The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and Savaii, and there are seven smaller islands, five of which are uninhabited. Since you land at Faleolo Airport on Upolu, you'll find this island more developed, with the capital of Apia the hub of activities and shopping. Samoa remains fairly untouched and the traditional Samoan way of life, or Fa'a Samoa, with traditional customs and social systems still a strong influence on daily life. That said, the resorts and hotels are by no means third world. From the legendary Aggie Greys to the lush beauty of resorts such as Sinalei or Coconuts, you'll find a fabulous standard of accommodation and service to match.
Many of the packages on offer here will include a celebrant, the legalities, photographer, flowers in the form of a bouquet and crown (pale) or lei (ula). You can add in extras such as a string band, traditional Kava ceremony, island drums, fire dancers, a warrior escort and you can even arrive traditionally in a Samoan canoe (paopao).
Resorts such as Aggie Grey's Lagoon Beach Resort & Spa have an onsite chapel. This 100 year-old gem is built of burnt coral and has been beautifully restored. Since it's consecrated, it's perfect for Catholic weddings! Their grounds are lush, their beachfront exquisite and there's an onsite spa for a little pampering.
If you don't fancy planning a Samoan wedding on your own, you might want to chat to Karleen at Weddings in Samoa. Having owned and operated her own wedding business in Wellington, Karleen moved to Samoa with her family. She's passionate about weddings and can liaise with service providers, research all your options and coordinate everything so that your day runs smoothly.
I'm sure you'll find Samoa to be exotic, exciting, unspoilt and surprisingly affordable!
The Legals – Samoa
Marriages in Samoa are recognised internationally. Faxed copies of birth certificates and passports for both bride and groom, as well as a completed Intent to Marry form must be lodged with the Ministry of Justice at least 14 days prior to arrival. Take the originals of these documents with you when you travel! You will need to be in Samoa a few days before the wedding. If previously married, you will need your divorce paperwork, or a death certificate if widowed. Documents must be in English. Citizens of some countries may require an Apostille stamped on their marriage certificate – cost around $35. A civil ceremony may be performed by either a celebrant or local minister and should be scheduled at least 21 days in advance of the wedding date. You can marry in a church (cost is often around $350) but Catholic weddings are not permitted if either party has been divorced, and special permission may be required from the Cardinal's office in Apia.
Chapel at Aggie Grey’s