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  • Cindy

Our Tropical Gluten Free Wedding

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

When Shane and I started planning our wedding we knew we wanted three main things: a place where everyone could gather where we would all have more than 6 hours together to celebrate; a place that was special to us and gave us some creative flexibility; and a menu that meant I didn’t have to second guess food AT ALL, for the ENTIRE DAY. Quite the luxury for this little coeliac! So when we started throwing around options – Melbourne, somewhere else in Australia, somewhere overseas – Vanuatu quickly became our front runner, and we are so very glad that it did!

The Planning

We took the opportunity on one of our work trips to do our own version of “round Port Vila in 14 days” - basically we stayed at 7 different hotels and resorts in 2 weeks to get a real feel of each location and what was on offer. Phew! They all definitely had some wonderful options but nothing was quite ticking all the boxes for us. On our weekend off we went for a drive out to Whitesands Beach, Narpow Point, about a 20-minute drive out of Port Vila on the southern coast of Efate. This beachfront estate consists of 8-10 huge luxury villas, most of which are listed for holiday rentals. This place is heaven and we could immediately picture all our family and friends housed along this stretch of beach giving us all loads of time to spend together in the gorgeous Vanuatu sunshine, and a beautiful beach ceremony and reception to kick-off our married life.

Once we knew the where then we got into creating the what and finding the right people to do the how. Thankfully Port Vila is home to some incredible people from all over the world doing some amazing things. The Hot List at the end of this post lists all the businesses we worked with to put our special day together, some we are very grateful to now have as friends – extra bonuses from the wedding planning process!

Included in these are Christiana and Toga from Paua Luxury Villas and Holiday Rentals who went above and beyond to ensure all our guests were not just accommodated over the wedding week, but had the most amazing holiday. This was the first time the majority of our 70+ guests had travelled to Vanuatu, for some it was even their first time outside of Australia! So the extra support provided by Christiana, Toga and their staff was very much appreciated.

Photo: PAUA Luxury Villas and Holiday Rentals

Finding our photographers was amazingly easy given that two of the best had moved from France to create a home and thriving business in Port Vila. As soon as we met Gaga and Ben aka Groovy Banana we knew they would capture our day beautifully, however it turned out! We had complete faith in their work and just used the pre-wedding planning meetings as a good excuse to catch up whenever we were in town. The photos speak for themselves and we couldn’t be happier with the result!

And of course, the food! It was really important to us that everything was not only gluten free, but also that it was locally sourced and we avoided consuming plastics wherever possible. Kandy Tamagushiku from Kandy’s Kitchen made this a delicious reality and never once baulked at my constant “are you sure that’s gluten free?” questions. Not only did Kandy come up with an amazing gluten free menu for us (see below) but she really worked with us to ensure our environmental impact was as low as possible. Kandy sourced all of the beverages in glass bottles that she ensured could be recycled in Vanuatu, made pawpaw straws for the welcome coconuts and ensured all the ingredients for the dishes were locally sourced and in season.

For me especially, to be able to indulge in everything on offer that day really was a treat and I will be forever grateful to Kandy and the team for everything they did to make that happen!

To complete the food picture the lovely Judi Clelland from Cake Fantasy created a simple, beautiful and delicious gluten free Vanilla, Lime and Coconut extra high buttercake with Vanilla Buttercream frosting. Yum! She even made the cake with coconut flavouring instead of desiccated coconut to cater for Shane’s aversion to the latter :)

And to keep our guests well hydrated our good friends at Azure Pure Water in Port Vila provided refillable 25L water dispensers which we used in the villas and across the celebrations. The tap water in Vanuatu is perfectly safe to drink but with the number of people we were catering for this was definitely our best option. When we were done the stands and dispensers went back to Azure to be cleaned, refilled and used again for another event. Perfect!

The Night Before

When the celebrations finally came around we kicked it off the night before at the incredibly gorgeous Tamanu On The Beach. The team put together a fabulous menu to cater for all the varying requirements of our 70+ group and it was a delicious way to get the party started! Tamanu is a boutique resort on the same beach as all the villas and is where Shane and I stayed over the whole big event. This place is a little piece of paradise and somewhere we visit at least once every time we are in Port Vila.

Tamanu on the Beach

The Big Day

We began our big day with a private beach yoga session hosted by some dear yogi friends. It was a beautiful way to start the day and get really present to everything the day would bring. It still makes me smile thinking about it. Our wedding day was honestly the most relaxed day we had all week and we relished the time with family as we got ready to become husband and wife. As we were putting the final touches on our outfits (actually I was still in shorts and a t-shirt getting makeup done when the first guests arrived!) our guests arrived to welcome coconuts and beautiful acoustic tunes played by my very talented soon to be brother-in-law.

In the blink of an eye it was time to for the ceremony! Our nephews led the way followed by Shane and his parents, and then me and mine. Shane and I met at the top of the aisle and walked the rest of the way together as a couple. A beautiful mutual friend performed the ceremony for us, with Pastor Gideon performing the all- important legal bits to make it legit. We’re pretty sure he performs every wedding in Port Vila, he pops up in photos everywhere! It was a warm, heartfelt, community style ceremony and before we knew it was done and we were being showered with rose petals and congratulatory hugs from family and friends.

To celebrate we had drinks and canapes on the lawn while listening to a fabulous local string band. The kids especially loved these guys! We snuck off for some couple shots which gave us some time to catch our breath and reflect which was really special.

As the sun went down we moved to the marquee which had been beautifully set up by Monica at Weddings, Parties, Evrisamting. The night was filled with beautiful words, delicious food, LOTS of dancing and most importantly a whole lot of love. And everyone commented on how amazing the food was! Little did they know it was all gluten free ;)

To really top things off we surprised our guests with an incredible show from Vanua Fire. This team of local young people are beyond amazing and we couldn’t think of a better way to cap off the most incredible day of our lives. So far!


#travel #vanuatu #glutenfree #wedding