Ahhh – Fiji that group of heavenly tropical islands, just a few hours flying time north east of Australia, that are home to happiness! This is where Chelsea of Chelsea Jayne Weddings has chosen to dedicate herself to planning weddings. Based in Sydney, Chelsea starts the planning for your Fijian wedding, in Australia, and with her knowledge of Fijian customs, vendors and resorts, Chelsea will save you endless hours of stress trying to plan an overseas island wedding. So Bula (Welcome) to Fijian weddings with Chelsea Jayne Weddings.
How did you decide on wedding planning as a career? What background skills do you bring to your business?
After leaving high school I studied hotel management for 3 years at the Blue Mountains Hotel Management School.
I spent the next 7 years working in hotels across Australia and London within the events and wedding departments. This was my first introduction to planning weddings and I found that not only did I love helping the bride and the groom plan their special day but that I could also enhance their experience by providing advice from the lessons learned from other weddings. At one point I was the wedding coordinator at a leading hotel in Manly looking after up to 4 weddings every week, that’s over 200 weddings per year!!
In 2004 I left the Hotel Industry to work for one of Sydney’s Premier catering companies doing weddings and events for Sydney’s elite clientele, which was an amazing experience witnessing everything from celebrity weddings to million dollar events.
In 2008 after my 2nd child was born I decided to set up my own wedding planning business based in Sydney, as I always loved doing weddings.
Image by Hels Orr Takes Photos
You specialise in planning weddings in Fiji. How did that come about?
In 2009 I visited Fiji for the first time on a family holiday and saw the large amount of weddings they did. I spoke with a few of the resorts and some travel agents when I got home and found that no one was 100% dedicated to planning weddings in Fiji. My experience with brides over the years also told me that they would prefer to deal with someone based in Australia that is very experienced in planning Australian weddings, so has a good idea of what they want which makes it easier for them. As my business grew I decided in 2012 to focus only on weddings in Fiji.
Why choose Fiji as a destination for your wedding? What is it about Fiji that draws you to the islands?
Fiji is the most amazing place for a wedding, the location is beautiful and people are so amazing. It is the perfect location for a romantic wedding and it’s only 3.5 hours flight from Sydney. What an amazing experience having a wedding in the sand under the stars.
Can you describe the special ambience, services, food etc. that a wedding in Fiji offers?
The best thing about having a wedding in Fiji is you and all your guests are on holidays so everyone is very relaxed. The service in Fiji is very warm and friendly; their love of children is truly amazing. I have had some of the best food ever in Fiji, if you love seafood you will not be disappointed.
Image by Kristjan Porm Photographer
What should couples know about planning a destination wedding in Fiji?
You need a wedding planner as everything is on Fiji time! It is also difficult to get a good understanding of what each resort and island can offer you and how they compare to each other. I am in a position to give a bride and groom independent and honest advice having personally visited all of the mainland resorts and islands that offer weddings over the last 4 years.
You also need at least 12 months to book your preferred venue and photographers as there are not many to choose from.
Make sure you choose a venue that will suit you and all of your guests, think about location, transfer time, the types of accommodation available and price.
Understand the seasons, the wet season is traditionally from November – April and you may also want to consider the school holidays, as this can be expensive and very busy.
Do you want to get married on the mainland or an Island, with one or two exceptions; the best beaches will be on the islands.
Image by Nadi Bay Photography
Do you work through resorts, and is there much difference between what you can offer with each resort?
I work with all the resorts and they all have different packages. Some have ceremony packages with receptions priced individually and some resorts have all-inclusive packages for both your ceremony and reception. Once I speak with a bride and groom, and find out what their dream wedding is I can match it to the best resort or island.
In regards to your suppliers (photographer, hair & makeup, décor hire etc.) this is organised outside the resorts and this is where I can make sure you book the best suppliers available, having had experience working with them before.
Can you arrange a professional photographer on the islands, or should a couple arrange their photographer/cinematographer from home?
There are a great collection of photographers and videographers in Fiji, however some clients prefer to bring suppliers over from Australia. This will involve paying the travel and accommodation costs so can add to the cost quite a bit.
What about the legalities – what is involved?
All a couple need is an original birth certificate and passport; if they are not a Commonwealth citizen they will require a single status declaration. All the paper work is done through the resorts.
You will need to formally change your name in Australia through Birth Deaths and Marriages, which does incur a fee.
What are your favourite things to do and see in Fiji?
The Islands are so beautiful, if you get a chance you must take a day trip or go out and stay for a few days, it is very different to the mainland.
It’s also nice to go to a local village or school and meet the local kids, I always like to take gifts for them and donate money for equipment, which is desperately needed.
Image from Finau Photography
Do you have a favourite or special place that you go to whenever you are in Fiji?
You can’t go past the Sheraton Fiji, it has lots of different types of accommodation and the food & beverage options are fantastic. Denarau is close to the airport and there is a lot to do there.
When in Fiji I always like to go out to the islands where you get a real feel for Fiji – my absolute favourite place is Vomo Island – it is amazing!!
Thank you Chelsea for giving us a glimpse of the world of weddings in Fiji. To find out more please visit the Chelsea Jayne Weddings website.
Headshot by Sabrina Horn Photography