Real Weddings

Michelle & Martin

Michelle & Martin

Martin and I met through rugby league, having both worked in the sports industry and rugby league circles for nearly a decade. Our relationship grew from a mutual respect for one another into a strong friendship based on shared values. We now share a deep love that knows no boundaries. Martin spent months planning a secret proposal with Say Yes Sydney. It was already a special day: my birthday, and a date which coincided with a visit to our new house to receive the keys. I was lavishly treated with flowers, chocolate, Champagne and beautiful gifts throughout the day, and when we visited our new home I was put off-scent by being told of some house issues by the so-called ‘agent’ (aka the proposal planner in disguise). I had no idea what was about to come – an elaborate and romantic proposal from Marty which left me speechless (a huge feat!) and continues to give amazing memories in the space we now live in. My planned birthday dinner with family and friends turned into an engagement announcement and celebration. It was perfect!

Martin is a proud Samoan and I am of Greek, Maltese and Australian heritage. We didn’t want our wedding to be a one-off event, rather a magical experience for everyone, so this was an opportunity to take everyone dear to us to this beautiful island and share our love for Samoa, its culture and people.

Having been to Samoa a few times, we knew that after staying at Taumeasina Island Resort that this was the place we wanted to declare our love and commitment to each other. Taumeasina Island Resort management are like family to Marty and I, and they worked closely with us and our wedding planning team to create a magical day we’ve always dreamed of as well as ensured all our guests had an unforgettable experience.

We knew that we were asking a lot of people to take leave and travel for our wedding, and many people had never been there for a holiday, so we spent four months building a website that housed every single detail of information so that guests could be well supported in their travel logistics and planning. It also provided familiarity to where they would stay and built anticipation en masse for our three-day event.

Michelle & Martin

We curated a Facebook group so guests could establish connections by interacting with each other online. It was amazing; people got to know each other before they even set-off for Samoa! By the time people started arriving at the resort, they already met’ and it set the ball rolling for a friendly, fun time. To further cement friendships we arranged a day-trip prior to the wedding where private buses took our guests to explore Toa Sua Trench (a giant swimming hole known for its turquoise colour) and Lalomanu Beach. The idea was to get everyone together for an experience so that by our wedding day everyone had memories together and lots to talk about. We didn’t want a stiff wedding in Sydney where conversation was minimal and awkward.

We envisioned a truly authentic style to honour and embrace Samoan culture. Every detail was well considered and the tropical theme flowed through our invitations, floral arrangements as well as the reception decorations and food presentation. Salote Florist created beautiful bouquets for the wedding party and floral arrangements with native flowers, lots of Teulia flowers, and lush foliage.

I love mermaid-style dresses and the textured mesh train on my custom-made off-the-shoulder dress was what made me fall for it. It was beautiful – elegant and a little out of the ordinary. It was finished with a crystal belt and cathedral-length veil. Martin chose a tan linen suit, white shirt, brown loafers and he and his groomsmen wore a traditional Samoan Ula.

Michelle & Martin

When it came to the morning of our special day, the entire bridal party got ready together. We do everything together and share in each other’s lives and experiences so it was pretty much a given that our wedding day would be no different. We enjoyed Champagne, fruit platters and laughs – and Martin and I spent time together in the moment writing our vows to read to each other a short time after.

We arrived by a resort golf cart, and the Samoan Warriors, the beating of drums and the sound of the conch shell was a surreal moment for not only us but our guests too. My dad walked me down the aisle towards Martin and within moments, we noticed the weather turning from sunny skies to dark and stormy – really fast. We looked at each other, laughed, and decided to bolt inside before we were absolutely saturated in the downpour!

Everything from the outdoor setup was moved into the stunning resort foyer. We dried off as much as we could, and I got to walk down the aisle – again! Our ceremony was heartfelt and wonderful – and committing to each other in front of so many people who had travelled to be with us was humbling and filled our hearts with gratitude. We were honoured by having so many of our dearest friends and family playing key roles in our beautiful day: Comedian Tofiga Fepulea’i was our MC. Our bridal party was all family too, with the exception of my best friend of 25 years. Our family Pastor married us as well as sang during the day. Maybelle Galuvao sang Acapela prior to the ceremony and while we signed the register. Our photographer – a good friend and head of NRL photography – captured our day and even managed to get a few bridal party photographs in between torrential rain.

The guests were entertained in the Vasa with a three-piece Samoan band and custom-made cocktails before heading undercover for the reception. We had joined together three transparent marquees and styled them with thousands of fairy lights, which looked magical, and a full floor covering (a great decision given the weather!). Our bridal party and parents danced into the reception area, making a fun, spectacular start to the party. Having spent so much time together already, all of our guests knew each other well and it showed by how relaxed and social everyone was. Taumeasina Island Resort put on a mini-event for the kids while our reception took place, including babysitters and a children’s party in the ballroom. Speeches were made by Martin, both our fathers, the best man, the head of Samoa rugby league as well as our son Jonah, whose emotional, beautiful words made us beam with pride.

We offered a huge buffet dinner in a separate marquee. It was set up like island huts, with the food presented in exquisitely hand-woven baskets and banana leaves. The food was authentically Samoan, dessert included chocolate tart, young coconut, panna cotta, monogrammed cupcakes, and our wedding cake – a white-chocolate mud cake. We had shipped our favourite wine and Champagne from Tamburlaine Organic Wine in Hunter Valley, NSW especially for the celebration. Our band, Finesse Music Group Boys, was brought over from Sydney and they played at the resort for the three nights prior to our wedding day. They got to know our guests so well and by our wedding night everyone’s favourite jams were playing. It was probably the most diverse wedding playlist anyone had heard – so much fun!

Michelle & Martin

Fire dancers [siva afi] added flair and entertainment to the party as well as cultural sivas [dances] by family as well as the Samoan Sivas. I did a siva as well, and Marty joined in – getting thrown up on people’s shoulders! Many guests moved from the reception to our villa – where we partied until 4am! Exhausted but full of love and laughter. The day after the wedding, we held a Tona’ai (lunch). Given it was White Sunday, everyone wore white and we shared the meaning of this very special day with everyone.

Our wedding week was nothing short of magical and we love that many of our guests formed new friendships with each other. When we reflect on the experience our faces light up and our hearts are full – even if the weather did throw a huge curve-ball into our plans. It was still perfect!

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