Karla & Corey

When Karla and Corey chose Vanuatu for their destination wedding, they surprised their guests by not having a “traditional” wedding and rather, chose to make a holiday out of it. The incredible backdrop that the islands of Vanautu provided served as the backdrop for their wedding day as captured by Kellee Walsh.

Of how they met, Karla tells, “We met in high school. I didn’t understand what the fuss was all about when this guy from QLD started school in Yr 9 and some girls had a crush on him. 3 years later, I caught on.”

The couple’s stationery was designed and made by The Wanderlust Creative. Karla remembering, “My closest friend designed our wedding invitation, that was a generous gift.”

Karla’s strapless wedding gown was made by Heidi Johansen, Karla recalls ,”I designed my dress and the dress maker used her grandmother’s wedding dress lace and used it on my dress, she also embroidered our wedding date inside my dress.”

Karla and Corey were married at Cathedrale du Sacre Coeur, Port Vila, Vanuatu. Karla tells, “The church was a little tricky to research – as google images could only supply so much images of churches in the city. We were limited with Catholic churches, as we wanted to transport our family and friends as comfortable as possible so that was easy for us to eliminate.”

Karla walked down the aisle with the couple’s son Bailey to a song played by a friend. She tells, “Our Friend, Jason Macdonald (Corey’s Music TAFE friend in high school) sang and played the guitar for us. He did an acoustic version of “Follow” by Sevendust (one of our favourite bands since high school – a surprise from me to Corey.) It was beautiful to see Corey, holding back his tears when he saw me and our son Bailey (who gave me away).”

Fr. Diosdado Haber performed the ceremony, Karla telling, ” We flew our family priest so he could conduct the traditional Filipino ceremony.”

Of their photographer, Karla tells, “Kellee is one of the best storytellers. I was star struck to actually meet her and have her capture our fine day!”

Making the most of Vanautu’s natural wonders, Karla and Corey had wedding photos taken at Mele Cascades, walking there after the ceremony. Karla remarking, “‘I wanted something different with our wedding images so I suggested why not walk all the way to Mele Cascades waterfalls. Kellee was a trooper and risked her precious camera equipment as we walked up to the waterfall! (it was such a great and memorable experience) I didn’t mind getting the wedding dress dirty, You only wear it once, Right?! ”

The couple added traditional Vanautu customs to their day, Karla telling, “We had the traditional church ceremony in the morning and we wanted to do a destination wedding appropriate theme! What better way than to have a lagoon blessing. Swapped the veil for a lei and arrive in style on a canoe! With the Conch shell horn being blown across both ends of the lagoon (where Corey was and another “Chief” that steered the boat! I wanted flowers trailing from the tree to jazz up the lagoon. With petals trailing (it was supposed to be tossed, but never happened!) Local flowers were used and created by Kim from Rhizome Flowers.

Most of the wedding, including the reception and accommodation took place at Holiday Inn, Port Vila, Vanuatu. Karla telling, “It was meant to be a holiday for my Mum’s 60th Birthday – and we hi-jacked it) It took less than 6 months of research and Skype to get my idea across! (it’s something they’ve never done before) And I work in the wedding industry, so I wanted to make sure I wanted to make the most of things while being realistic with resources at the same time.”

The reception was decorated by candlelight, provided by Karla who explains, “I took advantage of everyone’s hand carry(on) and made them carry the hanging glass votives from Sydney to Vanuatu! (and I gave them as a gift to the events co-ordinator and I told her, I don’t want them coming back to Sydney!) It will be a first for them to have such an amazing prop for future events! ”

A fun take on the traditional guest book was using Jenga blocks, Karla telling, “We used Jenga blocks for our family and friends to write on instead of guest books – It’s more fun! (we just couldn’t imagine whipping out a guest book and reading it over and over again) At least family and friends get to play Jenga to entertain themselves!”

“We wanted everyone to eat together, so they made it possible to have a large, banquet style seating arrangement with no table placings. It was “First in, best dressed” approach on seating! Kids were thrown on a separate dining table so they could all run amuck! An advantage of just having family and friends to your destination wedding – you can give them the shortest notice if there are any changes made! (like we told them over dinner that the bus will be ready at 8:30am for a 9am ceremony!)”

“We wanted it as easy and laid back as possible. (It was a first for some to go overseas and sometimes the climate was a shock to them). We weren’t fans of “Formalities” it’s just FAMILY!”

Of their first dance, Karla recalls, “Our first dance was sung by my Brother-in law’s sister and Jason. “Without you” – Brooke Fraser We didn’t want people watching us dance the entire song, so we invited everyone else to dance along with their partners and kids.”

“As part of the RSVP – we asked for guests to dedicate “LOVE songs” to take control of our reception music – BOY did we get a mixture of songs! We decided not to have any bridal party – as we wanted ALL FAMILY members and Friends involved in the wedding!”

Congratulations on your marriage Karla and Corey! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you also to Kellee Walsh for sharing today’s wedding!