Rebekah & Ciaran
Say “Bula!” to Fiji as we head to there to soak up the relaxed, tropical vibes of Rebekah and Ciaran’s destination wedding. The couple invited their nearest and dearest on a wedding week in paradise, which included a welcome dinner and a hens and bucks party. And even though it was a destination wedding, the couple were able to add DIY touches to their big day, including some gorgeous tributes to their beloved pets. Rebekah, the bride, details how their Fiji wedding came to be and how it unfolded.
Ciaran and I met in 2009, when living on the same floor at a university dormitory in Hobart. We bonded over social nights out, and Ciaran introduced me to a lot of unfamiliar electronic dance music! We are very different in personalities but it just clicked.
After surviving various overseas trips together and me completing my medical degree (Ciaran was essential in keeping me sane during this time!) we decided to move to Adelaide to pursue my post-graduate training. In South Australia, we fell in love with mountain bike riding and the competitive dog sport, bikejor, involving our four much loved Pointers. Ciaran proposed in 2018 when we were out mountain bike riding in Kuitpo Forest, making me ride to the top of a steep hill to get the prized ring!
We both tend not to enjoy too much time in the spotlight, so Ciaran had suggested a simple elopement overseas. I, however, came across an amazing wedding package deal for the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, which was just too good to ignore!
It took a bit for our families to come around to the idea, but eventually everyone was on board for a ‘wedding week’ in Fiji. Thirty of our nearest and dearest travelled from Australia to share our amazing destination wedding, along with pre-wedding celebrations. We tacked on our honeymoon afterwards at the gorgeous Nukubati Island Resort.
My stunning lace dress was ‘Rakel’ by Madi Lane. I always knew I wanted a slim fitting, detailed dress with straps to keep it up on the dance floor. My mother Wendy and I found the dress at the first bridal boutique we visited (Luv Bridal & Formal in Adelaide). It was a very smooth and easy process! Dress alterations, clutch and veil were by the superb Megan from She Sews.
My mother is very talented and made the gorgeous satin blue and lace garter for the wedding as a beautiful keepsake and my “something blue” for the day. Shoes were ‘Jewel’ by Badgley Mischka and so comfortable to wear!
My best friend from medical school (also a Rebekah) was my maid of honour. My two close high school friends Laura and Jess were the wonderful bridesmaids.
When we were planning the wedding, we were living in South Australia and the bridal party were scattered around Australia and the UK! For ease of planning, the girls each chose their own full length navy blue dress, which worked out perfectly and looked amazing, suiting each of their figures and personalities beautifully.
Mitchel, Ciaran’s brother, was the best man, and Jackson was the groomsman.
Ciaran was a lot more low maintenance about his clothing for the day, his main priority was to avoid overheating in the tropical weather! He and the groomsmen wore matching cream chinos and white shirts from YD and Ciaran had a blazer from Peter Jackson.
He is very active so instead of a classic wedding band, he chose an Oura smart ring ordered from America! It suits him well and allows him to track his sleep and activity.
The Outrigger offers three venues for the ceremony: beach, garden or chapel. Given the humidity, heat and my frizzy hair, we decided on the Bure Ni Loloma (house of love) chapel. This proudly sits at the top of the resort overlooking the beach, a stunning view. To get up the hill the guests and wedding party are transported up and down in golf carts. So much fun!
The prelude and the cake cutting song were provided by the Fijian serenaders! I chose to walk down the aisle to ‘Canon in D’ by Pachelbel. This classic was special to my father and I, as it was one of the first pieces I learnt to play on the piano when younger.
The Outrigger package included a choice of flowers for the day. I fell in love with the pink gingers and frangipanis and they were so beautiful on the day. It’s a pity I couldn’t bring them back through customs!
The ceremony was short and sweet! The Outrigger provided a celebrant and pre-written vows, which we altered to suit our personalities. Neither of us particularly enjoy public speaking so this worked very well for us. My mother read the Apache Wedding Blessing and my father gave me away. There were certainly a few tears during the ceremony.
In unique Fiji fashion, we chose to cut the cake straight after the ceremony and it was served at the cocktail hour. Some was even sent back to the married couples’ rooms for a midnight feast!
We had a cocktail hour at the Sunset Bar and the reception was held in the Vahavu Restaurant, overlooking the adults-only pool.
During cocktail hour, Ciaran and I snuck away for a private photo session with our brilliant photographer. This was such a special time to just focus on the two of us and to explore some more local sites along the coast of Fiji.
Our photographer was Reenal via Videoticz Fiji, and our videographer was Nitin through Rolling Moments Fiji. We weren’t so certain about having a videographer to begin with, but are so happy we organised this in the end. It was very special to have footage of the day to show family who couldn’t make it to Fiji.
In keeping with the Fiji wedding, the reception and decorations were of a tropical flavour. Think lots of local flowers and fairy lights. Planning an overseas wedding did have its stressful moments at times, particularly with some slow email communication. After all, they are on Fiji Time. But hey, no hurry, no worry, right?!
The Outrigger took care of most details, so we didn’t have to fill up our luggage with too many decorations! As it was a destination wedding, we prepared personalised welcome bags for guests full of goodies and information about the wedding week. The wedding favours were personalised Tic Tacs, and we had a Polaroid guest book.
Our pet dogs mean the world to us, but obviously they couldn’t be in Fiji for the special occasion. The cake topper was a silhouette of a Pointer and a married couple, and the table numbers were photos of each of the dogs! Furthermore, the dogs featured in the best man’s speech, a hilarious moment.
My father and I danced to ‘Unforgettable’ by Nat King Cole feat. Natalie Cole.
It took a long time to agree on a song for the first dance, as we have very different music tastes! Ciaran has experience as a DJ and made a mix of ‘Feel So Close’ by Nelly Furtado, which dropped midway into the Calvis Harris version…Cue a spontaneous flash-mob of guests on the dance floor, such a great moment!
Overall, I enjoyed the 12 month+ process of planning the wedding. The Facebook page for Outrigger brides was a godsend! I really enjoyed reading the wedding reviews on this page and getting tips from other brides about vendors to use.
With the Outrigger wedding package, we had the amazing wedding coordinator Va who was always available to chat to and support the planning, both in Australia and once we arrived in Fiji. Va certainly came to our aid on the wedding day too, keeping my veil in place and everything running on time!
A destination wedding really isn’t that scary or stressful to plan. It certainly helps if you have a wedding coordinator involved, and lots of resort based weddings offer this! Also, do your homework beforehand around the additional paperwork and legal requirements required for marrying overseas.
In terms of travelling with a wedding dress, I had no drama at all, but it pays to ring the airline in advance and have a chat. Most airlines are happy to hang your dress in the business class area for example… if you ask nicely!