When Fiji meets Ireland – we were spellbound by this lovely story of two high school sweethearts who chose Etaoin’s Mother’s home country to be married.
My mom Emeli is Rotuman and my dad is Irish. Neil’s parents Maeve and Connie are both Irish. We both went to the same high school which is how we met, we are childhood sweethearts.
The best thing that happened to me was meeting my best friend, my husband, my everything. We are together 14 years this year, but it really doesn’t feel that long at all.
We picked Fiji for a number of reasons but the main one is because this is where my mum Emeli is from so this place is very close to my heart. Neil and I were here this exact time 2 years ago with my brother Aisake and girlfriend Natalie and we just fell in love with the place, the people, the scenery, the weather, and the activities are wonderful. We have a family member who works at the Sheraton and made sure we had a great holiday and really looked after us. We just love Fiji, it is our favourite place to go.
Funny actually, we stayed in the Sheraton Denarau back then and when we first saw the gorgeous chapel on the edge of the beach which we both thought was stunning and Neil mentioned that this was where he would love to get married. He said it in a dreamy way, we weren’t even engaged back then and now 2 years on our dream wedding has come true. The name of the church is ‘Paradise Chapel’ which is very fitting.
When we booked our package we were dealing with this amazing lady Miriama, the wedding supervisor at Paradise Bride, Fiji. She was communicating back and forth with us and helped planned our special day. She advised us on all our documents needed, from priest to picking our flowers for the chapel, our witnesses, my bouquet and head piece. She also planned our first private 5 course meal as husband and wife in the Flying Fish restaurant which was on the beach, watching the sunset which was all so very romantic.
My dress is from the fabulous Look Book Bride Custom made gowns in Melbourne. Deanne Lebbiano is the lady who owns it and she is just so helpful, her gowns are very affordable and they are just stunning. I went to Deanne with an open mind, I’ve tried on a lot of different style dresses throughout my modelling days doing the bridal shows and wedding fairs but this time was different because it was real for me. Deanne showed me her wide collection and I picked out which ones I liked the look of. That first day I went to her I picked out my dress and it was the most amazing relief. When I went home afterwards I just kept thinking about it and looking back at my photos. I was so happy and I couldn’t recommend her enough to all future brides.
Neil’s outfit was chosen by the both of us. He picked out what he wanted to wear, he loves a skinny jean look and I was happy for him to wear this dressy, summery look as the weather in Fiji suits this look a lot. He looked very handsome.
We had a lot of little hurdles along the way with the tropical cyclone and flights being delayed. We were suppose to arrive 2 days before our day but we really arrived the night before. It rained all of night the night before, it was even cloudy and spitting rain the morning of our wedding and I was feeling so anxious, but when my make up and hair stylist came and once she started dolling me up I began to settle down. Once our photographer Ana and her assistant photographer John from Ocean Studio Fiji came to my room and started taking photos I started feeling more at ease, then the skies opened up and sun came out, so it all started falling into place.
On the day, the flowers in my hair I chose were white and yellow Frangipani and my bouquet was a mix of pink gingers with white seasonal flowers. Miriama had organised my hair and make up for me, I had the very talented stylist Manshita from Totoka Hair & Make Up Fiji. I loved my make up and hair, I emailed pictures of what style I wanted in advance to the team and she took it from there on the day. I didn’t have a trial and was still so happy with the outcome. I had my eyelashes done in Melbourne from Lashes on point, these really made a difference to my look and I absolutely loved them, they lasted over 4 weeks. I would recommend any bride who wants that bit more glamour on the eye look to get eyelash extensions.
We had our ceremony at The Sheraton, Denarau Island. Even though it was just us two I felt my family were with me. I made up some pictures of both our families to have with us getting ready. I had a picture for around my bouquet of flowers of my four brothers and my bulldog Bunty walking me down the aisle.
They dropped me off to the chapel in a Golf cart. I thought I would be a mess, but we were all giddy and smiling and laughing at each other as I walked down. I had two Fijian warriors escorting me down along with my pictures in my bouquet. We had written our own vows and I loved listening to Neil’s. We had similar wordings and phrases in both our vows, the first time we heard each other vows was during the ceremony.
Another thing I loved was our photoshoot time, the photographers from Ocean Studios Fiji Ana and John were great to work with. They did an exceptional job on capturing magical moments of our special day.
We stayed in Fiji for 12 days and had our honeymoon. We did a trip to Malamala Beach Club which was paradise. We had some really nice sunny days after our Wedding and to finish our trip we had another tropical cyclone so we were delayed a day coming back. It didn’t matter as we were so lucky with the stunning day we had on our wedding day.
Our day was perfect and I just want to do it all over again.