Amanda & Gareth – Hilton Fiji
This wedding officially has the largest number of kids we have ever heard of! But if any place is going to do that well, it’s Fiji. Well known for being one of the most family-friendly locations to holiday on earth, getting married with a classroom-sized ensemble of kids is no problem. We catch up with Amanda and hear all about her and Gareth’s amazing wedding day at the Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa.
BRIDE & GROOM: Amanda & Gareth
THE DATE: 26th July, 2019
THE LOCATION: Maravu Lawn, Hilton, Denarau
THE NUMBER OF GUESTS: 65 adults and 29 children
How, when and where you met:
We first met a high school almost two decades ago but the sparks started flying when we reconnected at university a couple of years later.
Why did you choose Fiji? And why that particular location?
Fiji is very dear to us as we holiday here every second year with our extended families. Denarau offers so much for families travelling with small children and older grandparents. There so many options for accommodation, activities and eating out. Options are everything when travelling with large numbers of people.
What was involved in researching and organising your wedding?
As we were very familiar with Denarau we were confident that any number of venues would have been fabulous. We also knew that each resort had their own event/wedding planning team which makes planning an overseas wedding far too easy. We reached out to a couple of the resorts and ended up choosing the Hilton.
We were assisted by the incredible events team at the Hilton (Caireen and Luse). As I mentioned it was far too easy. They were always available on email or phone and literally walked us through the process step-by-step, including picking us up and escorting us to the local authorities for our marriage license.
We also engaged the lovely Esther from Fiji Weddings for some additional styling. What they delivered was more beautiful than we could ever have imagined. Nothing was too much, even last-minute flower additions on the morning of the wedding.
Tell us about your day, pre-wedding o’clock:
Being an ever-so-slightly older couple with children, the vibe for our day had to be relaxed and flexible. Children are unpredictable. We stayed together and breakfasted with all our guests at the Nuku buffet breakfast. Having friends and family from all over the world meant we wanted to maximise our time with them so there was no hiding away until it was time to walk down the isle.
Who was your hair & make up done by?
Hair and makeup was done by the wonderful team at Totoka Hair and Make up. Our artists were friendly and funny and most of all, really good at what they do.
My dress was from: My dress was called the “Connie” by Rebecca Ingram. I bought it from Astra Bridal in New Zealand.
The Bridesmaids dresses were from: Bridesmaids dresses were called “The Coralie Wrap” by Kiwi designer Amber Whitecliffe. Two of my bridesmaids wore a petrol blue and the other two a dove grey.
The Groom & the guys wore: Gareth wanted a beach take on a smart-casual work outfit. He went with a combination of Country Road jacket (for him only) then all the gents had Zara shirts (tailored from long to short sleeves), AS navy shorts with an anchor pin on the fold from Barkers, tan belts from 3 Wise Men and woven tan shoes from Uncut Australia.
What gifts were exchanged and where from: We gave our children gifts on the wedding morning. Harper our six-year-old daughter was gifted her first Pandora bracelet from her Daddy. I gifted our three-year-old son an anchor-shaped pin, which he refused to wear because it wasn’t lighting McQueen.
Location: Maravu Lawn, Hilton.
The colours/themes you chose:
We went for white (chairs and draping on the wedding arch) along with tropical flowers with lots of greenery.
Who provided and set up the décor at the ceremony:
The styling company, Fiji Weddings put together the majority of the décor and it was perfect.
Who did your flowers & bouquets? Fiji Weddings
Tell us about the style of your ceremony, what vows you chose and anything special you said or did: We wanted the ceremony to be as unfussy as possible so we went for the bare minimum of formalities.
Who was your photographer & why did you choose them?
We used Laura Pittman from Island Encounters Photography and I couldn’t recommend her enough. We had the pleasure of working with Laura almost four years ago when we did a family session in Fiji for my mother’s 70th birthday. We had such a great experience and the results were amazing, that there was never a thought of not using Laura.
What kind of shots were you looking for?
Again, we wanted unfussy, candid and relaxed photos. Importantly for us we didn’t want to spend too long on photos either. We wanted to maximise our time with our guests. Laura was very obliging and still managed to get us to pose for a handful of romantic shots with out too much awkwardness from Gareth.
How do you feel about your photos/videos/what do you love?
Our photos perfectly capture the fun and chaos from the day. With 29 children it was never going to be a traditionally perfect day. We let go of that aspiration from the get-go and focused on being happy and relaxed and just enjoying the day with family and friends. My favourite photo is of my immediate family (sisters and Mum) where my son jack is throwing a tantrum on the floor in front of us. It turned out to be our untraditionally perfect day.
Location: Maravu Lawn, Hilton.
The colours/themes you chose:
White, lots of greenery, tropical flowers and we asked for natural textures in the form of coconut and pineapple for the table settings too.
Who provided and set up the décor at the reception? Fiji Weddings supplied everything but the tables. We wanted lots of fairy lights and Fiji Weddings were able to deliver a canopy of fairy lighting above the wedding reception to act as a roof along with a dancefloor with fairy lights built in the flooring. We also asked them to set up a kids zone with bean bags and low tables.
For cocktail hour we had the wonderful people from the Hilton provide two 5 litre urns filled with cocktails and some delicious canapes. We chose the Hilton’s International Buffet option for feeding our guests. It was the most abundant and varied wedding dinner I’ve ever experienced. To finish we had a two-tier chocolate cake from the Hilton.
Who was the music/DJ/entertainment by?
We chose to play our own music with a pre-selected play list. The Hilton provided the sound system
What did you do at the end of the reception? After all the parents picked up sleepy children and the nannies went home anyone still keen to party on joined us at the Nuku bar at the Hilton.
As we had so many young children present, from three months to 12 year. We arranged for the Hilton Kids Club to provide 15 nannies for us. They came to look after the kids after the ceremony and we had them on hand through to 11pm. The Hilton also kept the Kids Club open so that when the kids had finished their dinner, they were all swept away to the Kids Club (stone’s throw from the wedding location) to play games, colour in and watch a movie. We also supplied our own little party bags for the kids too. With lollies, balloons, colouring in and a little toy. Best decision we made.
ADVICE FOR BRIDES PLANNING A FIJI WEDDING:
In the words of Elsa “Let it go”!
There are so many things that are out of your control, let alone when trying to organise a destination wedding on the beach in another country. Remember what is important to you (for us it was maximising time with friends and family) let the rest of it go. People will remember the time they spend with you not colour of the napkins.
Have faith in your wedding planners and stylists. They do this every day.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:
The children and their unpredictability! Having our crazy kids with us was everything. Being able to share the day with so many families was a delight and one that doesn’t happen often. Most of the kids had never been to a wedding before and they really loved it. I ended up with 6 accidental flower girls because they had heard that’s what little girls do at wedding and were so desperate to “throw flowers”. Their faces when they walked down the aisle!!!