Honeymooners

When it comes to food for the soul, head to Coco Beach Spa where internationally trained therapists deftly perform massage, therapy and beauty treatments. Honeymooners often partake of the “With Love From Coconuts” package that includes soothing massages followed by a soak in the flowerfilled pool while sipping champagne.

No holiday is complete without great dining, and Mika’s Restaurant provides that, and more. Mike Pirics (Mika in Samoan) was a culinary genius. He sadly passed away recently, but his legacy lives on with plates of fresh, innovative island cuisine amazing guests daily. You’re welcome to join others in the main dining room or enjoy a little more privacy with a table in the sand with only the stars for company.

The actively inclined can make use of complimentary snorkel gear, go kayaking in the lagoon or the neighbouring mangroves, or try your hand at stand up paddle boarding. On Saturdays don’t miss the Samoan Culture Day activities that include story telling and demonstrations by the staff and a visit to the neighbouring village. The staff can also guide avid surfers to the best breaks; guided surf tours are available and you can hop in the boat right at the resort’s beach.

Weddings and honeymoons are a true celebration at Coconuts. Ask any of the team and they’ll tell you that “Coconuts loves Honeymooners … and Honeymooners love Coconuts”.

Let them know you’re a honeymooning couple and you’ll enjoy an island fruit plate on arrival, a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers in your room. You’ll also be gifted two hand-painted t-shirts and a hand-painted kava ceremonial cup. A special treat are the Honeymoon Ramos Fizzes, a breakfast cocktail, and a hand-woven floral head tiara.

Coconuts Beach Club Resort and Spa truly is what Samoa is all about … relaxation, serenity, peace, harmony and pampering.

COCONUTS BEACH CLUB RESORT & SPA

Coconuts Beach Club Resort & Spa truly embodies all that is unique and wonderful about culturally-rich Samoa. Ideally situated on Upolu’s southern coast, enjoying amazing sunrise and sunset views, the resort is inspired by it’s South Pacific location and boasts Samoa’s only over water fales (bungalows).

You won’t find a TV in your room, and there’s no phone. This is a resort where you can really get away from it all and rejoice in each other – a distinctive, relaxing, romantic and casually elegant experience. It’s the sort of place where, on arrival, you kick off your shoes and remove your watch.

Accommodations come in four styles. There are six beach fales complete with thatched roofs that are located just metres from the water’s edge. These have large lounges, a spacious covered terrace, al fresco bathrooms with lava rock walls and waterfall showers. The suites offer up fantastic views with the treehouse variety being extremely popular. Slate, hardwood and expansive decks with loungers and hammocks are complimented by a two-person tub with a view.

The three Royal Beach Villas are the most spacious in Samoa. Two are single level while the third is an immense two level gem. The exterior walls are constructed of timber poles and glass, and they enjoy 180 degree views. These villas, while private, may also be booked as an entire suite.

And then there are the over water fales – what could be more romantic for honeymooners than hearing the waves lapping below as you drift off to sleep. The six fales have been designed so that each enjoys the ultimate in privacy while still oozing breathtaking sunset vistas, beach and ocean views. Enjoy relaxing on your private deck in a comfy lounger, or open up the full length sliding doors and stay in bed much longer than intended. The open air bathrooms are unique and ingenious.

WEDDINGS ABROAD

You’ve no doubt seen glorious wedding photographs plastered over social media. The most recent which blew me away are shots by Charleton Churchill of James and Ashley, the first couple to exchange vows at the Mt Everest base camp in a wedding gown and tux. I’ve never seen a more breath-taking set of images. The scenery was overwhelming! It got me thinking though, about the time and effort that all three of them (and I’m sure many more) put into the planning of this adventurous wedding. In his blog he mentions how they trained for a year in preparation for the big event!

So, is a wedding abroad really all its hyped up to be? If you’re contemplating a wedding in an exotic land, then Ithere are a few things to consider in preparation.

The Legal Documentation Depending on which country you’re eyeing up to get married in, it’s always worth firing up the internet and browsing for the legalities of that country – and ensure the site is current. It would be a heart breaking tale if you tied the knot, and then found out that the marriage was void because the country’s policies were not followed. When in doubt, you can always contact the country’s embassy, and request all the information you will need.

