South Pacific Wedding FAQs

Here are some South Pacific wedding FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) we get from brides/couples.  Hope it helps the planning!

Are weddings overseas less expensive than weddings in Australia?

Wedding FAQs 1Indeed they mostly are!  According to a Wedding Central survey in 2012, the average Australian wedding cost $35,000!  That means for every couple who could bring the budget in at, say $10,000 and $20,000, there were couples splashing out with $40,000 and $50,000!

Many wedding packages in the South Pacific start around $1500 – and couples are already in their honeymoon destination.

How much should I allow per person for the wedding reception?

This depends on the wedding reception venue – there are good packages like Rydges where you can get a three course meal and beverage package from $89 per person (NZ$109) but some venues will nudge this towards $150 depending on inclusions.

Wedding FAQs 2Resorts in the South Pacific don’t rely on the reception for a huge profit (they are also getting accommodation).  This is evident when you see a wedding package like The Outrigger in Fiji where they offer a $5000 wedding that also includes a reception (food and beverage) for 50 guests plus the honeymoon for the bride and groom.

What does the bride and groom pay for?

With weddings at home, pretty much everything from the car to the cake and the dresses to the drink.

One place the cost can blow out is with the invitation list – inevitably pressure will be on to invite relatives and ‘friends’ that really are not in the couple’s core circle of friends and family.

With an overseas wedding, the couple will pay for their own travel arrangements, the wedding ceremony and often they will pay for a reception.  Guests attending will pay for their own flights and accommodation and usually look on the whole experience as a holiday with the bonus of a wedding celebration.  Usually only core family and friends take up the offer to attend, which makes the reception less expensive and a lot more fun!

Wedding FAQs 3Are overseas weddings suitable for small children or the elderly?

The main things to consider are the resort, the wedding venue, transport and reception options. Children will be fine at a family-friendly resort. Keep a Kids Club in mind or having a local ‘nanny’ to keep little ones amused – the hourly rates start at a few dollars in the Pacific and the ladies are great with children. Kids can be a terrific part of a wedding ceremony (ring bearer, flower girl) but they can get bored come photography time or during the reception.

With the elderly, probably mobility and heat will be the main issues – look at a resort on the flat and keep launch or boat transfers to a minimum, request some seating for during the ceremony and have bottled water on hand to keep the hydration levels up. If you need rooms with facilities for the disabled, there are now some in the South Pacific.

What are the main differences between Fiji, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu?

Wedding FAQs 4Culturally the Melanesian and Polynesian destinations differ but the main difference is that Fiji is very much a ‘resort’ destination. There are many terrific resorts and most couples choose one or two of those and the entrertainment will be within the resort – the facilities, themed nights etc.  In Vanuatu and the Cooks there’s a lot to do outside the resorts – just email us for advice (cost and obligation free). Cost-wise Vanuatu will generally have the least expensive package and the Cooks most expensive, simply because of distance and flying time. Fiji will sit somewhere in the middle.

Can I marry in Tahiti or New Caledonia?

You can but to have a legally recognised wedding couples have to be resident in that country for at least 30 days.

Can I tailor the wedding to suit or do I have to choose an existing package?

Wedding FAQs 5It is generally best to look at existing packages for ideas and a starting place. There will be optional extras you can add. Some couples find it strange that when you delete items from a package, the cost doesn’t change.  As an example, if you take out the warrior escort and conch shell blower, the cost for the wedding actually stays the same – that’s because the ‘warriors’ are employed by the week, not the wedding and probably work in the garden, the bar or in maintenance when not wearing the grass skirt and the war paint!

What documents are needed?

You will need copies of your passports, birth certificates and an Intention to Marry form. We can provide that form, and the form for your witnesses if you are having friends or family attending.  If just the couple, witnesses will be provided.  If you have been divorced, the decree nisi will be needed as well. Originals are not needed, just copies – and they can be scanned and emailed to us.

Is an overseas marriage legally recognised?

Wedding FAQs 6Yes, but it will be registered in the country where you marry – so, for example, it will be lodged with the Vanuatu Registrar, not the Australian Births, Deaths & Marriages registry.  The marriage itself is legally recognised in the same way a marriage in Australia is recognised in other countries.

Is it easier/cheaper if we book the flights and/or accommodation ourselves?

Not usually. While it is easy to book flights online, we can often access wholesale fares that are not available to the general public. Another advantage can be less hassle in the event of flight time changes or delays etc.  With accommodation, we deal directly with the resorts and have negotiated the best possible rate.  Our profit comes from the resort commission, not from our guests.  The only time direct booking can be cheaper is when a resort lists somewhere like – but this is only for what they call last minute ‘distressed inventory’.  This is for travel in the next couple of weeks and most couples don’t want to risk that availability! And keep in mind that we don’t charge a fee for wedding coordination when travel is booked with us.

Wedding FAQs 7Why should I engage a wedding coordinator for my resort wedding?

There are many reasons but the main one is to ensure  everything runs smoothly and stress free on the big day.  Wedding coordinators do this sort of thing all the time and it is almost second nature – South Pacific Weddings has arranged hundreds of weddings – our Fiji specialist consultant, Mandi, is a wedding celebrant and she married in Fiji – and we know and work in with the resort wedding coordinators in the various resorts.

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