Priya & Alan – Sofitel Resort and Spa
At over 100 wedding guests, Priya & Alan are one of the bigger groups we have featured this year. Sofitel Resort on Denarau is a great choice for larger groups and the surrounding locations of Denarau and Nadi also offer plenty of choice for your guests to explore and relax outside of your wedding day. We love the multicultural approach to this wedding; its vibrant colours and that it was clearly planned to ensure their friends and family would have a good time! Read more about what went in to planning Priya and Alan’s special day:
BRIDE & GROOM: Priya Sundar & Alan Delamere
THE DATE: July 12th, 2019
THE LOCATION: Sofitel Resort and Spa
THE NUMBER OF GUESTS: 108 (78 adults & 30 kids)
We got engaged in April 2019. We had loosely discussed having a destination wedding and since I was born there, figured Fiji was the place. As our guest list included people from all over the globe, we sent out ‘Save the date’ via Facebook event in June 2019, giving guests a year to save/plan etc.
We chose Sofitel because it could cater for our large number of guests, plus it was in Denarau, meaning guests had options on where to stay based on their personal budgets. A third of our guests stayed at Sofitel while the remainder stayed at Hilton, The Westin, The Terraces, Ramada Inn, Mercure, Wyndham and a huge house in Nadi township via Airbnb.
We woke up and had a beautiful buffet breakfast with my husband-to-be and our girls. It was a really nice way to start the day. We then went our separate ways and the make up and hair began! The boys had a far more relaxed day filled with knocking back a few cold ones.
Who was your hair & make up done by?
We had our hair and makeup done by Totoka Hair & Make Up. Other than a couple of comms issues re: invoicing, they were absolutely awesome to deal with and did an awesome job on the day. My hair and makeup lasted the duration of the event which is always good. A massive thanks to Ludy (hair), Kajal (makeup and henna) and Arieta (hair).
I did have a trial hair and makeup run the day before the wedding. I also had my henna done the day before, so it worked out well. The reason I opted for the trial, was I had two distinct options for makeup (Smokey eye or gold), so wanted to try them out before the big day. So glad I did (I went for the gold theme on the day). I found it useful sending through images of what I wanted for hair and makeup ahead of time, I also took printed copies with me.
On the day (because there were 5x bridesmaids, 1x guest make-up, 2x flower girl’s hair and bridal hair and makeup), we started at 9am and finished around 1.30ish. Sofitel kindly gave us Bure 5 within the So Spa salon area to have our hair and make-up done, with final touch up’s back in the room. Thanks to Selai, we had a couple of bottles of bubbles during this time while the boys got some beers to help them get ready.
My dress was from:
I wore a traditional Indian outfit which was purchased from Roop Darshan in Mt Roskill, New Zealand.
The Bridesmaids dresses were from:
The bridal party also wore traditional Indian outfits purchased from Bharat Fashions and Papatoetoe, New Zealand.
The Groom & the guys wore:
The groom and groomsmen wore traditional Indian outfits purchased from the Roop Darshan store in Papatoetoe, New Zealand.
In terms of gifts from guests, we felt that our guests spending all that time and money to help us celebrate our special day was gift enough, so we opted for either no gift, or if people really wanted to do something, then to donate to a local charity (which we found though Global Giving).
Location: Sofitel Beach Front Bure at 3pm
We had our ceremony at the beach front bure. We went with the set up the Sofitel provided as figured the beautiful beach background was our decoration 😊 this also saved us thousands on costs as we reused the flowers from the ceremony, on the reception tables.
We had downloaded music on a Spotify playlist. My brother then connected his phone to the sound system and hit play. As our ceremony was at 3, he came on-site at 2.30 to make sure everything connected and worked ahead of time.
My bromaid, the flower girls and bridesmaids walked out to “I won’t let go” by James Morrison. I walked out to an Indian track – Ve Maahi. There were 50 seats set up, it was pretty hot so most of the guests chose to stand out of sun as much as possible.
Immediately after the ceremony, my brother hit play on another playlist of songs, this time it was all Kiwiana music (old school to new school). We were only meant to have this going during the group photos but ended up playing the whole list as the sound system was far away enough from the serenaders that our guests could enjoy them, while we (bridal party) enjoyed some Kiwi faves during our photoshoot.
Our wedding colours were red and gold for the bride and groom (traditional Indian wedding colours), and blue and gold/red for the bridal party. With this in mind, our flower arrangements etc. were red and white. Plus I absolutely LOVE gingers and the colours tied in perfectly with our outfits.
We had red gingers with white flowers. I wasn’t a fussy bride and didn’t really mind what kind of bouquet we had. The arrangement we ended up having was stunning. The flower girls also had flower crowns made up of similar flowers/colours which tied into the bridal group really nicely. These were delivered to the room as we were getting ready.
My mum was our celebrant. We wrote our own vows and ring exchange sentence. We got legally married in NZ a few months earlier, so didn’t need to worry about all the paperwork side of things in Fiji. Instead of the signing, we did the cake cutting immediately after the ceremony which was then served to our guests during the pre-dinner drinks / canapes prior to reception.
We had Arvind from Impressive Photography for an hour as part of the wedding package. We decided to use him from 12.30- 1.30pm to take snaps of us as we got ready. We have received our photos and I am happy with what we have received!
We hired Shaneel from Videoticz from 3pm – 8pm who did an AMAZING job! Highly recommend Videoticz. I got in touch with Reenal Prasad via Facebook in the first instance.