Planning Many people have shared stories in the past about using wedding planners, or planning it themselves. So which one is right for you?

While it might be exciting to plan things yourself, take into consideration the following points.

Firstly, do you speak, or can you communicate in, the native language of the country you are visiting, and will you be comfortable contacting local suppliers?

Perhaps take some time to visit the location you are thinking of to get an understanding of where the localities are. For example the hotels, the markets, or even the local church, should you need it.

If this is a country you’ve never visited before, and it’s not within your budget or available time frame for a pre-wedding visit, you might be best to book things through a wedding travel specialist.

Do you have the necessary budget? It might be an obvious question, but ensure you have plenty of expenditure in case you need to spend more than you were hoping. It would be tragic if you ran into any issues and didn’t have any funds in reserve to cover it.

If you were to use a wedding travel specialist, you could discuss things like insurance and other safeguards, as well as feeling secure in the knowledge that someone is doing the tedious legwork for you. While there is a cost usually for their services, these wedding travel specialist will have the professional skills to organise an incredible wedding, without you having to lift a finger. You can also check if particular resorts have their own in-house wedding planners. Both wedding travel specialist and weddign planners can assist you with the necessary legal documentation, which they will submit and file at the correct times.

The Outfit The smaller accessories of your wedding outfit will be easy to take with you. Wedding shoes, jewellery, headpieces etc can fit comfortably into your luggage. An ornate wedding dress is another story – there’s bound to be an extra cost for the excess weight. So consider your style of dress carefully if you intend to travel with it. Otherwise, an alternative could be purchasing the dress at the location. If you were visiting the locality on a recce visit, you may be able to select a dress at a shop and have it fitted. That way the dress will be waiting for you when you arrive.

The Party One of the biggest concerns for a wedding abroad are the guests. Amazing as it would be to be able to fly everyone with you on one budget, its frankly, out of reach for most couples. So compiling a guest list is essential. It might be that for the ceremony abroad, you only invite close family, and have a second celebration at home at a later date. Be sure to give invited guests plenty of notice, and even go as far as suggesting hotels in the surrounding area and providing price comparisons. It might make it easier for them to say yes!

Finally, take into consideration any holidays, either at home or at your wedding destination. A wedding during an annual fesitval sounds like fun, but you should understand that it might be difficult in terms of suppliers as well as accommodation availability.

Leave no stone unturned when planning for this day, even if you are using a wedding planner. Bounce ideas around and ask questions of them – it will give you peace of mind and help to create the perfect wedding abroad!

MAKING THINGS UNIQUE

The Wine Box Before your big day, gather a wooden box, a bottle of wine and two glasses. Write love notes to each other. Seal your letter without letting your betrothed read what you’ve written. During the ceremony, place the love notes inside the wooden box with the wine and glasses. Take turns hammering the box shut. Agree to keep the box sealed until a special anniversary, or at least until you hit a rough patch … then, break open the box, pour the wine, read the letters, and remember what it’s all about!

Tying the Knot Keen boaties, or those who love spending time on the water, can use this nautical symbolism to represent what you know and love. The knot is called the “true lovers’ knot” – the strongest there is; it will not break, and will only become stronger when under pressure. The rope itself will likely break before the knot comes undone. Your celebrant should present the rope during the ceremony, before the vows are said, and the couple would tie their nautical knot together. The finished knot symbolises your future, and how your love and marriage will continue to be strong, despite any trials life may throw your way. This knot could be framed and placed on the wall at home as a reminder of the strength of your love and commitment in marriage.

Toast If you often set aside time at the end of your day to enjoy a cold beer, then it might be appropriate then to clink bottles at the end of the ceremony and share your first beersies together. Similarly, you might be wine connoisseurs, in which case you might like to open a bottle of your favourite wine to toast each other with. If you’re a couple known for your celebrations, perhaps you’ll want shake up a magnum of champagne at the end of the ceremony and pop it in celebration. Another idea is to include the whole audience in offering a toast. You would toast each other as husband and wife, the audience would turn to the person next to them clink glasses and say cheers and then all raise their glasses in a toast to the happy couple.

