Real Weddings

 

Sarah & John's Australian/ Fijian Fusion Wedding

Location: Sydney's Northern Beaches, NSW          

Ceremony: Cardinal Cerretti’s Memorial Chapel Manly          

Reception: The Falls Retreat, Oxford Falls
 

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Describe the circumstances in which you first met?

We were both at the local pub looking for our friends who just happened to be sitting next to each other.  We both turned up at exactly the same time and ended up sitting right beside each other.  We took one look at each other and the sparks flew.  The rest as they say is history!
 

What are the things that you both love or that characterise your relationship?

We both love the beach and a healthy outdoors lifestyle.  We love surfing, snorkelling and hiking.  We are always exploring new locations and areas and love travel.  We always have to make the most out of every moment, and we love socialising, entertaining and spending quality time with our very big family.
 

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  • Bride's Dress: Caritas Yu Bridal
  

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  • Bride's Dress: Caritas Yu Bridal
  • Page Boy's Suit: Blame The Baby Children's Formal Wear
  • Bride's Hair: Nikki Russell
 

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  • Bride's Dress: Caritas Yu Bridal
 

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  • Page Boy's Suit: Blame The Baby
  • Flowers: Michelle Condomitti - North Steyne Emporium
 
 

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  • Bride's Dress: Caritas Yu Bridal
  • Flowers: Michelle Condomitti - North Steyne Emporium
 

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  • Location: Cardinal Cerretti’s Memorial Chapel Manly
 

Define the style of your wedding and how did you incorporate your personalities into it?

We both always wanted a big traditional wedding.  We also wanted to honour Johnny’s Fijian heritage.  So we had the best of both.  We had a Fijian Choir sing for our church service and we had a Fijian Meke Group perform at the reception.  We also had a big Fijian buffet with a whole pig that had been cooked on the spit.  We wanted everyone we knew there so we didn’t want restrictions on numbers and even though it was formal we wanted that warm relaxed Fijian feeling.  It was a perfect blend of our two cultures and personalities. 

 

Why did you choose that location and/or venue?

It was always my dream to get married at Cardinal Cerretti’s Memorial Chapel. Growing up in Manly it had always seemed like a fairy tale castle to me.  When I was lucky enough to get my first glimpse inside I thought it was the most beautiful chapel I had ever seen, and still do.  St Patricks College and the chapel are very symbolic of Manly and perfectly represented our love of our hometown and beach.  With the reception we had several requirements.   We had 220 guests, 40 of them were children.  We wanted to have a buffet and be able to bring some traditional Fijian food to add to it.  We wanted our own band. We wanted it be on the Northern Beaches so guests didn’t have to travel far from the church service.  But most of all we wanted it to be relaxed, comfortable and welcoming.  It seemed like an impossible task!  However when I found The Falls Retreat in Oxford Falls, all of my requirements were met, and more in fact.  They are a family run business and were the loveliest, easiest people to deal with.  Nothing was ever too hard and no request was ever denied.  They even erected an outdoor cinema for the kids and no extra charge.  The grounds were stunning and tropical and it felt like we could have been on our own private island in Fiji.  It was perfect.
 

  

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning your wedding?

Coordinating it all, it was like a Broadway production, it was just so big.  We had 6 bridesmaids and groomsmen, 2 flower girls and 2 pageboys. 3 photographers. 5 convertible mustangs.  220 guests. Ushers. A choir, an organist, a soloist, a dance group, a band.  A bus to pick everyone up from the reception at the end of the night.  We picked and arranged all of the flowers and decorated the venue ourselves.  We even hired a nanny to look after all of the children so the parents could relax and have a good time. I had the party favours sent over from Fiji, beautiful Pure Fiji soaps and body creams.  I had hired houses for our Fijian guests and family and had also hired an amazing beach house for the night of the wedding and to invite everyone back the day after the wedding for a post wedding BBQ. It was bigger than Ben Hur!  I had to have military like organisation and trying to stick to our budget was harder than you can imagine!! Actually impossible, we spent way over our budget.  I also found doing the tables for the reception really challenging.  Putting the right people together is harder than you think.  Then when you think you have it all organised everything changes when you receive the RSVP’s!
 

What did you particularly enjoy about your wedding planning journey? 