We decided to go with him based on feedback from previous brides on the work him and his team had done, plus being able to see their pics on the Facebook pages really helped. What impressed me more is that we had the first cut and demo website with pics within two weeks of our wedding. It was so awesome to see the pics while we were still away on holiday.
We provided Reenal with a list of the photos we wanted ahead of time. We had bridal party photos done during the pre-dinner drinks hour, which were done on the beach in front of the Meke Lawn where we had our reception. Because we only had an hour for photos, and with such a large group (most with kids etc.), we didn’t want to wonder too far away for photos, and what better background than the beautiful beach! It was perfect, we saved on time and are incredibly happy with the photos.
My bromaid’s husband kindly offered to do the videoing for us which we are so grateful for as we weren’t going to hire anyone for this.
We absolutely LOVE our photos! Just the beauty of the beach in the background plus trees (I love nature).
The location was the Meke Lawn. We went with traditional Fijian table settings provided by Sofitel. We are a very multicultural couple / whanau (family) and wanted to have a traditional look and feel to our wedding. To incorporate Indian, Fijian and Maori.
Sofitel provided all the table settings and flowers which were reused from the ceremony. We took over wooden table numbers and had bubbles (blowing bubbles) placed on each table setting. We had to buy the bubble solution separately and fill each tube up which we happily did a few nights before the wedding while having drinks. Additionally, for the kids, we had colouring in pencils purchased from Kmart, and mandala themed colouring in pages.
My amazing bromaid provided personalised candles for the head table and engraved bride and groom Champagne glasses.
We had pre-dinner drinks/canapes and photos – 3.45pm – 4.45pm. This was held under the round tree oval literally 100meters from the ceremony but in a nice shaded area next to the beach.
We switched the Fijian serenaders from the ceremony portion of our package, to the pre-dinner drinks. Our guests loved this as they enjoyed their canapes, wedding cake and drinks. The kids each got their own box of the chef’s special for their canapes. Kids and parents were absolutely blown away by this.
While this was happening, the bridal party ducked out for photos, which were done on the beach in front of the Meke Lawn where we had our reception. Because we only had an hour for photos, and with such a large group (most with kids etc.), we didn’t want to wonder too far away for photos, and what better background than the beautiful beach!
For dinner we selected the Bollywood buffet (with some changes). We changed out a couple of the salads for Kokoda (raw fish) and Palusami. We also swapped out the full Indian desserts for the canape menu (strawberries and cream tarts, choc mousse, lemon meringue, baked cheesecake etc.). Our guests are still RAVING about the food “best wedding food ever” is what we keep hearing, and I must agree. The food was absolutely on point! I’m just guttered I couldn’t eat more!! Our catering manager from Sofitel on the night was Ravlin, and I honestly can not praise this guy enough. He was AMAZING! He made sure our glasses were always topped and really looked after our event.
We extended our drinks package by an additional two hours, as our package only had 3 hours.
We hired DJ Inosi as our DJ, this was after reading many positive reviews about him. We also organised the island dancers and fire dancers through him. The awesome thing with this group is they did performance from other island groups e.g. Tahiti, Cook Islands as well as Fijian. We are a culturally diverse group, so this really appealed to us. We hired this group as a ‘surprise thank you’ to our guests for travelling all that way for us. The only hiccup, the performance was supposed to start at 6.45pm but the van the group were travelling on broke down, meaning it caused a bit of a timeline shuffle/delay with the itinerary, but it was no big drama. DJ Inosi handled it like the pro, and we ended up doing our first dance before the show which in hindsight we were SO, SO glad we did!
At the end of the reception we went back to our rooms, most of our guests (and us) have kids so we needed to get back to them. We did hire babysitters from 7pm through to 10pm organised through Sofitel. This was an absolute life saver.
On the Sunday after our wedding, we had set up lunch at the Salt Restaurant on-site. Approximately 40 guests RSVP’d but around 60 turned up which was awesome. It was a way of catching up with people before everyone started to head back/go their separate ways. Ravlin was also our main guy for this event and did a superb job accommodating our guests.
Also, on the Sunday as part of the package, we redeemed our luxury couple’s spa package and to say it was AMAZING would be an understatement! Part of the package included a beautiful romantic dinner for two in the bure where we got married. It was the perfect way to close our last night there and the food was delicious.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:
The whole day was amazing. In fact, our entire stay leading up to the wedding was pretty amazing!
ADVICE FOR BRIDES PLANNING A FIJI WEDDING:
I hate to say it, but trust in the process. Know that Island time is a real thing and if you’re OCD in terms of planning and organisation, then things can get stressful. I would encourage brides to keep in check with your wedding coordinators and would strongly recommend getting a wedding planner if you can. It’s so much easier knowing there’s someone over there where planning weddings is their day job vs. you trying to do it on top of work/kids/life etc.
If you have a large number of guests attending your wedding, make sure you take some time out per day just for yourself. I am an absolute extravert, but being ‘on/available’ for 4 full days leading up to the wedding was a lot to take in.
Have someone video your day and take random snaps of the tables, flowers, settings etc. We originally weren’t going to have a videographer, and after the fact I’m so grateful my bromaid’s husband offered to do it. You spend months/years planning this big day, the finer details, and there is so much of it that you don’t really notice because the day is so full on (in the best way possible). I didn’t notice the details e.g. bubbles, colouring in bits and pieces etc. on the tables on the day so it was really nice to see them a few days later when someone the guest sent us their pics. Same thing with the video, there is so much that I didn’t see because of nerves (e.g. when walking up the aisle etc.).