Candle Lighting There are many ways you can shine the light of love on your ceremony. It might be appropriate to recognise loved ones who couldn’t be there by lighting a candle of remembrance, acknowledging that while not there, they are not forgotten. I utilise an enclosed lantern for this purpose, so that the candle can be lit outside or inside. Candles can also be used to represent the unity that marriage brings, and are a great way of incorporating family into the ceremony and honouring them. Mums could come forward and light taper candles, one representing each family. Then the couple would take each lit candle and together light the Unity candle, symbolising their love and commitment to walk together on the same path in marriage; two families and two separate earlier paths becoming one.

Ring Warming This is simply an opportunity for your guests to offer their love and well wishes to your marriage. Very early in the proceedings, the rings will be passed around and each guest will hold the rings and offer their silent wishes. In essence, the rings are warmed by the loving energy and support of your family and friends that you then wear for a lifetime.

There are some wonderful ways you can create and craft your ceremony with meaning. Look for ways that reflect your relationship and who you are as a couple in your ceremony.

VOWS THAT WOW

One of the key components of the day, and what truly makes your day special, are the vows that you share. It’s the one time during the ceremony where people really will be listening intently as you say those heartfelt words to your partner.

There are typically four standard questions I get asked around vows and I’m going to answer these for you:

What structure works best?

The form or structure that I believe works well and represents a good example is the following:

I, Name, take you, Name, to be my wife, my partner in life and my soul mate. I will treasure our friendship and love you today, tomorrow, and forever. I will trust you and respect you. I will laugh with you and cry with you. I will love you faithfully and unconditionally through the best and the worst, the difficult and the easy. Whatever may come, I promise I will always be there for you.

The above is an example that follows the structure of :

• Legal – Legally you are required to say I take you to be my husband / wife

• Promises – what you will do in the marriage.

In addition to the above, you could add:

• Something personal about your bride / groom along the lines of – “Life wouldn’t be so fun and interesting if it wasn’t for you” .

• Humour into the promises – “I promise to always put the toilet seat down”.

The key is to make sure your vows are concise, hold meaning and are personal.

Do I have to memorise my vows?

No, it’s not a great idea. In my years of experience as a celebrant, there has only been one bride who successfully memorised her vows. If you are confident speaking, then I recommed you say your vows to each other holding one another’s hand; the other hand holds a cue card with the vows on, to refer to if you need to. The alternative would be to repeat your vows after the celebrant. However, I only recommend this to those who are not confident as it can sound repetitive, especially if the same vow is written by the bride as the groom.

Should I write my own vows?

The majority of couples I meet with want to write their own with guidance. There are a plethora of research avenues on bridal websites and blogs. Additionally, your celebrant will provide a few ideas or samples to get you started with writing your own. I always collaborate with my couples as to how they want to approach their vows.

Do we say the same vows or write them in secret?

This is your one opportunity to share your vows and promises with your partner in your own words. That said, it is important to chat to your partner about the key promises that you want to make to each other in marriage. You need to both be on the same page! You may decide to write the bulk of the vows together, with a few personal lines separately; or to completely write them on your own and send them to your celebrant separately to be shared with each other on the day for the first time.

Your vows are an important aspect of your day, as well as of your life together as husband and wife. Take the time to make them words to live by!

SONGS OR MUSIC YOUR CHOICE!

Gone are the days when your only option for your grand entrance was a bridal march. While this traditional piece of music still has its place, today’s wedding music selections are extensive. Songs do tend to have their own expiry date, with favourites like Beautiful Day finishing every ceremony in one wedding season. A great combination of songs can make or break a wedding, the lyrics setting the tone for the celebration and reflecting you as a couple.

Where do you start if you don’t have a special song that means something to you, the one you both listened to when you first met or a tune that reminds you of a key milestone in your relationship? We often suggest our clients think about what songs they’ve heard at other weddings that stood out. Perhaps there’s a special song your parents had at their wedding. You can search Top 20 wedding songs on the internet and, while you do risk generating lists from everything including Celine Dion to Elton John, there is plenty of inspiration out there to help with what’s current.

Another important thing to consider is whether the music is appropriate for the style of your wedding; does it fit your personalities and who you are as a couple; are the songs long enough to get everyone down the aisle or do you need two separate pieces of music?

