Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Getting Married in Paradise

I got married in the beautiful Fiji Islands back in 2000. My fiancé (at the time) and I decided that we wanted to go to a tropical beach to tie the knot. We considered Hawaii, or even the Caribbean, since we reside in Seattle, we mainly just wanted to go somewhere warm!

About 6 months prior to our wedding date, I went to Fiji on a Travel Agent Familiarization trip. Upon exiting the airplane, I was basically swept off my feet. The aroma of the sugar cane fields, the warm tropical breeze, the lush vegetation everywhere, and the friendliest group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet made it easy to decide that this would be the perfect place to start our new lives together.

Upon my return to the U.S., it wasn’t hard to convince my husband-to-be that this tropical paradise would be the perfect place for us to get married and honeymoon, so we started planning the details right away. One of the great things about getting married in Fiji is that there isn’t much to it. All we had to do was pick our dates, book the flights, and decide where we wanted to stay, and the wedding coordinator took care of everything else.

The wedding package that we purchased included a fresh orchid bouquet and boutonniere, a professional videographer, the minister, services on the beach at sunset, a Fijian Warrior and Bridesmaid, both dressed in traditional Fijian attire, a 12 person choir, a 5 course gourmet dinner on the beach, a bottle of French champagne, and a day trip to our own private island, including a lobster picnic. The price was a mere $600 USD (however, this was several years ago).

We flew Air Pacific from L.A. to Nadi, unfortunately the flights from the U.S. to Fiji all arrive in the early morning hours, and we arrived at 5:00 am. After clearing customs and collecting our travel documents at the tour desk located inside the airport, we caught a taxi to our first hotel, the Sheraton Royal Denarau (which is now the Westin Denarau Island Resort).

We spent our first two nights at this beautiful resort, which is designed and decorated in traditional Fijian décor and surrounded by lush, fragrant tropical flowers and gardens, and also located on a private white sand beach. We stayed in a garden view room, which was very spacious, and we even had a patio with a table and chairs on it, where we were able to enjoy our breakfasts.

On the morning of the third day, we were transferred to our seaplane to make our way to Matamanoa Island, where we would be married. The seaplane flight was spectacular, one of our highlights of the trip. It was an awesome way to see many of Fiji’s 330 beautiful islands, and the coral reefs that surround them. One of the best parts of the flight was the landing. Of course, we landed in the water, and so had to climb out of the plane in the warm tropical waters and make our way up to the beach where the wedding planner was waiting for us.

Matamanoa Island is what one might picture a true island paradise to be. The island is so small, that it takes a mere 30 minutes to walk all the way around it. There is a volcanic cone jutting out of the center, which is lush and green, and is covered in banana trees, papaya trees and wild hibuscus plants. About two-thirds of it is surrounded in powder white sand beaches, and it is situated in crystal clear turquoise waters filled with colorful marine life! The best part is, there are only accomodations for 50 people on the entire island!

After going over our wedding plans, and getting situated in our ocean front bure, we made our way to the beach. One of the reasons why we chose Matamanoa Island as a place to get married was because it is an adult’s only island, so it is quiet and relaxing. Our wedding was scheduled right at sunset, since we wanted a “sunset beach wedding”, which was at approximately 6:00 pm that evening. Around 4:00 pm, we decided to head back and start getting ready.

Upon arrival in our bure, my white orchid bouquet and my husband’s boutonniere were delivered to us, along with a basket of fresh island fruits. After he got ready, he headed down to wait at the resort bar until it was “time”, and to allow the bride to get ready. Just as I finished getting ready, there was a knock at my door, and I could hear beautiful loud music coming from outside. To my surprise, the bridesmaid, Fijian warrior, videographer, wedding planner and 12 person choir were waiting for me outside!

I was ushered through the resort and down the beach barefoot in my wedding dress, with this huge entourage and angelic music following, until I was standing next to my love. It was such a magical moment. We said our vows there in the warm soft sand, with the gentle waves lapping behind us, just as the sun set. Everything was just as perfect as we could have ever imagined, and completely stress free.

We plan to return to Fiji one day for one of our anniversaries.

To plan your dream wedding or honeymoon, or just a vacation of a lifetime, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

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