Bula Bride is excited to introduce you to Mandi Forrester Jones of Worldwide Weddings. Mandi is an expert when it comes to planning Fiji Destination Weddings and is our first official guest blogger. Bringing you hot tips and advice to help you in your planning.

To start, 7 reason to say “Yes” to a destination wedding. To be honest, I only need 1 reason to convince me – marry my man in tropical paradise.

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Now that you’ve found that special person to share your life with, you’ve got to find the perfect location where you can make it official. Today, more than ever, couples are opting out of traditional weddings in stuffy churches with hundreds of guests and are instead planning destination weddings. But is that the right choice for your big day? Here are a few good reasons you might want to say “Yes.”

Reason 7: Good Excuse for Short Guest List

The size of the guest list for traditional weddings is one of the biggest debates couples and their families get into during wedding planning. Big guest lists equal more expensive weddings while smaller guest lists can cause hurt feelings among the loved ones. With a destination wedding, no one is going to expect you to invite 300 people to share your special moment. In fact, it’s the best way to make sure you have an intimate ceremony with just the people who mean the most in your lives.

Reason 6: More Planning Freedom

Many couples complain that getting the wedding they want is impossible once parents, friends, and well-meaning wedding planners get involved. Those problems are less likely when you are planning a destination wedding. While you may get to work with an onsite wedding planner at your chosen destination, you have the freedom to create a wedding that really is YOUR dream and not someone else’s.

Reason 5: More Location Options

Why would you want to limit yourself to only the potential wedding locations in your small chunk of the world? If you consider a destination wedding, you open to the door to lots of additional possibilities. You could get married on the beach, in a tropical garden, in a luxury resort, on a boat in the middle of the ocean, even under the water! These aren’t choices available to most couples who choose a local location for their special day.

Reason 4: More Opportunities to be with Your Loved Ones

Couples always say they want to share their wedding day with the people they care about but with a traditional wedding that isn’t really possible. Between the last minute planning before the ceremony and the excitement of the reception afterward, most couples barely say two words the whole day to their closest family and friends. With a destination wedding, however, you are more relaxed. With fewer guests, you have more quality time available. Plus, you don’t have to worry about boring rehearsal dinners, you can relax with your loved ones on the beach, explore your tropical location together, and take in some night time entertainment.

Reason 3: Lower Costs

While it may seem hard to believe, destination weddings are often more affordable than traditional weddings. On average, a traditional wedding with 100 people on the guest list would cost you about $25,000. For the average destination wedding with the same number of guests, you would spend about $8,000 less. Now consider that most destination weddings don’t have guest lists that size and you can see your wedding costs shrinking. Plus, you can even cut your costs more by combining the wedding and the honeymoon destination.

Reason 2: Fewer Gifts

While some people might think fewer wedding gifts is a negative towards destination weddings, those gifts are typically more of a hassle than they’re worth. First, you have to set up several registries which is time-consuming then you have to let guests know where you are registered without just telling them because that is in bad taste. Then many guests won’t even purchase anything you registered for so you might end up with multiple toasters or awful artwork that needs to be returned. Plus, it can take weeks to write out all of those thank you cards! Instead, take the money you saved by having a destination wedding, buy all of the stuff you would have registered for, and skip the hassles.

Reason 1: More Memorable

Sure you’re always going to remember the day you got married but many brides – and even grooms – say the day feels like a blur. If it wasn’t for the wedding photos, they wouldn’t remember any of the special moments. By choosing a destination wedding, you’re combining this special event with the relaxation and beauty of a tropical vacation. Plus, a destination wedding gives you a great excuse to come to your island paradise to celebrate a destination anniversary.

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Nikki & Ebonie by Kama Catch Me Photography

So now you’ve decided on a Fiji Destination Wedding, here are a few things to help start your planning.

Where in Fiji?

The main thing with Fiji is that it is not like a lot of other places. For instance if you travel to Asia etc, you tend to only stay in the hotel at night as there is so much to do there, markets, shopping, culture etc. So if you get the wrong resort it is not going to be a major issue. However with Fiji, because of the way it is set out, most of the resorts tend to be mini destinations in themselves, and you are generally more resort-bound. So if you get it wrong, then it is wrong for the whole holiday!

As far as areas go, most of the resorts in Denarau are close to the marina where the island transfers go from, so is most often used for people staying there before heading off to the islands. The beaches are fine there but not amazing, as it is a working port. The benefit Denarau has is that it is close to the airport, so transfers are quick and easy, and if you have lots of people going for your wedding, it can make a lot more sense. The other benefit is that there are many restaurants at the marina to give you a lot of choice for dining, whereas down on the coast or on the islands, you are more limited. Denarau is not really the idyllic Fiji most people imagine!!

The majority of the bigger resorts are down on the Coral Coast. Whereas in Denarau it is easy to get around and all the resorts are close to each other, on the coast this is not the case. It takes about 3 hours to get from one end to the other, with lots of resorts dotted along the way, but there is not much to see or do outside of the resorts themselves. The beaches are nicer here, and are often in protected lagoons so are quite nice and calm and sandy. These resorts are better for slightly longer stays or if you want a bit more Fijian feel and a total resort experience.

Moving on from the coast, you have a lot of resorts that are out in the islands. There are many different islands out there ranging from the family orientated ones such as Plantation, Castaway and Malolo, to adults only islands like Tokoriki and Matamanoa, and the luxury islands such as Royal Davui and Likuliku which has Fiji’s first and only overwater bungalows. These resorts also tend to be inclusive of all meals as well. Which island will suit you will be depending on your budget mainly, but the islands are the quintessential Fiji, with the beaches, palm trees and everything you imagine it to be!

If you have children in your party and need somewhere family friendly, the Fijians love of kids is legendary, and so anywhere that accepts kids will be perfect! They all have good kids clubs or facilities for them, and so they will have a ball

The thing about Fiji is that there is so much choice. If none of these appeal, I can work with you to find exactly the right one!! It is important to get it right, so I am happy to spend time with you working out what it is you are looking for!!

Who can assist me in booking & planning?

Specialist agents are a great help when it comes to organising and booking your wedding. They specialise in what they do, whereas your normal travel agent has to deal with so much variety. Specialist agents can offer a far more in depth service as we know all the wedding coordinators, the rules and regulations, the resorts we know like the backs of our hands etc. However like a normal travel agent, they work on a commission basis with the resorts, so prices are the same as them or dealing with the resorts, and the price they quote is the price, no added fees etc.

Agents assist with documentation, finding the wedding package and location to suit couples as well as arranging flights, transfers and accommodation. They offer attention to detail to make your tropical wedding a stress-free experience and can assist with arranging the reception, hair and makeup, flowers, cake and photography. If guests will be attending they can also look after their travel requirements and suggest group activities in the lead-up to the Big Day.

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Mandi is holding live online meetings with industry professionals. Where you can meet them face to face, have a chat and ask them questions. To find out more and for dates, head to Bula Bride’s facebook page.

Words: Mandi Forrester Jones
Photography: Kama Catch Me Photography