There are usually four key pieces of music selected for a wedding:

• The bridesmaids’ and bride’s entrance – a meaningful and slow piece is usually chosen. There can be two songs if the bride would like her own entrance song.

• Signing of the marriage licence – often two songs at least due to the length of time taken for everyone to do the officials.

• Procession at the conclusion of the ceremony – this should be upbeat and set the tone for forthcomnig celebration.

• First Dance – well, there are no rules for this one – it all depends on what magically choreographed routine you’ve managed to perfect!

Some couples also opt for a song announcing their arrival at the reception, however this is not always a must have.

FIRST DANCE

If a choreographed first dance is good enough for Justin Timerblake, surely you should consider it, too? Just like Justin, you can keep your lessons a secret from everyone else … and then blow their socks off on the big day!

Sophie Day, author of The Secret Quintessentially Weddings Guide, said at the time that Timberlake could revolutionise the stereotype of a quick shuffle around the floor for first dances.

“While even the likes of President Obama and even Mick Jagger have been described as ‘dad dancers’, a little coaching can get your groom up to Timberlake standard in no time,” she said. “It’s all about confidence and the best way to grow confidence is with lessons.”

Karen Hardy, Strictly Come Dancing champion, put together the following top tips for grooms looking to avoid ‘dad dancing’ and err on the side of smooth.

• Move naturally and with confidence to start with. Don’t risk your more unbridled moves until the cheers say you should.

• A drink or partner in one hand is often useful as then you only have to think about the one other flailing.

• If you’re going for natty older rocker, think Bruce/The Boss rather than Jagger for tight shoulder shrugs, standing with your legs slightly apart in an upturned V shape, and tap alternate legs. Perhaps lace it with the odd hip wiggle and nod of the head.

• Footwork should be sophisticated and light, but not fey. When you get to the point where you want to add a flourish, go with a subtle spin with your right foot tucked in front of your left, and propel with the balls of your feet. You want Astaire rather than Fagin here.

• Keep your core strong, and your knees relaxed to stop you looking too rigid.

If in doubt at any time, just think “what would Tom Ford, George Clooney or Bryan Ferry do? ”

VOWS

VOWS Perhaps the most important words the bride and groom will ever speak out loud, in front of witnesses, are your vows. Make them personal, make them about you!

Do you want traditional vows that see you taking each other for better or for worse, or would you prefer something totally unique? If you’re writing it from scratch, treat it as you would a short story … have an introduction, a middle section and a closing. Start with your partner’s name and what they mean to you. The middle is where you can talk about why you love them. The closing will be your promise to your partner going forward.

THE SCENE Have you planned your reception and ceremony completely? There are endless checklists for these available on the internet … lights, music, cars, photographer, flowers, cake ….. no doubt you have a few that you’re already ticking off.

On the day, appoint a few close friends or family members who can welcome your guests, get them a drink if appropriate, or usher them to their seats. If your parents aren’t assisting you with dressing, they often love getting involved here. If you’re doing a rehearsal, make sure all those who will be involved are in attendance – ushers, greeters, etc.

Consider guest comfort, particularly if your wedding is standing-only, say at the beach. Standing for long periods of time can be tiring on elderly relatives, especially if it’s hot. Always provide a few fold up chairs!

There’s fashionably late … and then there’s LATE!

Our final note is this … once the day arrives relax! You’ve done all you can to make the day special, now you need to chill and enjoy it. Talk to friend who have married and they’ll all tell you the same thing : the day goes by in a blur. Take time to savour precious moments, try to spend a little time chatting to all your guests, find a quiet corner where you and your newlywed can be alone for five minutes.

Reflections of love

Reflections of love

Mirrors are a wonderful way of adding a little extra sparkle to special occasions. You can use them as the base to centrepieces, allowing them to reflect light if candles are placed on them. Even outdoor weddings have been known to benefit from the addition of mirrors … and this Barlow mirror has beautiful tones that will tie in with any theme.

Once home, the bronze tones would look fabulous as an addition to just about any colour scheme.

Going Zen

These Stoneleigh & Roberson Zen Candle has a heavenly gardenia fragrance. The organic ceramic pot and muted grey and white colours will suit rustic weddings as easly as a more contemporary setting.

