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Fiji was the destination, COVID had other plans!

Originally planning to have their Wedding at the Outrigger in Fiji, Michelle and her Hubby to be, wanted the small destination wedding. However, due to COVID-19 they are now getting married in NZ and are increasing the guest list to be surrounded by more friends and family on their big day! We asked Michelle a series of questions about planning a wedding during a pandemic, read on to hear more about her Wedding planning journey!

When did you first get engaged? June 2019  

What was your original wedding date? 16th October 2021 

What were the first things you organised for your wedding? Venue and photographer. Because weddings are so popular in Fiji, you have to book early to get a date you want. Once the venue was chosen, we booked in the photographer we wanted too before they were booked out.

How many people did you plan on having, what was important to you about your day? Initially it was only around 50-60 people, however, that quickly grew to 80 as we realised there was people we had missed. To us having our friends and family with us on our big day was most important. 

Somewhere along the way, Covid obviously arose, if your date was arranged pre covid were you worried that it might be impacted once covid hit, or did it still seem far away at that point? Covid hit about 8 months after we got engaged and 6 months after we had paid deposits for Fiji. At the time we didn’t think much of it, but in August last year we realised that it wasn’t going away, and a few friends had lost their jobs. So, at that time we made the decision to push our wedding out until June 2022, giving people more time to save so they could come over to Fiji, and allow for Covid to calm down or ideally be gone by then. 

When did you decide to call off the overseas Wedding? In June this year as Covid in Fiji became out of control and my mum became sick, we made the decision to cancel Fiji and move our wedding home to NZ. Having our family and friends at our wedding is the most important part for us and having it here in NZ allows for more family and friends to attend.

How far into planning your Wedding did you have to cancel? Did you loose any deposits? Lucky not too far through. Because our wedding was still a year and a half out when Covid hit, we had only arranged some of the larger things. Some of the smaller parts hadn’t been planned. We are extremely lucky that our venue has given us our full deposit back. Our photographer and makeup artist have put our deposits into credits so that we can have some nice photos taken when we do go over to Fiji (hopefully for our honeymoon).

Had you sent out save the date or Wedding invitations? Yes, we had done two lots of save the dates. Thankfully we have decided to not to change our second date, so we don’t need to do some more. But We had designed a wedding website, so we have had to update all the information on there.

How did you feel knowing that you weren’t able to have an overseas and/or destination Wedding? It was more important for us to have all our family and friends at our wedding, and although we are gutted, we are excited that we know we will be getting married next year. 

Did you immediately look for Wedding Venues in NZ, or were plans ‘up in the air’ for a while?In the back of my mind (from when Covid hit) I was always looking at NZ venue options just in case Because I’m from the South Island and my fiancé is from the north island, we always wondered where in NZ we would get married. In May i asked a few friends if they were to get married again or married, where would they do it, and that gave me a few locations we hadn’t even heard of. Within 3 hours (yes, 3 hours) of deciding to cancel Fiji, we had chosen a new venue to go look at and 3 days later we paid a deposit for that venue. 

What did you do (or plan to do) on your original wedding date? It’s actually our groomsmen’s birthday on our original date so we are heading off on a holiday with him and his family. 

Did you change your mind about anything in the interim or change anything about your day, apart from Locations! Maybe size etc I’ve pretty much changed everything. We are going from having a smaller beach wedding to a larger “winter” wedding. My colour scheme, decorations, wedding dress and guest list are all very different to our original plans. Thankfully I had only found but not ordered by wedding dress. 

Besides your postponement, has Covid affected anything else in your life? A week after we decided to postpone our wedding, we found out we were pregnant. I was told from a very young age, due to medical complications I have, it would be very unlikely for me to fall pregnant. We hadn’t been trying long but I believe the reduced stress and slower pace of life due to Covid lockdowns allowed for that to happen naturally. We are now excited to have a 1-year-old at our wedding next year and to be there on our special day. 

What advice would you give to anyone else who’s planning in a pandemic? Is there anything you’d do differently, or anything you’ve learned along the way that you’d share with others?Don’t stress over things you can’t control, be patient and trust your gut. Don’t try and organise a wedding around what might happen. Plan your big day based off what you really want and if it gets postponed then it wasn’t meant to happen on that day. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and for us we obviously weren’t meant to get married in Fiji but have everyone around us here in NZ. Most vendors are aware that Covid makes things unpredictable now and are very flexible to work with you on making your big day possible. 

If you loved this, see our beautiful Fijian destination elopement feature (preview below).


If after reading this, you would like to share your own Wedding Planning experience during the COVID-19 Pandemic, send me an email at megan@forgetmenotjournals.com, I’d love to hear from you!

An Stunning Alternative Fiji Elopement by Van Middleton

If you have been thinking about eloping or celebrating your wedding day in Fiji, today’s alternative love story will make it a done deal! This intimate elopement is not your average resort wedding, with gorgeous couple Belinda + Eddie embracing Fijian culture and local community before taking a swim fully kitted out in wedding gear! The stunning images by Van Middleton and this breathtaking film by Asher King will wow you all the way to the islands and back, and I’m now desperate to get by passport renewed for a Fijian adventure! Enjoy xox

Who Just the two of us (Belinda + Eddie)
Where Savusavu, Fiji

We splurged on… an amazing destination elopement. We wanted to do something that was just for us, to celebrate our love for each other and to minimize stress during an otherwise extremely challenging time in our life.

We shared our experience with our family and friends when we returned, in a quiet and special way. Our photographer and videographer made it easy for us to share our experience with those with love.

Our advice to engaged couples is to not ask for too many opinions when planning your special day, choosing your dress, or any other detail of your wedding. Find your inner voice, work our what you want together, and stick to it.

CREDITS

Photographer Van Middleton
Videograper Asher King (see the film here)
Planner Filo at Namale Resort & Spa
Hair + Makeup Felice (arranged via Namale Resort & Spa)
Brides Dress Martina Liana
Brides Shoes Grace Loves Lace
Groom Jacket, shoes, pants and shirt from Calibre
Music Local Fijian choir
Earrings Nicole Fendel
Church St Andrews Parish, Savusavu