FLOWER GIRL IN FIJI
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji is an ideal kids’ destination, but it’s the perfect place for a family wedding, too.
Little girls love playing bridesmaid and little boys make great mini groomsmen, too. When the wedding takes place on an idyllic tropical island, then the experience is even more special. Lucky Grace Regan-Naituyaga got the chance to play flower girl in Fiji when her mother got married at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort.
Grace was involved in the planning from the start, explains her mother, Helen Regan: “Grace played a huge part in our plans. She is pineapple crazy, from pineapple-print T-shirts to pencil cases. I didn’t want to take away the natural beauty of the private island. I wanted it to say ‘Fiji’, so Grace and I had 50 pineapples hung from trees and planted on bamboo pillars.” Her daughter also loves dream catchers and the family love picnics. So, naturally, the reception was a picnic on a hillside looking over the water, with mats and lace cushions and dream catchers gently blowing in the wind.
The children dressed up in traditional tapa (the bark of the mulberry tree, stencilled with traditional motifs) and were barefoot as they led the bride down the path. The children also welcomed the guests on to the private island, handing out fans and sunglasses to wear.
The advantage of having a wedding at such a family–friendly luxury resort was the extra help available. For example, during the reception, nannies from the Bula Club were available to look after the younger children. Throughout the evening, they danced and played together, and even cheered on the children during the fireworks.
The ‘honeymoon’ holiday in Fiji postwedding can be pretty special for guests, too. “The Fijians just ooze fun personalities and fun times,” says Helen. “Family is very important to them.”
The nannies and buddies in the Bula
Club helped the children of guests, aged 12 and under, have a special time, even after the wedding. They did everything from making swords to bamboo rafts. They went swimming with Nemo and saw turtles with the resident marine biologist as part of The School Under the Sea program. Parents and family were able to reconnect as kids unplugged from iPads and connected with nature instead. “They get the sand between their toes and hang out with happy people,” says Helen.
The wedding ceremony also helps
children understand a different culture, since
Fijian traditions can be incorporated into
the ceremony and reception. Couples are
married on colourful Fijian woven wedding
mats called ibes. At Jean-Michel Cousteau
resort there are also warriors to escort the
bride aboard a bilibili (bamboo raft), Fijian
singing flowers, coconut cocktails and a
kava ceremony after the ceremony at sunset.
There are also some idyllic spots for dreamy
wedding photos. “We were photographed
on sandy beaches, coral outcrops and even
underwater,” says Helen.
Wedding and rituals
Grace is fortunate because her mother is operations manager at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, so she gets to enjoy Fiji all year around. However, it isn’t hard to organise a wedding in this tropical paradise; Jean- Michel Cousteau Resort’s wedding specialists can organise an event in a matter of days if you contact the Melbourne sales team or a preferred travel agent.
“Grace played a huge part in our plans. She is pineapple crazy ... so we had 50 pineapples hung from trees and planted on bamboo pillars.”
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort says that quite often couples renew their vows in front of their children while on a multigenerational family holiday, whether they were married there or not.
In the lead-up to the big day, Helen recommends brides experience a Fufunu Scrub with local nuts and seeds, Totodro leaves and virgin coconut oil at the resort spa. This is a Fijian ritual whereby the daughters of a chief are given ‘bridal practice’ in preparation for marriage. Apart from that, all you need is a bouquet of cheerful frangipanis and a Fijian love song to serenade you on your way to married bliss.
This article appeared in volume 9 of Five Star Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.