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My husband and I lead a fairly non-traditional life and, when it came to planning our April wedding, we decided that the route of formal wear, wedding showers and rehearsal dinners was not the one for us. Rather than spread the costs of the wedding over hundreds of guests, we focused our funds on just a few and planned a dream destination wedding in French Polynesia at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso Spa & Resort.
We stayed in overwater bungalows that offered spectacular views of Mount Otemanu, hung out as a family at the resort’s infinity pool and snorkeled the island’s crystal-clear waters on a sting ray- and shark-feeding excursion operated by Lagoon Services. One of the most entertaining moments on our tour was when the guide convinced my mother to place a live octopus on her head for a photo. We squealed with delight as she boldly allowed the creature to crawl on her head and face.
When it came to the wedding day, we showed off our newly earned tans with all-white attire and bare feet. The ceremony was held on the InterContinental’s private beach in traditional Tahitian style. Dancers swayed their hips to the sound of beating drums and men, dressed like warriors, blew conch shells to signal my arrival via canoe. As part of tradition, the priest wrapped my husband and me in a tifaifai (a Polynesian wedding quilt) and gave us a new family name. For us, the priest chose “Vaimana,” which loosely translates to “the spiritual power of the ocean.”
Back home in California, we often call each other by this new nickname. It’s just another reminder of the exotic and immersive vacation that our family shared together.