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What a difference a fortnight makes. In the most recent copy of I Do Fiji Holidays – Weddings, little was anyone to know of the impending chaos that lied in wait for Fiji.

Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji with brutal force on Saturday 20 February, leaving a trail of destruction and tragically, many lives were lost. Images being broadcast from remote parts of the country of whole villages completely wiped out by the Category 5 cyclone are heartbreaking.

Unfortunately for Fijians, cyclones are a fact of life. There’s even a “cyclone season” for the South Pacific which spans 1 November to 30 April – the peak period being usually December to February – and as we saw last month, it’s for good reason.

Back in October, Fiji’s Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport forecast an “elevated risk for Fiji to experience tropical cyclones in the upcoming season”. While a very broad statement, the authority was pretty close to the mark when it said “There is a moderate probability for two to three tropical cyclones to pass through Fiji waters, with one anticipated to reach Category 3 or above”.

I covered the topic of Mother Nature turning nasty in Issue 3 of I Do Fiji Holidays – Weddings, as it’s a subject couples should take into account when setting the date for their destination wedding.

It’s no secret that Fiji is now hurting following Tropical Cyclone Winston. More than 20 resorts are temporarily out of action – and naturally, there’s concern tourists will be put off by visiting a country that’s in recovery mode. But the show must and will go on.

In this issue, I speak exclusively with an elopement bride who was likely to be the first bride to tie-the-knot in Fiji since Winston blew through. Alyce-Maree had every confidence Fiji would bounce back and that it did within days – read her story on page four.

It’s very encouraging to also see the activation of relief funds flowing to Fiji, with millions of dollars in donations and aid coming from all corners of the globe. And the #StrongerThanWinston social media movement launched by Tourism Fiji is also particularly exciting – take a look for yourself.

My advice to brides booked or considering Fiji as their wedding location is don’t be perturbed. You’re contemplating Fiji because there’s something about the South Pacific nation that’s struck a chord with you. Perhaps it’s the beaches or the culture or the people with their infectious smile. Whatever that ‘hook’ is for you, I’ve no doubt whatsoever it’ll still be found in Fiji. And besides, now more than ever, Fijians need the support from overseas travellers and you’ll be doing them an immense honour.

Perhaps my friend and photographer Michelle Cheer, herself bunkered down with her daughter during Cyclone Winston’s onslaught, wrapped up the situation best last Saturday night when she posted –

Us Fijian are pretty resilient people with a positive spirit and big heart but this time we will need your prayers. Pray for Fiji.

Deahann Urqueza
I Do Fiji Holidays

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