It’s not every day we feature an underwater wedding shoot on Polka Dot Honeymoons, but this one, with it’s ethereal mood, Stu & Malia Photographers sent this shoot our way after capturing Jess & Ka’eo’s wedding in Fiji.
Photographer Malia explains. “Living in Fiji and being surfers and wedding photographers we have always seen the beauty that is under breaking waves in crystal clear water! So we’ve wanted to get a bride and groom under the waves for a while now. This type of shoot takes a special couple who are not only strong swimmers, but also comfortable in the surf! As soon as we were booked to shoot Jess & Ka’eo’s wedding, we knew they were the perfect couple! Both grew up in and around the ocean and have the deepest respect for it, and love to surf!
Jess and Ka’eo are both from Hawaii but live in Fiji part of the year managing Tavarua Island. They love the ocean and love to surf. They had a beautiful wedding on Tavarua with their closest friends and family. Once their friends and family left Fiji, we were able to wait for a perfect day with just the right conditions for our shoot. We met Jess & Ka’eo out at Cloudbreak for the session so they arrived in style from Tavarua on a Jetski! ” To complete the shoot, the team worked with Lisa Gowing to choose a gown that would embody the romantic, dreamy feel of the shoot.
As soon as Wes and I got engaged and before we even started thinking about our wedding, we were already planning our honeymoon! Wes and I love to travel, but neither of us had been to the Caribbean. In fact we didn’t really know that much about the Caribbean apart from seeing beautiful photos of it on the internet. We bought the Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands guidebook and we (actually, mainly Wes) read it from cover-to-cover. He highlighted many parts of the book, wrote detailed notes and produced Excel spreadsheets filled with information, tips and commentary about the islands within the Caribbean he thought would best suit us. In the end we decided on a four week honeymoon which consisted of island hopping across nine different stunning Caribbean islands.
Our first stop was the Bahamas. After a long 38 hour flight across four different time zones (we flew from Melbourne – Singapore – Frankfurt – New York – Bahamas as we wanted to fly with Singapore Airlines), we finally landed in Nassau and we took a 30 minute taxi to Paradise Island to reach our accommodation at One & Only Ocean Club. The day we arrived was coincidentally also my husband’s birthday, so when we entered our room it was filled with balloons and a birthday cake made out of bath towels and ribbon, as well as champagne on ice and a beautiful cheese platter to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Wes and ‘Congratulations’ on our honeymoon. It was a great start to our trip! The view from our room was also magnificent, and it was a sight for sore eyes after so many hours of travel. The next morning we took an early morning 20 minute flight across to Harbour Island which is where the famous Pink Sands beach is located. The water is crystal clear with the most beautiful colours of blue – and the sand is pink!
TURKS & CAICOS
After the Bahamas, we made our way down south to Turks & Caicos. We stayed at Parrot Cay by COMO which is set on its own private island about 30 minutes by boat from the main island of Providenciales (or “Provo” as it is more commonly known by the locals). We stayed in a beautiful ocean-facing room that was elevated on the hill and had a large balcony with views across the landscaped gardens out towards the bright turquoise ocean. The beach at Parrot Cay was the most beautiful beach we had ever seen. The ocean was so many colours of blue, with the most clear and purest looking water, and the sand was the whitest and most powdery soft sand we had ever touched. We loved our time at Parrot Cay as they offer not only a luxury experience but also a wellness retreat. They have a regular menu and also a raw food “Shambhala” menu that consists of fresh, organic and raw food options from breakfast right to dessert after dinner. The resort also offers complimentary yoga, pilates and meditation twice daily. A must see beach is Grace Bay beach which is in Provo. It is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and it certainly lives up to its reputation (see photo below)! It also has a nearby puppy rescue shelter called Potcake Place where visitors can rent a puppy for a couple of hours a day. It was the best thing we have ever done whilst on holiday! We spent the afternoon with adorable Bobbi; we took her for a walk and then to the beach where she played in the sand and in the water. One of the aims of Potcake Place is to encourage people to adopt the puppies that they rent for the day, and we were really tempted to if only we didn’t live so far away!
