Feb 152012
L - Fiji child singing 1772
By Denise Mattia

The beat of the lali drum pierces the silence of the late afternoon air.  Voices are raised in joyful a cappella song.  Two buff-looking warriors carry a young woman down the beach on a bamboo bili bili adorned with tropical flowers.  Blasts from the davui shell announce her arrival.  A Fijian wedding ceremony is about to begin.

If you’re looking for a beautiful white beach with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop to tie the knot, and a variety of activities to do during their stay, exotic Fiji is the place of your dreams.  Following are resorts that cater to weddings and have planners on the premises to arrange the necessary formalities as well.

Located at Savusavu Bay on the island of Vanua Levu, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort is an award-winning five-star luxury lodge with gourmet dining and world-class snorkeling and diving.  The Grand (Vaku Mau Levo), Special (Vaka Mau Lai Lai) and Intimate (Vaka Mau Levu Lai Lai) wedding ceremonies include a variety of rites:  songs and dances known as Meke, celebratory Kava (a drink from the Yaqona root) and special dinners.  You can be rowed across the bay on a bamboo bili bili as well.  The Honeymoon Point Reef Bure with Spa Tub is an elegant, one-of-a-kind suite featuring air conditioning in the rooms and a private spa tub on the deck overlooking the sea.  Dinners are offered on the deck, and a private gourmet picnic lunch with Champagne can be arranged on Naviavia Island.  The little island is reached by the resort’s ferry or, if you’re adventuresome, by kayak.

There are several luxury resorts located along the Coral Coast, on the island of Viti Levu.  The boutique beachfront Hideaway Resort and Spa offers recently renovated Deluxe Bures that have king size beds, ensuite and private outdoor showers and beachfront decks.  General manager John McFadden was asked for a general figure for an all-inclusive wedding.  His guesstimate, which included accommodations for eight couples, the resort’s in-house wedding planner, the ceremony (the bride is carried down the beach on a bed of flowers) and most meals for approximately seven days was under $20,000 U.S.  (Prices vary according to the season, rate exchange and availability.)  Optional activities include snorkeling and scuba diving a few minutes from shore, surfing and local tours.

About 45 minutes drive from Suva. Viti Levu’s capital, The Pearl South Pacific offers chic accommodation, excellent cuisine and wedding packages.  Only one ceremony is performed per day.  In addition to the Simple or Standard Weddings, the Pearl also offers the Deluxe Wedding, which includes a dedicated hotel wedding coordinator, hairstylists and make-up for both the bride and groom, His & Hers 30 minute Swedish massage, the wedding venue with a decorated arch of tropical flowers, a bouquet for the bride and corsage for the groom, the celebrant or minister, a choir and photographer during the ceremony and the registration and specially made Tapa marriage certificate.  Optional activities include spa treatments, scuba diving (the famous shark dive is close by), an 18-hole golf course, white water rafting and fishing.

The Likuliku Resort on the island of Manlolo, west of Viti Levu, offers wedding packages, which include leis, bure flower decorations, a bottle of French Champagne on arrival, escort and a transfer to the Nadi Registry office, registration and documentation fee, ceremony venue, minister or celebrant fee, transfers, meals and a framed wedding certificate.  Their packages are based on a minimum five-night stay.  Accommodations range from ten exclusive, over-water bures and 18 stunning Deluxe Beachfront bures (these are split-level suites) and beautifully appointed Beachfront bures facing the sea.  Island hopping, wind-surfing, game fishing and scuba diving activities are available.

The Beqa (pronounced Benga) Lagoon Resort lies off the southeast coast of Viti Levu.  The 25 private air-conditioned bures, some with private plunge pools on the sun deck, are spacious and luxurious.  Prices for weddings on this tiny island start from around $250 U.S.  The top of the line Orchid Wedding (around $1,500 U.S.) can be held on the premises or at the local church.  Included in this package are the minister or celebrant, an award-winning choir, flower girls, a bridal orchid bouquet, the traditional Fijian Flower arbor, a wedding cake and champagne, the Kava ceremony, drummers, warriors and leis.  Spa services are available at an additional cost.  Only water sports and fishing are available at this resort, making it ideal for the newlyweds who want seclusion and the thrill of scuba diving at their doorstep. (You can also call 1-800-542-3454.)

For a high-end ($1,500 U.S.) wedding, the Taveuni Island Resort and Spa offers a Traditional Fijian Vaka-Viti Wedding Package.  Included is the registration fee, transport to/from the Registration Office, the minister or marriage officer, floral decorations for the your choice of venue at the resort, a double tier wedding cake, a Fijian night of dinner cooked in the earth oven (Lovo), a choir for the service, two warriors to escort the bride, a Meke night, floral decorations in a choice of venue, a bouquet, tiara, boutonniere and lei for the couple, a 60-minute massage and a champagne picnic lunch at an outer island.  The couple has an option of wearing the traditional Fijian painted bark cloth known as Tapa.  Other wedding packages are available.  Optional activities include scuba diving, fishing, trekking, garden tours, golf and tennis.

In order to insure the perfect wedding, make sure that you have current passports, birth certificates, proof of annulment or divorce and, if the previous spouse is deceased, a death certificate.  Weddings are performed by a minister, priest or celebrant.  Marriage licenses are arranged at the islands District Offices at least 36 hours in advance and only by appointment during normal office hours.  The resort will forward a list of requirements and services they offer to visitors intending to get married in Fiji.

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