When it comes to tying the knot in Fiji, it’s okay to step outside the norm as far as a venue is concerned. Yes, Fiji is bestowed with its fair share of chapels, white powder beaches and tropical garden oases, all of which make stunning settings for couples as they exchange their vows. But if you’re after something truly extraordinary, maybe a sandbar wedding is more your style?
As the name implies, sandbar weddings are just that. You, your future husband or wife, a celebrant, a photographer, some witnesses, a few decorations and millions upon millions of granules of sand.
There’s a number of locations, primarily around Fiji’s outer islands, that offer this opportunity including just off Plantation Island Resort in the Mamanucas and Royal Davui Island Resort in the Beqa Lagoon.
Royal Davui’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Christopher Southwick says the property only arranges a handful of wedding ceremonies on the neighbouring Davui Sand Cay each year, but has seen interest increase in recent times as destination weddings continue to grow in popularity. The adults-only resort, located off the main island’s south coast, accommodates around 12-16 weddings annually, by choice.
Southwick explained to I Do Fiji Holidays the strategy is simple. “Royal Davui Island Resort doesn’t want to be a wedding factory. We really want each and every wedding to be special to the couple”.
We have between four and five hours to set-up, marry, photograph and pack-up
Christopher Southwick – Royal Davui Island Resort
So, if you’re interested in being among the select group of couples to exchange vows in the isolation of your very own sandbar, here’s what you need to know.
Davui Sand Cay is a 10-12 minute boat ride from Royal Davui on the outer barrier reef of the lagoon, within protected waters.
When couples book the sand cay for their wedding, it is made available exclusively to them, and them alone. The resort also has a ‘no day visitor’ policy, which means wedding guests would have to be resort guests too.
“People come to Royal Davui for the intimate and private atmosphere that we offer, so we need to respect that,” he said.
Of those weddings on the cay, most are elopements. However, wedding groups can buy out Royal Davui Island Resort for a number of days and the cay made available for a more traditional style of wedding and dozens of family and friends.
Sandbar weddings and the time of day they are conducted is naturally heavily dictated by tides. “We have between four and five hours to set up, marry, photograph and pack up,” Southwick said.
Couples can determine the length of time for their wedding on the Cay, however the majority want a 15-20 minute ceremony.
A celebrant is conveniently among staff at Royal Davui Island Resort, which means the ceremony is official and by the book.
“Kind of crazy given how few weddings we do each year, but a number of years ago we decided to have one of the most charismatic team members ordained as a celebrant! He also is an expert ukelele player and mixes a mean bowl of kava,” Southwick boasted.
What do you need to bring?
“We take care of pretty much everything, including the paper work prior to the guests arriving in Fiji. So that way, the guests just need to get dressed on the day and follow the wedding coordinator to the location”.
Southwick said couples are reminded to apply sunscreen prior to heading to the sand cay and to be aware that their feet will get wet transitioning in and out of the boat.
“Plus you might want to rethink the high heels! They don’t work so well on sand…”
What else to keep in mind about sandbar
Should a couple be perplexed about a ceremony on Davui Sand Cay, Royal Davui naturally has a choice of other venues at the resort that can also be utilised, but “the majority will always incorporate the stunning slice of sand into their photoshoot. Many a ‘trash the dress’ shoots have been captured on the sand cay with sensational results,” Southwick said.
The sandbar can also be used for a romantic picnic.
And dread the thought, but should the weather turn sour, Royal Davui has a “few little tricks up our sleeves if the weather does not cooperate.”
“Living on an island, you have to have back up plans for your back up plans!”
And for a final piece of advice, Southwick suggests couples mulling a sandbar wedding should have a bit of flexibility.
“Mother nature tends not to change her tides because someone wants a specific date”.
Royal Davui Island Resort’s Sand Cay wedding package costs FJ$1,300 on top of its Elopement or Davui wedding packages.