financially Bali is very appealing compared to other parts of the world. For what a couple could spend on a wedding back home they can have a spectacular wedding and as well offer a wonderful holiday to family and friends.
Thank you, Kim! To get in touch, email: [email protected]