Wed07232014

Wedding To Remember

Fiji provides a more affordable alternative to Hawaii, travel expert says

Town Crier Correspondent

Tropical weddings

George Estill, co-owner of Estill International Travel Service in Los Altos, makes arrangements for honeymoons in various places. But when it comes to clients looking for a wedding venue, George and his wife, JoAnne, suggest the Fiji Islands.

"The most popular place to get married is in the Hawaiian Islands, but air fare is becoming so expensive we suggest the Fiji Islands," Estill said. "The Fiji Islands are more friendly and less expensive than Hawaii, and you can get married holding hands with your feet in the sand there too."

There are several resorts in Fiji that offer wedding packages. Weddings in Fiji are special occasions that are celebrated by the entire resort. They can be arranged in traditional or custom Fijian attire.

Estill said his agency coordinates the entire planning process with a wedding planner. Getting married in Fiji has become a very popular alternative for couples wishing to avoid the pomp and ceremony of a traditional wedding.

The ceremony is officially recognized by the U.S. government, so there are several requirements, such as original birth certificates. For second marriages, a decree absolute may be necessary and a death certificate of a former spouse if applicable.

A wedding license can be secured from the Registry Office within a working day and is good for 21 days. The cost is FJD20 ($9).

Since all ministers in Fiji belong to a particular church, there are no nondenominational ministers.

The normal pre-wedding studies must be completed, with a letter from a priest if the couple are Catholic.

The Estills' clients come back from Fiji raving about the treatment they received - from an unforgettable beginning of exchanging vows, to a sumptuous feast, to being pampered on their honeymoon.

Most of the resorts have deluxe ocean view bungalows and oceanfront "bures," luxuriously appointed and spacious, with king-size beds, a sitting area, a mini-bar and a refrigerator.

Honeymooning couples may choose to dine privately, enjoying a romantic dinner for two, or they may join the other guests.

An "Adam and Eve" picnic can be prepared by the resort for honeymooning couples. The hamper brimming with champagne and local delicacies may be shared in a romantic private picnic on a white sand beach.

Estill said the idea of combining the wedding and honeymoon costs is an attractive alternative to the traditional American wedding expense.

On your return, just imagine the fun you'll have showing your unique photo album to family and friends.

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