The Morning Of the Wedding

The Morning Of the Wedding

I wish I took more photos, but I swear, getting married – or more specifically, having a wedding – is one of those things that just builds and builds and builds, and then you blink, and the moment you’ve been working towards is over. Thankfully, my love for Ian stands the test of time, and I always appreciate even the smallest moments in our daily lives. I still wish I could replay all these little details though from the day we made our love official official!

These are photos from the morning, right before we got married.

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My amazing bridesmaids and bridesbro, most of whom couldn’t be there, no thanks to coronavirus and the borders having been closed since March 2020, pooled together a lovely gift for me and Ian… a stay at this AirBnB for the night before we got married. American Samoa has limited AirBnBs, but this one is deffffinitely the nicest one out here. Our little wedding crew joined us for our last night as single individuals. The sunrise the next morning was divine. Ian and I took time to write our vows. We popped some champagne and had mimosas. Our friends made us breakfast while we got ready. And they showed us a sweet video compilation of all our friends and family abroad sending well wishes.

Homemade Wedding Table (Progress Pics)

Homemade Wedding Table (Progress Pics)

In the weeks leading up to our mini home wedding, Ian built this 10-foot wooden table!

We were only going to have 8 people, including us, for our dinner party, but we didn’t have a big enough table to seat us all. We were going to borrow my parents’ dinner table but it’s one of those really nice heavy ones and we didn’t want to truck it over and accidentally nick it. Plus we were going on our honeymoon trip the very next day so we wouldn’t have time to truck it back to their place for Thanksgiving weekend. Thus, we decided to DIY our wedding table!

We bought some plywood from our local hardware store, and Ian did pretty much everything himself, I just helped with the planning process. I worked on painting our wedding signs while he built the table. I forgot to take progress pics, so these are just mid-progress.

The frame had been built, and was super sturdy, and the top panels were cut and fitted but not yet screwed in. It was Halloween and as the afternoon turned to evening, we had to hurry to quickly make last-minute costumes (we went as Princess Leia and Han Solo) and head out to meet up with friends, so we ditched the project for the evening and resumed the next weekend.

After a few coats of stain and varnish, it looked amazing!

Pics to come 🙂

Bonus pics of Ian and Yodi girl being so cute that day on the couch.

We toured 7 wedding venues in Samoa. Which should I choose?!

We toured 7 wedding venues in Samoa. Which should I choose?!

Ooh, look at me blogging about wedding planning!
I’m surprisingly really enjoying the process so far. We were pretty laissez faire about it all at first, thinking that we’d get married late next year or the following year even. The only part we got kind of stressed about was deciding on a location. We knew we wanted a destination wedding of sorts, and we also knew we wanted to keep our budget realistic and well within our means rather than splurge for a one-day event. We did a lot of looking online at AirBnB options, and wedding vendor reviews of different locations, and even considered renting an island out in the Philippines. It was fun to look at options and pretend we can afford all of it, but we ultimately decided last month we wanted to get married in Samoa. I used to hate the idea of getting married in a hotel/resort setting, but in Samoa, it doesn’t feel so touristy or overcrowded. And because it’s a destination wedding for most of our family and friends, we figured it would be a lot easier if the wedding venue, accommodations, and the coordinator were all built in to the package. So that’s my train of thought on that!
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, we visited several venues that we had either heard of or been to before and made appointments with their events and wedding coordinators. In all, we toured 7 venues over the course of 3 days. It was a lot of driving around the island, but luckily Ian and I love roadtrips and just spending ‘me-you-you-me’ time together.
Here’s a photo journal of the venues we visited, and just some of my thoughts here and there about each place.

 

Let the venue meetings begin!

We arrived in Apia and our rental car was waiting for us. I usually rent with DAT Car Rental because they’re so friendly and always helpful over email. Ian booked us an AirBnB in Vaivase called Eddie’s Homestay. We love staying at places like cozy small homestays like this when we know we’re going to be out and about for most of the day and just need a place to sleep really. If you’ve never used AirBnB, it’s awesome. And you can click here to get $25 off your first AirBnB stay with my referral code. Anyway, we packed only carry ons and didn’t have much else to do except meetings at the venues.

