Happy Friday! Today we have a very exciting feature to share with you all. Margaret and Joe recently traveled to Namale Resort in Fiji for a surprise vow renewal planned by Margaret. The expression on Joe’s face as Margaret walks down the stairs to him pretty much sums up this lovely celebration! Margaret does an amazing job retelling this sweet story and also has some fantastic insight, not only for planning a wedding but also insider travel tips for anyone looking forward to a Fijian escape! Let this story and the amazing images by Island Encounters Fiji carry you straight into the weekend!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Joe and I met in college, we were actually neighbors, his fraternity was next door to my sorority. We initially started out as friends, and I quickly formed a crush on him; he was more quiet than the other guys which was intriguing (for those ladies who like Sex and the City…he looked so much like Berger and I was smitten.) It took some chasing on my part, but he finally caught on to the fact that I was interested and over a pitcher of beer with a group of friends we finally addressed the fact that we liked each other.
In good ol’ fashion we went on a first date to dinner and a movie (50 First Dates and burritos) and not too long after we started officially dating. He even asked me to be his girlfriend by giving me his high school class ring…pretty darn cute. By the time we got married we had been together for 7 years – and to celebrate we actually had two weddings. One in Southern California with our families and another in the Dominican Republic with all our friends.
How did you decide on your vow renewal destination?
We had a trip planned to Fiji around our 5th anniversary as I was working for a resort there in Sales & Marketing. We had been before and I knew that Joe wouldn’t suspect a vow renewal so I started the surprise planning. I enlisted the help of one of my closest friends, Jake, who actually walked me down the aisle at our Dominican Republic wedding, to meet us in Fiji for a “scuba trip” with Joe while I was working. This was the perfect distraction so that Joe would have no idea. I then told Joe that the photographer doing some work for the resort needed us to pose in some wedding couple photos so he would need to wear a suit…and little did he know the entire setup was for our actual vow renewal. I am not sure how, but we pulled it off and it was so worth it!
Favorite memory or moment from your trip.
Margaret – For me it was walking down the stairs to our waterfall ceremony and seeing Joe’s face. The entire vow renewal was a complete surprise for him, so when I came down the stairs I was finally able to see it all come together, all the stress melted away and for a few moments time stood still…all I was focused on was how happy he looked and how lucky we were to be in this amazing place celebrating 5 years. It was pretty amazing.
Joe – For me it was the moment that I realized it was our actual wedding and not just a photo opportunity as Margaret had described. She really got me on this one, I had no idea we were renewing our vows. When I saw her come down the stairs to the waterfall it all hit me – the surprise, the emotion, and mostly feeling so happy and lucky to be where we were both in location and in our relationship. Hitting 5 years and still feeling like we just started dating.
What are the can’t miss activities, sights, and experiences of Fiji?
The culture is hands down the best part of Fiji – the people there are the most genuinely happy and loving individuals that you will ever meet, and it’s contagious. You can’t help but be happy around them so I definitely suggest immersing yourself in the culture. Visit a local village, talk with the staff at the resort, try Kava, get up and dance during cultural nights, try local foods and explore!
I also suggest getting out on the water, whether it’s snorkeling, scuba diving, a sunset boat ride or just lounging in the ocean. The water is calm, warm and full of amazing colorful fish and coral. We stayed up in the northern islands, so we also really enjoyed the Salt River Float down one of the few salt water rivers in the world. Since the water is fed from the ocean, you float up-stream through the rainforest and end up in a stunning lake. A boat followed along with us the entire way serving us drinks as we floated and then drove us back up stream after some sunbathing on the floating dock in the lake. What a day!
One of our other favorites was Cloud 9 – we arrived to Denaru long before our evening flight home so we had an entire day to kill. So after our short flight from Savusavu we hopped in a taxi and then took a boat out to Cloud 9 which is a floating bar and restaurant that sits right along the wave break at the reef. The location is unreal – you almost have to pinch yourself it’s so beautiful. Plus they have some of the best pizza in Fiji and pretty tasty drinks.
What is the one thing you didn’t see or do that you wish you had?
I wish we could have had the chance to do a helicopter or sea plane ride – the views of the islands, the ocean and the reefs from the air is so beautiful and we just didn’t get enough of that on our flight over.
At Namale Resort, ladies from the local village come weekly so that guests can shop right on property – we really liked this because it was their own handmade goods they were selling.
What about Fiji makes it a legendary wedding destination?
There are a few things that really make Fiji stand out as a prime destination:
• The setting choices for your wedding; you can choose a beach, waterfall, private island, rainforest, golf course, clifftop…I mean the options are endless and every location is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. You won’t get this anywhere else!
• It’s surprisingly affordable – getting there (airfare) can be pricey, but compared to similar weddings in the US or other parts of the South Pacific, Fiji is incredibly affordable.
• The Fijian people – they really go out of their way to make sure that your day is perfect. Talk about feeling like a king and queen! Especially if you choose a traditional ceremony and are carried in or escorted by Fijian warriors.
• The fact that your wedding can seamlessly transition into a romantic honeymoon is pretty convenient. With over 300 islands you can easily get married at one destination and then island hop to another for your honeymoon. That in itself is pretty darn awesome!
• Fiji was practically made for romance with the impeccable service, luxury accommodations, private beaches, overwater bungalows, private pools and hot tubs, spas, the fine dining and the incredibly warm and helpful staff at the resorts. Every desire you have will be met for you in Fiji.
Tips for people currently planning a wedding to Fiji?
Lean on your travel agent and the wedding planner at the resort. They know the property and will know what works best, and will also have some great suggestions for local vendors.
I also suggest planning ahead – there aren’t a ton of vendors so their schedules can fill up quickly.
Lastly is to relax, Fiji is so laid back and I promise you that the Fijians will take care of every detail so do not stress! And even if there is a hiccup, the vibe there is so chill that you probably won’t even notice or care. Your worries and the stress of daily life really does melt away in Fiji – so relish in that. You can’t get it many places these days.
After hearing that amazing story, we’re definitely looking forward to a relaxing weekend ahead, in true Fiji fashion. If this inspired you to plan a destination wedding or honeymoon in Fiji of your own, contact us or your preferred travel agent today to make your dream occasion come true. If you’ve already been to Fiji, what was your favorite memory from your time spent there?