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
From there, we headed down to Tortola, which is the largest and most populated island of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Through a charter company called TMM Yacht Charters, we hired a private double-hulled catamaran and a skipper who sailed us around the different islands for four days. Wes and I had never sailed before or spent that much time at sea, so we were a little nervous to start off with, but when we realised how calm the sea was and how experienced our skipper was, our uneasiness disappeared. We visited the islands of Jost Van Dyke (including the infamous Soggy Dollar Bar. The name originates from when the bar was first built, there was no road or dock leading to the bar. So boaters would have to anchor off the beach and swim to shore and pay for their drinks with wet money! Today there is a road, but still no dock. So Wes and I did as they did in the 1970’s and swam over from our catamaran), Sandy Cay, Cooper Island and Virgin Gorda. One of the best things about this sailing trip was our skipper was a local – born and bred in Tortola – so he showed us lots of special places that aren’t written up on the internet or in guide books; he knew about them because it’s where he spent his childhood days exploring. The areas he took us to were untouched and really secluded and so spectacular. It was a really amazing experience.
We arrived back on land and visited Anguilla. Here we stayed at the Viceroy and the first thing we noticed was how huge our room was! It was so nice to have so much space especially after sleeping on a boat for the last few nights. We spent a lot of time both at the resort, and also in our room as it had a private rooftop pool. I should also mention that from the start of August to the end of April is spiny lobster season in the Caribbean. So we were lucky enough to eat an abundance of delicious fresh lobsters throughout the trip. One place that we indulged our yearning for lobster was at Sandy Island – a tiny island off Anguilla. The only thing on it is a shack with a kitchen and bar and their specialty is serving different types of lobsters. The other unique fact about this island is due to its exposure to the elements, every season the island looks different. Hurricanes, tropical storms and wave action all play a part in reshaping the island and as a result, it is constantly being renovated and renewed. Come here for fresh lobster and chat to the friendly people who run the island – they have lots of interesting stories to tell!
Our next stop was the glitzy and glamorous Saint Barthelemy aka St. Barths! Everything that we had ever heard about this island proved to be true. It was glamorous, expensive, chic, scenic and overall, downright amazing. St. Barths was definitely the most developed of all the islands we visited in the Caribbean and also the most culturally connected with its heritage. They use the Euro currency (all the other islands we visited accepted USD, but not St. Barths), almost everyone spoke French and the produce in the supermarkets is flown in from France so there were lovely cheeses, breads, butter, meats, wines and of course champagne! The general vibe of St. Barths reminded us of a more serene version of St. Tropez. We stayed at Eden Rock which is built right into and around a small cliff on St. Jean beach so it is surrounded by beautiful white sand and clear blue sea. Just looking at the hotel is enough to impress, but staying in it was also a dream. The service is faultless and the food is divine as the kitchen is masterminded by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, so you wouldn’t expect anything less. There is fabulous tax-free shopping in St. Barths, especially in Gustavia which is one of the shopping precincts where you will find the likes of Hermes, Bvlgari, Cartier and Louis Vuitton just to name a few. There is a huge range of wonderful restaurants to choose from, with one of our favourites being Bonito which serves fresh Caribbean seafood using a mix of traditional French and Latin cooking techniques.
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Antigua was next on our list and here we stayed at Hermitage Bay which is an all-inclusive boutique hotel. There are only 25 rooms available and you can choose if you want to stay within the garden, on the beach, or on the hill. We chose a hillside suite with a private sundeck and plunge pool and beautiful views of Jolly Harbour on one side, and the ocean on the other. The staff there are super friendly and helpful without being intrusive and they all know you by name and remember what you like to order for each meal and what you like to drink, which is a nice and personal touch. The food is fabulous and there is a big selection of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Hermitage Bay was also the most relaxing place we stayed in. The setting was so calm and beautiful and the plunge pool was very generous in size along with the sundeck with lounges, a day bed, tables and chairs etc. The only time we left our suite was to go on a day trip to Barbuda – which is an absolute must! We took a helicopter over to Barbuda and it was such a beautiful, scenic flight. We arrived on the beach and we were the only people there apart from the man who owned a small beach shack on the island where he spends his days fishing and preparing home cooked meals for people who visit that area of the island. It was magnificent having a whole stretch of beach to ourselves and the day concluded by being treated to another delicious lobster lunch before getting the helicopter back to Antigua.