1. Taumeasina Island Resort

We’ve heard a lot of good things about Taumeasina, and this was our first time visiting so it was all new and exciting to be looking at it as a potential wedding venue. We met with the wedding coordinator, Angelphine, who was the sweetest of all the coordinators we met. She sounded like she knew what she was doing, and took us on a tour of the man-made island venue.

The Sina restaurant was an indoor reception option that could fit probably up to 60 people, and the large conference auditorium was another option that could fit up to 200 people.

Taumeasina has a wedding chapel on the property. It’s cute and architecturally interesting, but it only fits about 50 people seated. We actually were there a couple of hours before a wedding was about to start, so we got to see them in action a bit.

We had a couple of hours and a long drive to the next venue, so we stayed for a bit and had lunch at the Lapita Restaurant.

 

 

2. Aggie Grey’s Sheraton Samoa in Mulifanua

Aggie Grey’s is one of me and Ian’s favorite spots in Samoa. We’ve stayed there a few times and loved the swim up bar, sailing on the hobie cats, and lounging on the beach. The downside was that since the Sheraton now owns it, it was really difficult to get in contact with the wedding coordinator. I set an appointment online and I got an automated response but never heard back. We drove from town all the way out to Mulifanua (near the Faleolo International Airport) and we were bummed to find out though that the wedding coordinator, Sophie, was based out of the Apia town resort, and she was unavailable to meet with us. Still, we liked Aggie’s enough to consider it and gave ourselves a tour and envisioned how we might want to set up if we were to choose this venue.

We checked out the Apolima Fale restaurant and Ian liked it as a rain-contingency option for the reception. Then headed over to the beach to check out the potential ceremony situation.

I absolutely loved the palm pier back when we visited with my sister and her husband several years ago, and I was stoked to see it was being used as a ceremony venue. It looked like there was a wedding over the weekend so the arch was still set up. The palm pier was my favorite of all the ceremony venues we looked at, and I can totally see myself walking down the beautiful coconut tree lined walkway.

For the reception, we really liked this area with a large tree and a kempt field. I have a vague idea of what I want my reception to be like, so when I saw this tree and the proximity to the beach, I loved it right away. I really wish the wedding coordinator was there so we could ask her about potential set ups and other little details, but we were happy with what we saw so far.

 

 

3. Le Vasa Resort

The next venue we checked out was Le Vasa. It’s a smaller scale resort than Taumeasina and Aggie Grey’s which was cool, but it’s so small that their maximum capacity for accommodations is 38 people, spread out over 16 bungalows, villas, and fales. The venue’s coordinator, Soraya, who is also married to the owner of the resort, emailed us ahead of time to let us know she wasn’t available to meet with us, but referred us to the office manager Stephanie who gave us a little tour. We liked the place, and considered booking out the entire resort, but we’re thinking now we might rather select a spot with more capacity.

 

 

4. Seabreeze Resort

We stumbled upon this venue accidentally. We were actually killing time since we drove across the island to the south and didn’t have our next appointment for a few more hours. We were tired of being on the road, so we stopped when we saw the sign and turned in to chill there for a bit. We hadn’t originally considered Seabreeze, but we liked the vibe there.

 

 

5. To Sua Ocean Trench

This is probably the most famous spot to visit in all of Samoa. The ocean trench/sinkhole is so beautiful and instagrammable that actual influencers travel to Samoa just to get a photo in there probably. We love going for a dip in the trench whenever we’re in Samoa too. But I’d never seen a wedding there, so curious as I was, I contacted their event manager, Gerda, and she told me they could do weddings. We ended up meeting with another lady named Sina who lives and works there, and she gave us a tour of the clean beautiful property. I was surprised to learn that the last time they hosted a wedding was in 2015, four years ago! I was also bummed to hear that they only did morning weddings, as they strictly close at 5:00 p.m. as a safety precaution. To Sua as a wedding venue was a great idea, but ultimately might not be in the books for us as we are looking for something more inclusive to alleviate stress of wedding planning from afar. Oh, and I just realized that we didn’t take any photos of the actual ocean trench because we were so busy walking around and trying to picture a wedding and all the work it would take if we held it there. But we did immediately jump into the trench for a relaxing dip after our tour.

