Whether you are planning a dream destination wedding in Fiji, an intimate honeymoon, vow renewal or romantic escape, Wedding Travel will customise your arrangements. Principal Destination Wedding Travel Specialist Anita Gatley has 25 years experience in the travel industry and specialises in group travel. Wedding Travel pride themselves on getting to know you as a couple as well as your guests and will tailor-make packages specific to each.
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Wedding Travel have negotiated special wedding airfare rates for most of the major airlines and with access to a range of specials, can negotiate accommodation and tour deals on behalf of your group.
Wedding Travel offer a one-stop travel experience and can assist with flights, accommodation, cruises, tours, passport & visa information, rental cars and insurance for the entire wedding group. However, you don’t need to be booking a large Fiji wedding to enjoy stress-free travel – Wedding Travel can also help with your dream elopement or honeymoon too.
Questions & Answers with Founder Anita Gatley
Tell us a little about your service background?
With a degree in English and Education from Auckland University and background in retail & corporate travel I ventured into lecturing at Auckland University of Technology where I became Programme Leader in the ‘Certificate in Travel Studies’ for several years. However, I always ‘kept my hand in’ and remained in the industry at least one day a week. I am approaching 25 years in the travel industry!
What inspired you to start your business and how long have you been offering wedding planning services?
I had a 6 -week old baby, a 3yr old and a 5yr old when a friend of a friend asked me to organize her wedding of 50 people in Koh Samui, Thailand! Of course, I jumped at it and never gave it a second thought. That was over 10 years ago now and I’ve never looked back and have made romance travel, honeymoons and destination weddings my niche. As a Travel Broker for the ‘Travel Managers Group Ltd’ I have all the bonding and contacts required to operate a small home-based business which fits around my family.
Why is it a good decision to engage the services of a wedding specialist?
Over the years I have gone out of my way to increase my knowledge and become a specialist in the romance niche. A destination wedding or a honeymoon is not just another holiday and there is so much choice for couples when it comes to travelling. I pride myself on solving problems and offering advice at a time when it is most needed.
Which other wedding vendors do you like to work with?
Since realizing there was a lack of specialists in the romance niche I set out to make it my own. Over the years I have really done that and made several contacts within both the travel and wedding industries. I set up the website www.weddingtravel.co.nz and have recently produced my own branded brochure. I belong to “The Bridal Club” which is the top 50 suppliers in NZ, I am the only NZ member of the DWSHA (Destination Weddings & Honeymoon Specialist Assn) which is an international body as well as being a Matai Agent with Tourism Fiji.
Do you have wedding packages and what are they? Do you also offer customized wedding package and what have you done recently?
I offer a one-stop shop. I am proud to say that several years ago I noticed a gap in the market and negotiated wedding airfares with the various carriers to Fiji. Group fares with flexible terms. I negotiate flights, accommodation deals and activities for the couple and group. I tailor-make rather than ‘cookie-cut’. I recently organized an elopement for a couple to Fiji. I worked with a colleague I had met at a networking group and she organized the reception for when the couple returned – they got engaged in New York so she themed it like this. By organizing the party before they left the couple felt comfortable they were going to share the wedding experience with friends and family as well as marrying alone – it was the perfect solution!
How many weddings on average do you handle in a year?
I am only a small fish in a big pond so organize about 10 weddings per year. You are dealing with me and me only – I don’t have a huge team of people sitting next to me. That’s not to say I don’t have contacts! I handle the couples who want to elope right up to couples who invite 100 people plus to their weddings and everything in between. Every year is different and couples are booking anywhere from 2 years in advance to a few weeks! They are booking whole resorts or a few cabins on a small ship or a tent if they want to go glamping!
Saying I do: do you organize the legal side of getting married in Fiji?
I can help with the information and will put you in touch with a wedding planner who can assist with that. I act as a go-between but am only a call/email away if help is needed. I’m not there on the day should you need a backup plan if the weather doesn’t comply but am more than happy to answer all the questions a resort planner might not get around to quickly!
Do you have a popular property/venue that is requested and why?
Of course, I have my favourites and those I’m not keen on too! Over the years I have been very lucky to travel to most parts of Fiji (and many parts of the world). In my dealings with the resorts I get to deal with the resort wedding planners as well as independent planners and other suppliers. As part of my own travel I seek out and visit new properties and look specifically as to how this venue/service will suit my clients. It may come down to budget or numbers but I am regularly ‘thinking outside the box’ to make a wedding or honeymoon something special just for my couples.
Do you also arrange couples honeymoon?
Absolutely! Being able to organise a honeymoon almost gives me poetic licence to offer properties/rooms that I love and know my couples will! Being aware that not everyone can afford 5-star, I have tricks up my sleeve to make your trip more affordable. I pride myself on tailor-making a honeymoon to each couple and this means getting to know a couple and their likes & dislikes and offering my advice to meet their expectations.
Top 3 tips for planning your wedding in Fiji?
Allow your specialist to make suggestions but be honest if you are not 100% happy. Whether it is a budget issue or something else your specialist cannot help if you are not totally honest with them. Remember, there are so many variables when it comes to travel so a bit of tweaking might be required.
Be aware that there will be people who can’t come and there will be lots of reasons; health, work, financial. If it is money-issue be prepared to either include it in your budget or acknowledge they may not be there and be Ok with it. Make sure as a couple you are on the ‘same page’ when it comes to this. You will get commitment from friends/family as soon as you ask for money!
Encourage your friends and family to book with the specialist too. You have trusted them to plan and book your wedding and you have made a connection with them because you realize they are working for you. There will always be a few who will ‘do their own thing’ but for your group to benefit as much as possible try and get the whole group to book via one specialist. Murphy’s Law says it is those that don’t that will have issues and your specialist can’t help if they haven’t had a hand in their booking! Remember too, a booking engine won’t help if help is needed!!
Photo Credit: Amanda Wignell Photography