There’s a certain bond some of us have with Fiji – it’s not because we were born there, it’s because it feels like home. When I first moved to Fiji I felt an instant connection with my new country of residence and now consider it home. When I was reading through Caitlyn’s comments on why she choose to get married in Fiji, I immediately connected with them and understood why she chose such a special place to get married. I’m excited to share a well planned and incredibly stylish Fiji wedding, put together in just 10 short months!
“My family is originally from Fiji (both my parents were born there and lots of family still live there). I have gone to Fiji every year since I was born – it is a second home to me. Ever since I was little I dreamed of getting married in Fiji. It is such a special place to me, my family and now Marcus too”
We met at a mutual friend’s wedding at the NGV in Melbourne when I mustered up the courage and introduced myself to Marcus at the end of the night. It was the March 2013 long weekend and a super-hot day. Marcus proposed in Fiji on New Year’s Eve 2016 on a beach near my family’s place.
We had both seen a couple of weddings held at The Garden of the Sleeping Giant (GOSG) so after we got engaged we visited the venue with my parents and just fell in love with the place. We also wanted a venue where we weren’t dictated to about styling, drinks and food which is usually what happens at the larger resort style venues. Having our wedding at GOSG allowed us to create the exact vision we had in mind, hand pick all of our own alcohol and design a menu that we loved.
It is such a stunning setting and really a blank canvas for whatever your vision is. The other great thing about the venue is there are lots of separate areas so you can utilise the entire garden for ceremony, reception, drinks etc.
After deciding on the venue, deciding on a wedding planner. We knew we needed a planner because it would be too time consuming to plan an international wedding from Melbourne. Fortunately the two weddings at the GOSG (we had seen online and loved) were done by Taste Fiji so that’s who we contacted immediately while we were still in Fiji after getting engaged. We met with Louise, told her we wanted to get married in November and it was all systems go!
THE BRIDE WORE: Alexandra Gown, Grace Loves Lace
THE BRIDE’S HAIR & MAKEUP: I flew over my hairdresser from Melbourne, Klaudija, who is a hair and makeup artist. I also used Totoka Hair & Make Up for the bridesmaids and flower girl hair.
THE BRIDESMAIDS WORE: Sheike
THE FLOWER GIRL WORE: Origami
THE GROOM & THE GUYS WORE: M J Bale and McClouds shoes
The wedding location was the lower garden, Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The décor and set up was provided by Taste Fiji. We had all white flowers and greenery to fit the venue, using Tadra Flowers organised by Taste Fiji.
We had a catholic ceremony (done by Father McIlraith, a priest from Suva who my family has known for years) in the lower garden at the GOSG. Unfortunately it had to be cut short because of rain but we were so grateful that there was a small window of opportunity to have it down there. We were also lucky all of our guests were so easy going and didn’t mind getting wet to watch us get married!
Elsa Campbell, Melbourne.
Rose from Peachylini as a second shooter.
Jason and Lilly from Lumen Films
We also had Stella from Pepe Fiji who hand made our favors – leaf purses for the girls and matching beer coolies for the guys
For the reception we worked with Taste Fiji to create simple elegance that fit in with the feel of the venue.
We had a white marquee set up with two long tables. Above each table were 27 m greenery chandeliers intertwined with festoon and fairy lights. On each table we had one long centerpiece which was a mix of greenery, white flowers and tea light candles. The centrepiece cascaded over each end of the table and we had natural linen table cloths and napkins, wooden chargers and gold cutlery.
Cocktail hour and canapés were meant to be outside in another small separate lawn area outside the main bure but because of the rain it had to be undercover in the main bure area. We had coconut mojito’s, champagne and beer served with a range of canapés. We were meant to have an acoustic singer during this time set up on the lawn but because of the rain and having to have it under cover, our entire band kindly kicked into gear early!
Fiji is all about sharing food and lots of it! This is why we decided to have a buffet so all of our guests could try and enjoy the delicious fresh produce Fiji has to offer. We had fresh prawns, oysters, a number of different salads, a pig on the spit (which everyone is still raving about), fish, chicken… the list goes on! Taste made us a three tier / three flavour cake (passion fruit and white chocolate, coconut and lemon, mango and coconut) topped with real phalaenopsis orchids and we also had a dessert buffet made up of a number of bite sized desserts.
For our entertainment we had Inside Out Band playing and everyone danced nonstop from10pm to 2am!! Kuki and his band are unbelievable. So much energy, amazing voices and didn’t miss a beat. Also such nice guys!
We had a photo booth and whisky bar with espresso martini’s set up next to the dance floor. We also had hot finger foods come out at 11pm to soak up all the drinks which everyone seemed to enjoy.
Our wedding planner arranged buses for our guests to and from the GOSG. We gave our guests the option to depart at 12am or 2am! We left on the 2am bus where the party continued with Bollywood music.
The day after the wedding we had a recovery at a house we had rented in Denarau. It was really relaxed and catered by Cherie Oyagawa at Café O. Again, people are still talking about the food from the recovery! BBQ meats, salads, curries, dahl, roast pork, pilau and the most amazing dessert buffet!
ADVICE FOR BRIDES PLANNING A FIJI WEDDING:
1. Have a wet weather plan!
2. Have faith in your wedding planner and trust that they will do a good job!
3. Enjoy yourself even if things don’t go exactly to plan – it’s one of the best days of our life so have the best time because it goes so fast!
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:
Caitlyn – getting ready with my mum, dad and bridesmaids, receiving my bouquet which I just loved, having my dad walk me down the aisle, seeing Marcus’ gorgeous smiling face waiting for me, our comical priest, doing our first dance and of course, having all of our nearest and dearest in Fiji!
Marcus – after a nervous morning watching the rain roll through in Denarau, I arrived at the GOSG unsure whether we would actually be able to have the ceremony in the lower garden where we so desperately wanted it. But with a short gap in the rain – and the enthusiastic support from my groomsmen and Father McIlraith – we decided to run with the ceremony in the lower garden. Watching my beautiful bride walk down the aisle in front of all our loved ones in the place we’d dreamed of for close to a year will be a moment I’ll never ever forget. And of course seeing her in her dress just blew me away – she looked more beautiful than I could have imagined.