Monique & Karel
Karel and I met when we were just 21, so almost 8 years ago. I was introduced to him by a mutual friend at Karel’s 21st birthday party. From the moment we met I knew I wanted to get to know him better, so we went on a few dates, he made me laugh and the rest is history.
I was very hesitant initially when Karel suggested we have a destination wedding – I am a Virgo and a slight control freak so trying to coordinate something as big as a wedding from home in Australia seemed very daunting to me. We decided to travel to Fiji the year before (March 2016) to check out all the resorts and meet with the wedding coordinators to see what packages they had to offer and visualise exactly where our wedding would be held. Once we decided on the resort that best suited us, which was The Hilton on Denarau Island, I had a vision of exactly what I wanted.
I didn’t think it would be possible to pull this off. But with a few (hundred) emails and phone call exchanges, I was proven very wrong!!!
I am so glad we had a destination wedding and I would do it over again in a heartbeat. Everything on the day came together and it was the best week of my life. Instead of celebrating for just one day we got to have our family and friends around us and relax for the entire week. All our suppliers, the resort and friends and family made our wedding day something to remember and I wish we could relive it all over again.
I wore a Made with Love dress called “Frankie” it was simple and elegant just what I wanted for a Fiji wedding. My bridesmaids wore white Sheike dresses.
My hair was done by Lydia from Totoka Hair & Make Up. Lydia also did my hair for our engagement shoot a year earlier and I just loved how easy-going and lovely she was on both occasions. For my makeup I brought a friend along from Australia Jessica Peris, who is also a make-up artist.
The Groom and guys wore pants and shirts from MJ Bale with Floral bow ties from OTAA.
Our ceremony was held on the lawns at the Hilton Fiji Resort under a large shaded tree, the ocean was behind us and it was exactly what I envisioned.
I am very thankful that I engaged Grace Creations because styling was something that was very important to me. I wanted a wedding that was modern but also quite neutral with lots of Greenery and white with tropical fruits like Coconuts and Pineapples to capture the destination wedding feel. I felt that the beauty of Fiji and location of where we were married could speak for itself without having too much décor and details. Grace Creations also provided all our flowers, my instructions where green tropical leaves with some white flowers and I wanted them large and unstructured. They did a fantastic job.
I also wanted fairy lights strung over our reception, it made the evening feel so magical. We hired our Tiffany chairs and a light up LOVE sign from Fiji Party & Events Hire who delivered on the day and I didn’t need to worry about a thing at all.
We had the reception on the lawns next to the Maravu restaurant at the Hilton Resort. I had always wanted an outdoor wedding on the grass and under the palm trees. We had large round tables and a long bridal table with the ocean in view. We also had hundreds of fairy lights strung above us. Our centrepieces of greenery, pineapples and coconuts were provided by Grace Creations.
I had laser cut timber table numbers stuck into fresh pineapples and name places made for all guests and the bridal table made by Hayley from Ashwood Lane.
We had a bar tab on the grass next to our ceremony location with fresh coconuts, beer, wine and champagne with music while we went and has some photos taken. Guests then had a chance to freshen up in their rooms or sit at the restaurant and enjoy some finger food and more drinks. All of this was supplied by The Hilton.
We decided on a buffet given the large amount of guests we were expecting. I was sceptical about the quality of food when offered a buffet option but we upgraded our package to the Beach BBQ and the food was brilliant, so many guests commented on the food quality and variety. There was no chance of anyone going hungry and it was all cooked to perfection. The wedding cake was a large but simple iced white cake with greenery provided by the Chefs at the Hilton.
Our photographers were hands down the best – we chose Malia and Stu who were so much fun to work with. We had done a fun test engagement shoot in the Fiji Highlands with them about 12 months before our wedding and they took us out to dinner that same evening. We instantly knew that they were the photographers for us. They knew exactly what shots to get and managed to contact a local village so we could visit and have the true Fijian experience upon our request. We felt so relaxed in their presence and have nothing but nice things to say about them. The products produced by Lia and Stu are incredible. We are so happy with our photos and have many compliments and questions about who our photographers were. Nicest people out!!!!!
The thought of having a destination wedding and not having my own dogs there was a big thing for me. My dogs are my children and we don’t do anything without them. I was very hesitant about agreeing to get married in Fiji and having to leave them behind, but as my husband so badly wanted to, we had to compromise.
I am a HUGE animal lover and always wanted animals of some kind in my wedding photos because that’s what makes me happy. I contacted Lia and Stu as they had mentioned that if I had any ideas for photos to let them know. I asked if it was possible if they could arrange to have some puppies (from a local village) in my photos, if this wasn’t possible maybe some cows or horses grazing in a paddock somewhere would be fine.
We also wanted to be able to spend some time in a local village because of our love for Fiji and its people. A lot of brides remain at the gorgeous resorts for photos and I feel like these places don’t do justice for Fiji’s natural beauty and that’s the kind of wedding we wanted.
We sought permission from a local village chief to allow us into the village for a Kava session and some photos – Lia and Stu had told me it wasn’t possible to get puppies on the day, although I was sad I understood.
We were getting our photos in the village and didn’t know there was a SURPRISE in store – a bunch of puppies came running out, luckily for us Stu can speak Fijian and got all the village children to grab us a puppy each. Lia and Stu had known all along and surprised us with these perfect little bundles for our photos, I was so so happy and have had so many comments and compliments on our puppy bouquets as we like to call them.
My top 5 pieces of advise for planning your Fiji wedding:
1. Be persistence with responses and clearly articulate what you are after.
2. Read other brides reviews and experiences.
3. Research your suppliers, if you can afford it get a planner or stylist.
4. If possible travel over to Fiji ahead of your wedding. I travelled to Fiji in March 2016 to look at venues and meet planners/suppliers. Even though we had travelled to Fiji before, being able to be there and imagine exactly where the reception and ceremony would be held, being able to ask questions and get wedding brochures made me feel a whole lot better.
5. Arrive in Fiji minimum 2-4 days before your wedding day so you can have time to relax and meet suppliers and run through the plan with your wedding coordinator (it will make you feel so much better!)
None of your wedding guests or bridal party will notice if minor things go wrong, only you will. Go with the flow and enjoy every second of the day. Don’t sweat the small stuff and if anything goes wrong let it go and embrace the moment. Being able to marry my best friend in a country where we had our first holiday together was incredible – Fiji is a special place for us both and we can’t wait to continue to visit for years to come.
The amount of fun we had with our bridal party and photographers was a definite highlight – as was going offsite into a local Fijian village. Having so many friends and family travel to Fiji to spend such a special day/week with us was incredible, and the location – the natural beauty of being married so close to the ocean at an amazing resort, surrounded by the friendliest culture in the world.