PETITE ST. VINCENT
From there we made our way further down south to another group of islands called Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and took a boat over to Petite St. Vincent (PSV) which is a private island at the southern tip of the Grenadines. PSV is a small island with only 22 rooms (or cottages as they were called) and no TV, phones or WiFi (albeit limited WiFi in the reception area). The island relies on a flag system to communicate between guests and staff. Each cottage has a flag pole out the front with a yellow flag and a red flag. We raised the red flag for “do not disturb” and the yellow flag for “service” whether it be for room service, island transportation or any other request. Every 30 minutes, the staff travel around the island in mokes, looking out for the flags and actioning as required. PSV has a staff-to-guest ratio of 3:1 which ensures personalised and efficient service so the flag system works really well and is very unique. One day we took a boat out to a miniature island ten minutes from PSV where there is nothing except a single umbrella. The staff had packed a picnic for Wes and me which included delicious things such as lobster sashimi, seafood, cheese and charcuterie as well as fresh salad and wraps, and dropped us off so we could enjoy a private picnic with nothing surrounding us except the blue ocean. We also went snorkeling in the Tobago Cays and here we got to swim with turtles, sting rays, reef sharks and other exquisite marine life.
After PSV, we visited another island in the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines called Mustique. This island is owned by the home owners of Mustique and there are strict requirements to enter the island with all entrants vetted before arrival. Paparazzi are not permitted on the island, and any who turn up are put straight onto the next departing plane, making Mustique one of the few places where privacy is always guaranteed. For this reason, the island is frequented by people such as Jude Law (who was staying at the same hotel as us only two days prior!), Prince William and Kate Middleton, Mick Jagger, Jeremy Clarkson and David Bowie. There are only two hotels on the island; The Cotton House and Firefly, and the rest of the accommodation are private holiday homes that can be rented out (Have a look, they are absolutely incredible!). We stayed at Firefly which is a very cute nine bedroom boutique hotel on top of a hill overlooking Brittania Bay. The owners, Stan and Liz, are super friendly and love interacting with their guests. In the evenings they would come up to the famous Basil’s Bar and get to know everyone; it felt very communal and friendly, and provided a great atmosphere in such a small, intimate hotel. The beaches on Mustique are stunning, untouched and so private. The snorkeling is also fantastic and we were lucky enough to be caught in a school of thousands of fish when we were out exploring in Lagoon Bay. You can also get your hotel or villa manager to reserve one of the many beautiful picnic spots on any of the three beaches on Mustique and the area will be held especially for you. Everything about the island is private, personalised and exclusive, making it perfect not just for celebrities, but also honeymooners!
The very last stop on our Caribbean adventure was St Lucia. It is one of the most southern islands in the Caribbean and it is also location to a hotel that we had been wanting to stay at for years; Jade Mountain. I don’t really have any words to describe how majestic and enchanting the design of the hotel is, and the photos don’t even do it justice. As soon as we stepped foot onto one of the sky bridges that led to the hotel, we were in awe at what was in front of us. The rooms are called sanctuaries and each sanctuary has one wall missing – entirely on purpose – so you have the viewing pleasure of the Pitons and the ocean in all its glory whilst at the same time having utmost privacy. Most of the sanctuaries have private infinity pools in the room and a mobile phone that you are encouraged to carry around with you both in and outside the hotel with only one number in the contacts – the number to your personal butler who’s on standby for your every beck and call. Jade Mountain is located in the town of Soufriere, which is French for “sulfur air” as it is home to an active volcano. We visited the Sulfur Springs which is one of two of the world’s only drive-in volcanoes (the other being in Hawaii) and here we got to walk through craters, get up close to bubbling hot springs and bathe in a volcanic mud bath which is said to have medicinal benefits. Jade Mountain was the perfect ending to a dream-come-true honeymoon!
About Justina: Hi, I’m Justina and I’m happily married to my beautiful husband! I love traveling, trying new things, flowers, fashion and champagne! French wine, friends and family are at the top of the list too!
One of the best things about a wedding on holiday is that plans can change and the flexibility means everyone is there regardless! Which is exactly the story behind Bree and David’s Bali Summer Nights style wedding. Their original day was met with pouring rain – so they simply moved it to the next day. They chose PhotoFactory Bali to capture it all.
Bree tells the story of how they came to be. “We met through Dave’s sister Laura. Laura and I worked together for 6 months and clicked straight away. After a year of being friends, Laura decided to venture overseas and it was on the night of her going away drinks where I met Dave. As it happened, he was the manager of my gym and we bumped in to each other several times and not long after he asked me out on a date. That was 8 years ago and since then we’ve had nothing but adventures, overcoming challenges together and celebrating our achievements.
I will never forget the day he proposed. Dave and I love to go on adventures, weekend camping trips, day trips, driving along the coast…what ever it is we love exploring. In October 2010 our explorations took us to Bali for the first time and we stayed in Seminyak. Dave loves the ocean, waves and surfing and we had heard about an amazing surf break down south called Uluwatu. We hired a motorbike and navigated our way along the windy roads weaving in between the Balinese traffic chaos.