 

 

6. Return to Paradise Resort

This venue has a great story, as it was where the 1953 movie “Return to Paradise” was filmed starring Gary Cooper and Roberta Haynes. It is both Ian and I’s favorite movie about Samoa, and it was our first time at the venue. We met with the wedding coordinator, Joyce, who immediately got down to business and gave us helpful pamphlets and basically all the information we wanted and more. She was the most professional of all the coordinators we met with, and meeting with her really made a big difference as she helped us envision how we could set up for our wedding and party. She also gave us a tour of the property. The grounds were neat but looked like they were undergoing some maintenance.

This is the large Fetaui fale which would be a good option for an indoor/outdoor reception. It was really large and I liked the detail of the woodwork and wrap-around veranda.

Joyce showed us the Rock Pool Fale area where we could host an intimate pre-wedding dinner for just me, Ian, and our parents.

Then we head to the beach to check out beach ceremony options. Each beach area had either a villa or bungalow nearby, so we would have to consider booking rooms in those particular areas.

It was a really low tide when we were there, so we took note that we’d have to check the tide for our wedding date in advance. I liked how the sand formed a small slope down to the water. I could imagine our friends and family standing around on the sandy slope while we said our vows. Next, she showed us Return to Paradise’s Chapel by the Sea, which was actually pretty cute, and is an awesome next option as a rain-contingency plan.

I was happy to see that they had water refill stations, used coconut leaf baskets for rubbish, and they didn’t use any plastic straws. We had some time to kill again before our very last venue appointment, so we stayed for lunch, and stuck our toes in the water.

 

 

7. Sinalei Reef Resort

Sinalei is another favorite stopover for me and Ian to have a fancy lunch. And they make delicious ginger mojitos. We met with the wedding coordinator, Gerda, who looks a lot like Denise Richards and so happens to also be American, and she was super friendly and jumped right into a tour of the venue. We checked out the beach, which was still at a really low tide, as a beach ceremony option. Similar to other venues, we’d have to consider renting out the villas near the beach, which actually ended up being quite a bit expensive as the packages were in US Dollars and not in Samoan Tala. Sinalei is quite a bit fancy which we were expecting, but was probably the most expensive venue (package and room rates included) out of all the venues we visited.

I do love the restaurant on the pier though. We loved jumping off the pier at high tide when we were there last. It was also nice that it served as both an indoor/outdoor option for the reception.

 

 


 

 

Which venue is your favorite?

It was a really great experience getting to visit all the venues and meet with most of the coordinators. It felt like we had a solid and more concrete plan for our wedding, which isn’t too far away! We’re currently still deciding between our top two options (which I’ll share later when we do finalize), but I’d be interested to hear any recommendations or comments from anyone!

We decided on a wedding destination!

We decided on a wedding destination!

Taaaalofa!

Ian and I just got back from the long weekend in Apia. Why? Because we’re going to get married there next year! The thing about wedding planning for me is this: it sucked not knowing where we were going to have it. We knew we probably wouldn’t have our wedding here in American Samoa because we ultimately knew a destination wedding was what we wanted, but we also didn’t want to stress too much with planning a wedding from afar. And so we finally decided, like last month, that we would get married in Samoa.

Samoa is close enough to American Samoa that it feels like home, yet it always feels like a getaway since we have to hop on a plane and literally time travel over. We travel there at least once a year, but usually more often than that, and yet we still feel like we’re on vacation but with the comforts of home. Plus, for all our friends and family who will come, it will still be a full on destination wedding, and they can choose to come to American Samoa afterwards to adventure with me and Ian in our actual stomping grounds! And one other big aspect is the currency exchange between USD and WST means that we can stretch our money to get better value.

We booked appointments with venues to meet with their coordinators, and got to do a walk through of the venue and the packages. This has been an incredible experience of getting to see and feel what we envision our “big day” to be like. Now we’re down to our final two options, but since we haven’t made the final final decision yet. I’ll leave that a mystery and I’ll post some photos from the different venues we toured soon!