Resort Wedding FAQs

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we get from brides/couples. Hope it helps the planning!

Vanuatu Wedding 2Why should I engage a wedding coordinator for my resort wedding?

There are many reasons – to get everything to run smoothly and stress free on the big day does take both work and experience. Wedding coordinators do this sort of thing all te time and it becomes second nature – and it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. In fact, it comes free as part of a wedding package if Resort Weddings arranges the wedding as well as flights and accommodation.

Are weddings overseas less expensive than weddings in Australia?

Mostly, yes! And very much so!!! Of course you can have an inexpensive registry office or simple home garden marriage celebrant style wedding, but the average wedding cost in Australia can shock some people. According to a recent Wedding Central survey, the average Australian wedding cost $35,000! Around $10,000 is considered a real budget wedding and $40,000 to $50,000 weddings are common, hence the average.

Many wedding packages in Fiji, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Samoa are less than $2000 so couples can get a fabulous tropical wedding plus the honeymoon for much less than a budget wedding at home.

Vanuatu Wedding 1How much should I allow per person for the wedding reception?

It is a bit ‘How long is a piece of string?’ but in Australia you won’t get change out of around $150 per person and it could blow out to a lot more if you have good drinkers, a long night and an open bar.

Unfortunately, supply and demand in Australia has set a pretty high starting benchmark – and the business model for local weddings is different – there can be lots of ‘contractors’ who need to make a living from what they do – hiring out cars, marquees, doing the food and beverage, providing the music, florists, photographers etc.

The business model for an overseas wedding is quite different – the resorts are looking at making a profit on the accommodation and the food and beverage over the duration of the stay. This is evident when you see a resort wedding package where $5000 can include a reception (food and beverage) for 20 guests plus the honeymoon for the bride and groom. That’s exceptional value for the happy couple but it means the resort has booked around ten rooms for several nights – and as for the guests, they don’t mind because they have booked a holiday and get a catered wedding reception!

Vanuatu Wedding 3What does the bride and groom (or the parents) pay for?

With weddings at home, guests expect everything to be covered and their contribution will be a present for the happy couple. So the budget at home should include the wedding dress, dresses for bridesmaids and flower girl, suits for the gentlemen, the rings, invitations, car transport, hair and make-up, church or venue cost, flowers, decoration, photography, the reception venue, food and beverage, entertainment/music, thank-you cards, cake, accommodation and honeymoon.

One place the cost can blow out is with the invitation list – inevitably pressure will be on to invite relatives and ‘friends’ that really are not in the couple’s core circle of friends and family.

With an overseas wedding, the couple will pay for their own travel arrangements, the wedding ceremony and often pay for a reception. Guests attending will pay for their own flights and accommodation and usually look on the whole experience as a holiday with the bonus of a wedding celebration. And usually only core family and friends take up the offer to attend, which makes the reception less expensive and a lot more fun!

Vanuatu Wedding 4Can we get married by the captain on a cruise ship?

Not legally, no. Some ship captains will officiate for a devotion ceremony but that will not be legally recognised. Some cruise companies advertise weddings at sea and technically it isn’t a lie… but the ceremony will take place on board the ship while it is in dock in Australia prior to departure, with a local celebrant looking after the legal bits. To have a cruise ship wedding legally recognised the ceremony has to be in a port of call like Port Vila in Vanuatu or Denarau in Fiji. We can arrange this for couples and look after all the legalities so all that happens on the wedding day is the ceremony and celebration.

Are overseas weddings suitable for small children or the elderly?

Of course. Depending. The main thing to consider is the resort, wedding venue, transport and reception options. There are family resorts and adults only resorts. Children will be fine at a family resort but many adult-only resorts won’t even allow them to attend a ceremony. It can be a long day for children, even if they are part of the actual ceremony. Keep a Kids Club in mind or having a local ‘nanny’ to keep little ones amused – the hourly rates are very inexpensive in the Pacific and the ladies are great with children. With the elderly, probably mobility is the main issue – perhaps keep launch or boat transfers to a minimum and request some seating for during the ceremony.

Vanuatu Wedding 6What are the main differences between Fiji, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu?

Culturally the destinations differ but the main difference is that Fiji is very much a ‘resort’ destination. There are many terrific resorts and most couples choose one or two of those (perhaps one for the first week and the wedding and another resort/week for the honeymoon). In Vanuatu and the Cooks there’s a lot to do outside the resorts – restaurants, bars, excursions, waterfalls etc. You can still sit poolside with a colourful cocktail in any of the destinations but probably best to just discuss the options with us (cost and obligation free). Cost-wise Vanuatu will usually be the least expensive package and the Cooks most expensive, simply because of distance and flying time.

Can I tailor the wedding to suit or do I have to choose an existing package?

Of course you can tailor to suit but probably best to choose a basic wedding package and add to it. All packages will need a pastor or celebrant and lodging of documents etc. Then put your imagination to work… would you like beach or chapel wedding… a canoe arrival… a warrior escort… what sort of flowers… hair and make-up… photography… music…

Vanuatu Wedding 5What documents are required?

On the legality side you will need copies of your passports, birth certificates and an Intention to Marry form. We can provide that, and the form for your witnesses if you are having friends or family attending. If just the couple, witnesses will be provided. If you have been divorced, divorce papers will be needed as well.

Is an overseas marriage recognised worldwide?

Yes, but keep in mind that it will be registered in the country where you marry – so, for example, it will be on the Fiji Registrar, not the Australian Births, Deaths & Marriages registry. The marriage itself is legally recognised however.

Can I marry in Tahiti or New Caledonia?

Not really. You can, but to have a legally recognised wedding couples have to be resident in that country for at least 30 days. The authorities are working on making it easier but at this time it is not simple!

Aitutaki Lagoon 27_FB-WeddingIs it easier/cheaper if we book the flights and/or accommodation ourselves?

Again, not really, but it is up to you! While it is easy to book flights online, travel agents can often access less expensive wholesale fares that are not available to the general public. It usually won’t be more expensive! Another advantage can be less hassle in the event of flight time changes or delays etc. We are there for you if there are hiccups. With accommodation, it probably makes logical sense that dealing directly with a hotel or resort will cut out the ‘middle man’ but in reality that is not the case. We will have negotiated the best possible rate with the resort for you and will receive a commission from the resort for making the booking. There will also be an agreement between us and the resort or hotel for ‘rate integrity’ – that means that if we have a rate of $250 per night – the resort can also sell direct to the public at $250 a night. The advantage in having us do the booking is that, again, we are there to go into bat for you, we can package flights with accommodation and transfers PLUS we don’t charge a fee for wedding coordination when travel is booked with us.