Fiji Destination Wedding from 39 East Photography
September 2, 2011
Australia & South Pacific
Beach Weddings
We couldn't think of a better way to spend Friday morning than by getting ready a little early for the weekend with a mini-vacation to Fiji. And since, unfortunately, we can't all hop on a plane and meet there for a Fiji Bitter on the beach, 39 East Photography has been sweet enough to share this amazing Fiji destination wedding with us. So take a few moments for yourself this morning and spend it with this gorgeous wedding. If you close you eyes, you can almost hear the waves crashing on the beach. Don't forget about the gallery for more!

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I have been very privileged to have lived and stayed in some of the most beautiful hotels and resorts due to my dad’s career in hoteling. Of all the places that we’ve lived, Fiji has always held a special place our hearts. Although we only lived in paradise for two years when I was much younger, we have continued to return to ‘our second home’ through the years and every time we leave, we leave with even more wonderful memories.

Anyone who’s been to Fiji will know that time seems to stop on these islands, and for me, this is definitely the case. Every time my family returns to Fiji, we are remembered by so many staff and friends who still live and work at the hotel from 25 years ago. There is nothing like being greeted with a big bellowing “BULA” and a heartfelt hug from our friends in Fiji.

In December, my parents and I returned to Fiji for the first time in 10 years and were so pleased that Tom could get time off work to come with us. I remember on the first day of our stay, Tom and I were exploring the resort when we chanced upon the Seaside Chapel and we knew straight away that this was THE place. We are both lovers of the beach and sea, and the chapel was the perfect setting that just “fit”. Although we had already booked a venue in Perth and even had printed our invitations (and were due to send them out the week after our holiday in Fiji!), we cancelled all our original plans and proceeded to plan our wedding in paradise.

We always knew that the wedding was going to be a small wedding because of the location so we wanted it to be intimate and casual. Even though we understood that all eyes would be on us, it was important to us that all our guests had as good a time as possible and that we expressed our gratitude for them making the trip to Fiji.

We hoped that we would provide enough opportunity in the preceding days to the wedding for all our guests to get to know each other, which would hopefully making the wedding even more fun and more memorable. In the few days before and after the wedding, we planned a cocktail function, a tour of the local village, a chartered fishing tour as well as a day cruise.

We also wanted the wedding to be distinctly Fijian, hence our wedding favors were kava bowls (for the boys) and Pure Fiji toiletries (for the girls). Whilst we didn’t have a strict beach theme, we aimed for a casual sophistication with our invitations, table settings etc. In the end, it was the unexpected that made the wedding unforgettable. At the last minute, we invited a chiefly representative from a nearby village, who led an unplanned Kava ceremony just before dinner, as well as garnered the wait staff to serenade our guests at the end of the night. Truly Fijian!

We believe that the memorability of the wedding was the fact that by the end of everyone’s stay, our guests from Perth, Singapore, Queensland and New South Wales, had all made new friends and left with fond memories of Fiji. As the bride & groom, we were able to spend quality time with all our guests, some of which we don’t see very often and truly reconnect.
Fiji also reflects a casualness and warmth that we think reflects us as a couple as well.

Fortunately or unfortunately, because of the location, there weren’t a lot of options in terms of flowers and décor. In the end, our choices were limited to what the resort could provide and we could only bring so much from Perth. We made the table runners, favor notes and table place cards from the same paper as our wedding invitations (in fact from all the invitations that had been printed for the Perth wedding) as we loved the design. The bridal party’s outfits were all chosen to withstand the summer weather in comfort (the boys didn’t wear jacket and ties) and the flowers were selected from an option of four seasonal flowers. We also managed to liaise with a nearby village to provide us with leis for all our guests at the ceremony, to make it even more Fijian.

We chose “My Destiny” by Lionel Ritchie as our wedding song to walk down the aisle to, as despite being somewhat embarrasing, we are both proud to say that we are huge fans of Lionel. In fact, tom also proposed to me with a Lionel Ritchie song so it only made sense to incorporate our favourite artist which was sang beautifully by the village choir in the chapel.
We also gave our guests all a welcome gift upon their arrival at the hotel- the girls received a sarong (or a “sulu” in fijian), and the boys a “Fiji Bitter” (the local Fijian beer) t-shirt and Fijian style can holder. Along with the wedding favors, we felt it was important that our guests take a bit of Fiji back home!

Photography: 39 East Photography / Bride's Dress: Lisa Ho / Shoes: Tangs Studio / Jewelry: Mimco / Groom’s Pants and Shirt: Tailored at Excellent Silk House, Singapore / Bridesmaids: Karen Millen / Accommodations, Venue & Caterer: The Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa / Wedding Coordination: Cindy Lanyon