Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa
My History with the old “Fijian”
I shot my first wedding at Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa, one of Fiji’s oldest and largest resorts, back in early 2009. Since then I have shot many more but that wasn’t the first contact I had with “The Fijian” as we have called her since we were kids. In fact, my parents worked there before they had me, both of them working at the brand new resort back in 1979, my dad the Front Office Manager and my mum as the resorts only Public Relations Manager.
Later on when I was a handsome, intelligent and amazing pre-teen my parents were inbound tour operators with one of their Tour Desks based at The Fijian in the Bure next to the Kids Club. Back then the resort had the only games arcade in the country and as a bored child I was more than willing to tag along with mum and spend countless hours in the arcade and chasing after the helicopter seeds (till this day I still have no idea what that tree is actually called), that fell from those grand old trees on the property.
Traditions continue as my son now chases after the same seeds helicoptering down from those trees while I shoot weddings there.
Why “the Fijian” - A Wedding Photographers perspective
For weddings the Fijian is really popular and with good reason, as a photographer the Resort is pretty close to perfect.
With lots of great little hidden nooks and crannies to steal a couple away to, a golf course giving us some wonderful wide open spaces, two beaches for sunset photos and quite simply the best Chapel in the country; The Fijian is pretty hard to beat when it comes to bang for buck and wedding photos.
To be able to get all of these photo opportunities on-site means that even with shorter bridal party sessions of only an hour or so we can still get a decent amount of variety into our photos and for couple only sessions as long as we have transport or a golf buggy I’ve been able to squeeze in great portrait sessions into 45 minutes.
Of course with everything there is a compromise and with the Fijian that compromise comes in the form of size. At 109 acres the resort is massive and what that means to me as the photographer is Time. Getting around the resort takes time, with most of the other resorts getting between rooms is a 3-5minute undertaking, at the Fijian that can be closer to 15-20minutes. Don’t worry there is a fix, check out tips below to find out how!
First things first, the Chapel is stunning. Pretty much if you're going to get married at the Fijian, get married at the chapel. Yes Takali beach is a cute little cove and I do love taking couples there for their sunset photos but, the chapel is PERFECT! It is always well maintained, all that white means super easy white balancing for me, tons of reflected light filling in all those harsh shadows at midday when the bride is walking from her car to the chapel - which is the best bride entrance you can get from any of the chapels in the country. There’s tons of light coming in onto the alter and again with all that white bouncing the light around indoors it means we’re not pushing the dynamic range limits of my cameras, the stairs out front are perfect for group and family photos, you don’t have to worry about a wet weather plan cause of course there’s a big ol’ roof, there’s a bunch of great photo locations around the chapel grounds and being generally the furthest away from your reception venue, it saves time for our photo session by only moving slowly back towards the reception venue instead of having to drive out there for photos so we get to squeeze in another 10-15 minutes of photos! Yay!
Right next to the Chapel are the some of their best rooms, the “Reef Bures” - If you can stretch the coin to get one of these even if its only for the wedding day & night then I highly recommend doing so. These luxury Bures have tons of space for a bride and her bridesmaids to get hair & makeup done. Each bure has a little private garden before stepping down onto what is usually a deserted beach making a quick bridal portrait session super easy. The rooms are again right next door to the chapel, so even if you’re a little (or super) late no issues, the resort’s Wedding Car can pick you up from the door meaning no long walks up and down stairs or along long pathways to get your ride, and probably most convenient of all - you get a free golf buggy (if you’re properly licensed of course) that comes in super handy with getting around on the day. I've seen multiple catastrophes averted thanks to those buggys, with the groom dashing back to the room to get the forgotten rings, misplaced vows, forgotten Grannies, iPhones with the “walk-down-the-asile” music left on a charger etc.