Real Weddings

Annie & Luke

ANNIE GRAHAM-RILEY and LUKE RURAWHE
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Luke and I met towards the end of 2017. We’re both schoolteachers and were introduced by my boss who played rugby with Luke. I may have stood on the side-lines and admired him before we actually spoke! We had a pretty immediate connection that was undeniable. We have so much in common and we just clicked! I had just moved back after a couple of years of teaching in London, so it was definitely a case of meeting the right person at the right time.

On a trip to a Wellington together for a friend’s engagement party, Luke wanted to go for a walk along the waterfront. The weather was horrible, and I hadn’t packed any warm clothing or suitable footwear – pretty typical for me – but Luke was persistent! It was so special when he proposed down on the wharf with a family ring. Our wedding in Samoa was small and intimate wedding with just 22 guests. Before we went away we had a big celebration in New Zealand with close to 150 people. Obviously not everyone could travel to Samoa with us, so it was really important that we were able to celebrate with everyone – twice! We chose to have our wedding in January, despite it being the rainy season in Samoa, because it worked best with our holidays. The rain actually made it more beautiful and, luckily, stopped just before our ceremony.

When it came to our décor we really just let the staff at Saletoga get creative as we really wanted it to be authentic and truly represent Samoa. We requested tropical flowers, bright colours and leafy greens because we felt that would best represent Samoa. There were lots of beautiful shades of green and our flowers came from the surrounding villages. Everything was perfect.

It was absolutely essential that we had comfortable clothing for the heat, but still looked like a bride and groom. Luke loves Barkers, it’s his favourite shop! His outfit, including his shoes, was all purchased from there. It was important to him that he was cool on the day, so shorts were a necessity! His lei was specially made by the Saletoga staff. I bought my beautiful dress online which was a big risk! I really wanted a simple but elegant dress. It was white with a high neck halter neckline and cinched at the waist. Made from fully lined lace with beautiful cut-out detailing, the ankle length meant I could easily kick off my shoes!

We really just wanted our wedding to be fun and light-hearted. Neither of us were very nervous and we were pretty relaxed about the whole thing. We just wanted to celebrate with our close friends and family, pop some bubbles and dance all night – which is exactly what we did!

Our food was incredible! We had a three-course à la carte menu as well as a beautiful vegan wedding cake! A lot of our guests (including me) have dietary requirements and we were so lucky that the chefs catered to this and really understood why it was important to us. No request was a problem and everything we asked for was done immaculately! We had lots of beautiful local food including oka and got to try lots of delicious things we wouldn’t normally eat at home like palusami (taro leaves and coconut cream), breadfruit and local seafood. Our guests raved about the oka and the pork belly! We were really spoilt with dessert AND cake. The ice cream sundaes at Saletoga are pretty great, so that was a popular choice!

There were also the choices of local fruits with ice cream, brownie or blueberry cheesecake. Our wedding cake was decorated with flowers and was amazing. It was specially made vegan, with one tier being chocolate cake – everyone loves chocolate! – and the other citrus and pineapple.

The staff at Saletoga treated us to a mini fiafia show. It was absolutely incredible! Luke and I got up and learnt a traditional Samoan dance. I’m sure it was a crowd-pleaser as I’m not very coordinated! I would say the spectacular fire show was everyone’s most memorable moment.

Our wedding was perfect! It suited us as a couple as it was just so much fun and so relaxed. We had an amazing group of family and friends attend and everyone really got into the celebrations. It was definitely a day we don’t want to forget in a hurry, and a special memory to look back on. Saletoga Sands will always hold a special place in our hearts now. We can’t describe how incredible the staff were. They even rushed to Apia to get our marriage licence to make sure we had it before we left Samoa. On our final night the staff sang to us and presented us with our official documents in front of all the other guests. Their hospitality and loving hearts were second to none and we will certainly be back at some stage for a second honeymoon!


THE DETAILS

BRIDE’S GOWN Forever Unique. BRIDE’S SHOES Novo Shoes. RINGS Mike Millett Maker and Jeweller. HAIR Miracles Beauty Salon, Samoa. MAKEUP Leilani Ola, Samoa. GROOM’S ATTIRE Barkers Menswear. GROOMING Max from Maxim Barbers. VENUE, FLOWERS, CAKE AND CATERING Saletoga Sands Resort and Spa, Samoa. WEDDING PLANNER Taryn from Saletoga Sands Resort. MUSIC Casey May Greville.

 

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