We passed by Jimbaran bay and knew we were going in the right direction. As we got closer to Uluwatu there were a number of dirt roads coming off the main road and our curiosity got the best of us, deciding to explore one of these dirt roads. At the end of this particular pothole ridden path, we stumbled across a hidden oasis called Mick’s Place. We instantly fell in love with the view and tried to book a couple of nights however there was no availability. At that moment we said to ourselves, ’the next time we come back to Bali we’re staying here!’
Fast forward to October 2013, we booked a few nights at Mick’s Place and on the last night, Dave had prearranged for the pool area to be ours for 10 minutes at sunset. While we were in the infinity pool, watching an unforgettable sunset, talking about how amazing the place was, Dave proposed. I think I was in shock because I started laughing, as it seemed surreal and he actually had to ask me a second time. Second time lucky! Straight away we knew that this was where we were going to get married, it was already a special place for us and we wanted to share it with our family and friends.”
Bree remembers, “Who would have thought going to Bali in May you would need to be looking at the weather! When I woke up on the morning of the wedding, it was pouring with rain. I wasn’t stressed because I knew it was going to be one of Bali’s tropical storms that would last an hour and then it would clear up and the rest of the day would be beautiful. The morning started with Dave’s mum getting her hair and make up done while I put some finishing touches to the photobooth.
Suddenly Dave popped his head in and said he needed to speak to me. We were doing the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony however I realized quickly he wouldn’t want to speak to me if it wasn’t serious. He said that we needed to make a decision on whether to postpone to the next day, Sunday, because the weather was looking horrible. My heart just dropped and I didn’t know what to think. Luckily he quickly told me that all of our suppliers had been contacted by Sascha and could do the next day. What a relief and just amazing!
If we were anywhere else this would not have been an option. Before we confirmed the change we had to check with the best man and one of my friend’s (she had flown in the night before) as they were both leaving on the Sunday. We were fortunate enough that they could change their flights and stay one more day. I woke up on Sunday morning, wedding take two, and it was a glorious day. It was meant to be.”
Bree chose an Anna Campbell gown. “I wore the ivory Amity gown from Anna Campbell, which I loved and couldn’t wait to wear.”
The couple chose Micks Place for their wedding. Planner Sascha organising everything from the celebrant to the catering and decor! The place also happened to be where Dave had proposed!
“One of my favourite moments was walking down the aisle to Heartbeats by Jose Gonzales, seeing all of our family and friends and then looking up and seeing Dave with the biggest smile on his face. My handsome husband to be.”
“The ceremony was lovely, full of laughs and beautiful words said and shared. The moment we were announced as husband and wife, it was just perfect. All of our favourite people were there and we had this amazing view of the ocean and the sun beginning to set.”
“Straight away the party began for our guests with ice cold beverages and delicious canapés whilst enjoying the setting sun. My friend Graeme put together the background music playlist which had a great mix of chilled out tunes, 80’s, 90’s and current songs.”
“I wanted to put my touch on our special day and set the scene for all of our loved ones so I created all of the printed materials. This included the save the date, invitations, table numbers, menu & thank you cards down to the guest seating plan & signs for the day.
For the design, I chose to use a sketch of a Balinese flower (for a touch of Bali), and then used a natural recycled stock. For the signs, I wanted something that was fun & I was initially looking to use chalkboard signs however making these was so much more fun. We had one for the dancefloor (I love dancing so had ‘rules of the dance floor’), a hashtag and strike a pose for the photo booth.”
“I wanted minimal decorations because of Mick’s Place, the setting and the view were enough! I chose to do small touches here and there. The centerpieces on the tables were beautiful mason jars of varying sizes with white lace & twine wrapped around them with a combination of white roses, snapdragons, baby breath and green hydrangeas.
Tying in with the white and green I had some little hanging bottles that were tied to some of the ladders which were used to display the guest seating plan and acted as a photo board for the photo booth pictures. Mick’s Place also put up some lovely white lanterns that spanned above the seating and dance floor and added some bamboo leaf candles… after dark it looked magic!”
Bree tells, “The Traffic Blues Band danced us into the night and surprised me with a rendition of You’re the Voice, by John Farnham. As the night went on there were plenty of laughs, numerous dance offs and amazing memories made. It was the perfect day.”
Congratulations Bree and David! Thank you for sharing your day with us Thank you also to PhotoFactory Bali for sharing today’s wedding with us.