It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, hectic schedules and fast pace of life. Sometimes it takes a reminder, like a Fiji Destination Wedding, to realize how small this world actually is and to slow down for a moment and say WOW!
Recently we helped a beautiful couple plan their wedding in Fiji (yes…we not only offer full-service travel experiences but also destination wedding planning!) to celebrate their nuptials at Matangi Private Island, little did we know that our connection with them would grow even stronger.
Upon their return, they sent us such a wonderful recap of their wedding along with some spectacular images. As we were going through the images we saw a friendly face standing next to the groom as the best man… a gentleman by the name of Tim, who when he was 12 years old actually lived with the owner of South Seas Adventures, Linda Gutekunst, here in the United States! Following a hip injury playing rugby Linda welcomed Tim into her home while he underwent hip surgery and rehab and he ended up staying three years. Forming such a special bond it was such a joy to see this man all grown up and connected yet again with us here at South Seas Adventures.
Read on for the entire story from Dan and Lisa Donner…it’s always good to start the day with a little romance!
As for how we came about finding this amazing trip, we were looking for a tropical location that would allow us the ability to “marry easily.” Many countries, even US Colonies have some crazy rules.
We both decided that the south pacific was somewhere that we both wanted to go. As we googled a bit we were looking at marriage requirements in many countries. I came across an online posting of “1000 places to see before you die.” Nearly on top of the list was Matangi Private Island. I read a bit of history and such and became intrigued.
We contacted the resort to find out about their wedding services and were given information to contact a more local business that could coordinate our wedding needs and assist us which is where Linda Gutekunst from South Seas Adventures entered the picture. She shared with us everything we could do and expect with a wedding plan as such. Since we were traveling just as a couple we turned this into an elopement wedding. With our wedding package we asked for a warrior to escort my bride to me. A flower/ring/witness girl and a witness/best man for me. We were provided everything we needed to wed.
Upon arrival we were met at the Nadi (pronounced Naaandi) ) airport. There we were met with sweet beads of shells and a sweet greeting. We were then quickly escorted to an island hopper plane for the Taveuni airport about 1hr 20 min away. There we were met by a kind driver who (full service) took our baggage and took us away in his truck. I tried to help him with my bag and he so kindly took my hand off the handle, smiled at me, and said “ most kindly sir, may I be of service.” We then proceeded to the boat launch area where again we were handled like royalty. A swift 20 min boat ride around some gorgeous islands we finally came upon our destination. We were greeted by probably a dozen employees singing a happy welcome song. With new leis and fresh coconut milk treat we were whisked away to the dining room for our instructions and greeting. Everyone there knew our names. Always…. The following morning a wonderful fellow named Sereli took us back over the water to Taveuni to locate the Justice of the Peace. We got our single status form handled and went to the Registrars office. There were a dozen people there. We went to the back of the line, however, when it was time for the next person to go in, the entire crowd urged us forward. WOW… We were in and on our way in minutes. Stopping for a special purpose at the bank I was dismayed because there were nearly 50 people in this small room. Again, a window opened and I was pointed to the front. I must say that the Fijian people are some of the kindest, warmest, loving people I have ever met.
Our photographer, Ropate, from Nadi had arrived and we were told he was like a commando charging the island. It wasn’t long when we made his presence known in the dining room and he shared that he had gotten great photos already. After a personal one on one as to what we wanted and his vision we moved on to have a spectacular time doing…. Nothing! We never do nothing and it was amazing. Such a beautiful place.
On our wedding day we went about the morning like usual. Every so often our friend Ropate would snap a twig letting us know he just shot candid pics. We saw the team bustling around with flowers and such preparing for our wedding. It was fun to see so many people so happy to get this off the ground. When I prepared and left my beautiful treehouse bure I was met by Ropate for more one on one photos. Lisa went about her preparations. I met with our minister. What a wonderful fellow he was. We discussed our mutual Christian beliefs so he could feel confident with our wedding.
When the time came…. I hear the distance the sound of drumming coming from a hollowed log. The minister gasped when he saw my bride. As I was told to turn I see my sweetheart coming to me with not just One Warrior, but Two… Kay from Matangi thought One just wasn’t enough. It was perfect. Everything was perfect. We had the perfect setting. Perfect weather. Perfect people. After our photo shoot as part of our wedding package we had a reception. Cakes, sushi, rum punch, and an Orange Wedding cake were provided. We invited the island so a party it became. Later we were provided a sweet candlelight seaside dinner of complete decadence. After dinner, we were treated to the dancing and warrior performances from the people of Quamea.
The following morning we were provided breakfast in bed. Foods at this retreat are to die for. Yum …. Later we were whisked away again by our friend Sereli to Horseshoe Bay on the other side of the island. We were given a wonderful lunch with wine and complete privacy. We snorkeled, went for a canoe ride, and even had a place to relax comfortably and snuggle.
The following days thereafter were amazing as well. We enjoyed the guests having made many new friends. We were delighted by the staff and their professionalism and love.
When it came time to leave it was near impossible. Not only because I had such an amazing massage that I wanted to melt, but because he hated leaving these people and this paradise.
Matangi Private Island is an amazing experience. Kay, Sereli, and their staff made it amazing. Linda and the team at South Seas Adventures were a tremendous help in getting everything handled and being an amazing mediator. We also had a fabulous experience with our photographer at Kama Catch Me Photography.
Thank you again!
Dan and Lisa Donner