Watching it all come together and fall into place. I was lucky enough to have a very clear vision,  I knew exactly what I wanted and doing a lot of research helped. The people I dealt with were all so helpful, the cars, the church, the reception etc . Everyone made it enjoyable and easy.  It was amazing how many things just clicked and flowed so perfectly.   Can you believe I found my wedding dress after the third day of looking, and found the bridesmaids dresses and grooms outfits all in that same afternoon. I was very lucky everything went so well.  It was the day I had dreamt of all my life and watching it all unfold so perfectly was surreal and wonderful.
 

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What assistance did you have with planning your wedding?

I made all of the decision myself, but I knew exactly what I wanted which gave me a very clear direction. I started planning one year before and it really took me the whole year to get everything done.  It was good to give myself all that time so nothing was rushed.I did a lot of research on the internet, looking at flower arrangements, colours, suits, dresses…looking at blogs and magazines, everything wedding really.  I was lucky to have some great recommendations as well, in regards to the florist and photographer.  I used Lady B Paperie for my kitchen tea invites, wedding invites and wedding brochures.  She was just the best can’t say enough about how helpful and affordable she was.I was lucky enough to have many willing hands to help as well. I called them my bride slaves.  To save money where we could we did things ourselves.  We went to the flower markets to get the flowers for the reception and my Mum did all the arrangements.  It took a whole day! A very good friend has an events company so she helped me set up and decorate the reception.  I organised the party favours.  My sister in law made our gorgeous wedding cake, and she video taped the wedding for us as well.  I ended up getting my dress off the rack, it was on sale, and it was absolutely perfect.  The choir and dance group were from our Fijian community church group.  The band were friends of mine.  I found because I was so organised everything flowed smoothly on the day, I didn’t have to do a thing, I just enjoyed every moment.
 

Which features that you incorporated into your wedding were you particularly proud of on the day? 

The Fijian elements made the wedding unique and special.  Walking down the aisle to a full Fijian choir was unbelievable.  We were married by our cousin and it was his first wedding so that was very special for the whole family.  The dance group were incredible it created a massive buzz and was so entertaining.  The band were amazing and kept everyone dancing all night.  It was all about having fun and the fun was non stop! Everyone said it was one of the most memorable weddings they had ever been to, and for John and myself it was the best day of our lives.
 

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  • Wedding Cake: Elle's Elegant Eats
 

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  • Dance Group: Duavata Fijian Meke Group
  • Venue: The Falls Retreat, Oxford Falls
  • Event Design: Tiger Lily Events
 

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  • Dance Group: Duavata Fijiian Meke Group
  • Venue: The Falls Retreat, Oxford Falls
  • Event Decoration: Tiger Lily Events
 

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  • Band: Suite Az
  • Venue: The Falls Retreat, Oxford Falls
  • Event Decoration: Tiger Lily Events
 

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  • Venue: The Falls Retreat, Oxford Falls
  • Event Decoration: Tiger Lily Events
 

What is your one stand-out memory of the day?

Sarah: Walking into the reception with the band playing, everyone cheering and clapping and feeling very excited knowing all we had to look forward to was the reception and partying with our family & friends.

John: My stand out memory was in the church.  Looking at all our family and friends all together, and feeling the excitement  and energy that was building waiting for Sarah to arrive.
 

What one piece of advice would you offer to anyone reading this and planning their own wedding?

Sarah: Start planning as early as possible.  Try to cut costs where you can by doing things yourself.  Make sure everyone is clear as to what is happing on the day so you don’t have to do a thing.  Don’t worry about the little things that might go wrong because the day flashes by so fast and you will never notice because you are in your love bubble.

John: The best advice I have is to be happy to let your fiancée take complete control! I only had a few requests. I wanted convertible cars, a pig on the spit and to go to Port Douglas for our honeymoon. Sarah is really good at organising things, I knew she would do a great job. I had no idea that it was going to be as incredible as it was though.  Have faith in the decisions your other half makes because it will turn out better than you could ever expect.
 

Suppliers

  • Groom: Spurling Brookvale
  • Bride's Dress: Caritas Yu Bridal
  • Location: The Falls Retreat, Oxford Falls
  • Event Decoration: Tiger Lily Events
 

 

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