Plus, with a burn time of 50 hours, they’ll be sure to last for home use long after the wedding!

Going Tropo

Wanted a Fiji wedding, but logistics said no? Bring the beach to your wedding by placing a few of these Mini Palms around the venue.

At just under a metre in height, they’d look amazing at the start of your aisle, or on either side of your bridal arch.

Apart from adding a tropical touch, they could be used to screen unsightly areas of the venue.

At home, they can be used in the living, bedrooms or office … they’re easy maintenance with just a light dusting now and again.

Table Talk

The Sawyer side table is the perfect accompaniment to Moroccon-themed weddings. Imagine a fringed marquee overhead, ornate rugs underfoot, lavish lounge pillows and beanbags in abundance, richly toned candles and a fire pit nearby …. simply divine!

At home, they’re perfect for living spaces or as bedside tables.

Light things up

We’re always on the lookout for new ways to showcase tealights … and we love this set of three Vela candle holders in varying heights. Clustered in a group, they’d make a sensational addition to your tablescape, their soft green and white tones matching any florals.

Scented Genius

Aromage Scented Diffusers come in a variety of fragrances. Choose your favourite to dot around the wedding reception venue. After the party, just pop the reeds out, seal the bottle and they’ll keep perfectly until you get back from honeymoon. The aromas in your home will softly remind you of your fabulous wedding day for weeks to come.

Serve them in style

This Finn serving board would look fabulous laden with cheese and crackers at your reception.

It could also be used as a base to your centrepiece, dotted with flowers, candles, luscious fruit etc.

On show

Many couples dot photos of their premarried life around the reception, some using them as table identifiers. They’re also a fabulous way to having a deceased family member present on the day!

Chances are you’re going to need a few photo frames for your favourite wedding pics … and some like to give filled frames as gifts to family as a momento of the wedding.

Rack it up

Cool weather weddings will see guests wearing jackets and coats. If your venue doesn’t offer somewhere safe to hang them all, consider a coat stand or two to place near the entrance to your reception.

After the wedding, they can be used near your front door for your own jackets and coats, and even in the bedroom or walk-in robe for handbags. They’re also fabulous in bathrooms or near the pool for towels!

Hanging Out

If your venue has rafters or beams, try these Liam hanging pots (come in a set of two). Fill them with a draping plant such as ivory, and then add battery operated bud lights for a real touch of magic.

At home, they’ll do hours of duty in the kitchen if filled with herbs. Or keep the same ivory going and hang them in the bathroom. They can also be utilised outdoors, so don’t forget the patio or balcony!

KIDS’ TABLES WEDDINGS

Keep the little ones entertained with some forethought … and you’ll have a far more relaxed wedding.

Colouring books and crayons, drawing pads, chalk boards and colourful chalks are all great ways to keep kids amused. Family friendly restaurants often have paper tablecloths that kids can draw directly onto … get them all scribbling away and you could end up with a work of art!

Stack up a variety of board games, the type obviously dependant upon the age of the kids. Jigsaw puzzles could also be appropriate for slightly older ones.

If there are only a few kids, you could personalise a play pack for each one, including games and activities that are age sensitive, or perhaps apply to specific hobbies you know they love.

How about thinking outside the square with a personalised “I Spy” or treasure hunt game. Sure, it will take you a little while to think of things that you know will happen during the day (the first kiss, a specific toast, a certain song playing) for your I Spy thriller, but it will keep their attention fixed on what’s going on. For the treasure hunt, you’ll have to know the venue, perhaps visiting the day before to set up treasure tokens. How about a dispoable camera each to snap the I Spy moment, or the treasure hunt clue.

Keep them happy with kid-friendly food. Don’t expect three year olds to enjoy the fine dining adult fare! Hotdogs, burgers, skewered fresh fruit, sandwiches – these are likely to go down a whole lot better than suckling pork! And don’t forget to provide healthy beverage options – too much fizz and you could have a miniature John Travolta on the dancefloor!

If you have a photoboth, allocate kiddie props, too … and perhaps even allocate a set half hour or so for them to go crazy in it.

Activities like hula hoops, life size chess or Jenga, croquet or petanque have the added bonus of attracting adults on and off over the course of the day.