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Laura had recently been to Namale Fiji resort on a business trip and knew, after seeing the exquisite property and meeting with the extraordinary people, that this was the perfect place to say “I do” all over again. “Originally this was a surprise for my husband – I had thought about when he had originally proposed to me on his birthday and he said the most important thing he could ever ask for was to get married to me,” she said. “That was 20 years ago and I wanted to give back. And what a romantic destination it is!”
Andrew had originally taken the helm of planning their wedding way back when so, to mark his 50th birthday, Laura wanted to make it extra special. “I told him I was going to surprise him with a trip but I made him wait for the longest time to know where… a month prior to his birthday I told him we were going to Fiji and he was very excited,” she said.
Laura had arranged with the Namale Fiji to have a surprise renewal of vows a few days after they arrived. “It’s such a special place – they’re all so ‘to the heart.’ I thought it would match what I was trying to bring in emotion and the true feeling of what I wanted to happen. It was the right people and place. All of their people come and sing a welcome song, and right off the bat you feel like family. They put you in a golf cart and take you to your unit. And this whole time my husband is thinking, ‘What is this all about?’ He thought his birthday surprise was the villa, a fabulous villa where the first thing you see is the water and it’s a free-form layout over the ocean, but he didn’t know what was really in store for our trip. It was wonderful because the owner happened to be there when we arrived and he saw my husband’s excitement and it was the joy of this place that just blew him away,” she said, crying.
It was a few days later and Andrew’s birthday was approaching, and he was still completely unaware of the renewal of vows. “So I said to him one afternoon, ‘20 years ago you asked me to marry you and you’ve been such a great man, I wanted to ask to marry you on your birthday.’ And he looked at me like, ‘No, you’re kidding.’ So I said, ‘I would really like to remarry so I’m asking you, would you marry me?’ And he started to cry and said, ‘Of course.’”
Laura wore a very simple white dress and the resort had made flowers for her head. The vow renewal was much like that of a traditional Fijian wedding, and it took place in a cavern on the resort’s grounds near a waterfall. “The whole village showed up and the choir from their local church sang in the cavern – their singing sounded like angels. The water was pouring down. It was the most phenomenonal thing,” the former-bride gushed. “Andrew couldn’t believe what was going on. It was emotional and spiritual, everything I planned it to be and more.”
Originally Laura wasn’t going to hire a photographer. “It was about the moment and it just being he and I, but the photographer happened to be the manager’s daughter – she was 16 and great,” she said. “Some of these pictures are amazing!”
The Namale Fiji will set up different dinners at different spots on the resort that are completely private, so Laura arranged for a dinner that was set up over the ocean and included a hot tub. “Every night after that you could have a dinner on the beach or cavern, so I set up all these private things for us,” Laura said. “It was amazing.”
They also experienced a lot of local culture. “The minister invited us up to the village area in the mountains, so we went up there and gave a donation to the community,” she explained. “We also brought things for the kids, and we got to see more about how their people lived. We went to church there as well.”
In the end, Laura and Andrew revelled in the reconnection that they felt, not only to each other but to their destination, which welcomed them with open arms and hearts. It was an experience she has trouble fully articulating. “This was done for the true value of love and respect and going forward in our lives. It was about us reconnecting, and I knew Fiji was the place. Their people are all about family and community. The vow renewal came from a simple experience in the beginning of my life and here we are, 20 years later, bringing it to a place that represented the soul of what I wanted to create for us going forward. I don’t know … It’s hard to talk about the whole experience because it’s the feeling in your heart.”
To book your Fijian destination wedding or honeymoon, contact your Ensemble® DestinationVows Specialist today.