By Ian Heydon
Why do couples choose the tropics for weddings?
Sure, there’s the romantic surroundings… palm trees, warm clear water, sandy beaches and a relaxed atmosphere… but what about the cost?
Weigh up a Vanuatu wedding package against a basic Australian wedding and you’ll find that you can be married in paradise, include the honeymoon AND afford to fly in a few friends and/or relatives for the event.
Have a look at what you will get for less than a thousand dollars:
- Wedding licence
- Marriage certificate
- Marriage celebrant
- Floral leis for bride and groom
- Warrior blowing conch shell
- Arrival of the bride by canoe
- Romantic lunch/dinner
Try doing that at home!
Of course, this is just a sample as each wedding can be tailor made to suit tastes and budgets…
Here’s a thumbnail of one I recently went to. Leigh and Steve are locals, so they invited all their friends to The Rossi for their wedding. Jenny (a friend) decorated the harbour front in a fantasy theme. Leigh arrived and was escorted by Roy (the owner of the Rossi) through a trail of frangipanis, bagpiped (Dark Isles and Scotland the Brave) to the floral arch by Don (Australian Senior Police Advisor). The Lord Mayor (Patrick Crowby) performed the ceremony, the wonderful Connie fussed about taking myriad photographs, documents were signed and witnessed by best man (John) and bridesmaid (Kathleen) over French champagne. Don again piped the couple (Elvis’s Wooden Heart) down the seaplane gangplank and Matt looped his plane overhead so Rosie could drop frangipanis over the newlyweds. Leigh and Steve danced and received congratulations from dozens of friends before they nipped away to the foreshore and a private tent with a table for two for lunch. The well-wishers later welcomed them back to the party, which raged into the evening. As you can tell by the name-dropping, it’s a pretty friendly place.
But, as I said, every wedding in the tropics is different.
The first one I went to was my own renewal of vows in 1999. We were holidaying with another couple and the kids (their two and our two). We surprised Kirstin and Chris with our invitation to be our witnesses and it was a great day. Our James lost the ring amongst a heap of coral on the beach while local Chief David (my best man) briefed me on the traditions of a Vanuatu wedding. My warriors represented my village and we watched as my lovely Annie arrived in a floral canoe with her own warriors. The ring was found and a palm leaf was stuck in the sand. As the canoe beached my warriors ‘attacked’ the boat and awaited my instruction. If I took the leaf from the sand, it would be a sign of peace and acceptance of the bride into my village. If I did not, the warriors would be free to kill the bride. “Pick up the palm, Dad!” shouted six year old James. With due sense of theatre, I did and the warriors swapped spears for musical instruments and we were serenaded down the beach to a floral arch for the ceremony (again, with the Lord Mayor). Champagne cocktails, lots of laughter, the official licence and certificate and the kids to the Kids Club while we dined at romantic Vila Chaumières. And all that for less than $600! And that holiday of two weeks resulted in Vanuatu being our home for three years.
For an example of another recent one of our weddings (with just a couple), click here.