| Bolabiu & Tuiketei Wedding
Rich shades of purple and gold coloured the wedding of rugby educator and entrepreneur James Bolabiu and international lawyer Ana Tuiketei. The hues provided a vibrant backdrop for their traditional dress, chosen to reflect the couple’s pride in their heritage – Bolabiu from Waisomo, Tavuki, Kadavu and Tuiketei from Tubou, Lakeba, Lau. James Bolabiu is a widely known Fijian rugby match official who has officiated on the both the men and women’s World Rugby 7s circuit. He is the first Pacific Islander to officiate in two rugby World Cups, Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympic Games. He is the only Pacific Islander to officiate on the Rugby 7s circuit for more than a decade and the first to referee Hong Kong finals. He is the first Fijian to date to achieve such international success as a match official. Tuiketei is also no stranger to sports, or to academia and commerce. She holds positions on various sporting and commercial boards including Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant and Fijian Holdings Limited Fund Management Ltd. “When you have travelled the world like we have and had the privilege of witnessing other people’s culture, you learn not only to appreciate your own, but realise your own culture is unique”, Bolabiu said. He wore large, bold designs on his masi to not only celebrate his roots but also who he is as a person. The women of Yaroi in Matuku made his salusalu and purple ‘vau’. The bride wore a traditional dress with a contemporary take designed by Shayneal Lal. “We planned the dress as I knew I had to wear a fiu (Lauan mat) no matter what. I also wanted to incorporate my Lomaiviti side and my love for our beaches,” Tuiketei said. “Shay and I have worked closely together for a couple of years and I trusted his pageant style of designing. We went through months of discussion before we finally agreed. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.” She also wore a two-tier veil by Elizabeth Dickens of the UK that had a train designed to compliment the traditional outfit, with lace embroidered with Pacific flowers that trailed across the end. Her bouquet of purple roses was by Lorna Jane.
The end result was a “wow” from 170 guests who attended the private Christian ceremony in an elegant garden setting at Tabua Sands resort on the Coral Coast on 18 August. The bride’s uncle Pasoni, eldest of the Tuiketei family and the house of Nabau in Tubou, walked her down the aisle. He wore a bow tie from Frasers in London, UK, with his blue suit tailored by United Apparel. Culden Kamea and Pastor Lute Powell conducted the ceremony. Kamea was a friend of the groom from the days when he was a contributing writer to Teivovo rugby magazine that Kamea owned, and Powell is a close friend of the Tuiketei family. The groom’s party wore masi from Vatulele made by Bolabiu’s cousin Bulou Mereseini Dreve that featured designs paying tribute to his strong maternal ties to Matuku. National 7s Women’s Coach Iliesa Tanivula was best man, World Rugby referee Kaveni Talemaivalagi and Sakeasi Rinakorovatu Jnr were the groomsmen. The bridal party, businesswoman Alana Bentley, bride’s sister pediatrician Dr Asena Tuiketei and pharmacist Arti Prasad who flew in from New Zealand were in the different styles worn by women of Lakeba. The designs and styles reflected the bride’s Vuanirewa links and Tongan ancestry. The guests dressed to the theme of the wedding, which featured bow ties and hatnaters (fascinator hats). During the wedding ceremony the couple placed flowers at the altar in memory loved ones -- Master Waisea Bolabiu (father of the groom) Nanise and Marika Bakani (grandparents of the bride); Kalivati Bakani (uncle of the bride) and Laisa Lagilevu Vodo. After the wedding ceremony the Bolabiu and Tuiketei family gathered for the I Tatau, the final traditional protocol of the bride’s family. She was presented with gifts and tabua to the Bolabiu family entrusting their daughter to their care. They ceremony also celebrated and honoured two vanuas being forged together. The couple wore kalavatas from House of Mausio. They explained how they had dated after being friends for about a year and became engaged almost two years ago “at the right moment” for them as individuals and for their careers. “We wanted to grow as two individuals and be confident in knowing who we are before we made this
lifetime commitment because of the respect we have for the sanctity of marriage.” They first met during a beauty pageant in the west, when Tuiketei was a judge and Bolabiu, a Digicel brand ambassador at the time, was to crown Miss Charity. They met in the hotel lobby but didn’t get to talk until after the ceremony. The bride said she was probably the only person at the event who didn’t know who he was. An evening cocktail by the white sandy beach to watch the sun set in paradise prepared the guests for a reception under the stars. The whole resort had been booked for the wedding and the décor was all purple, gold and silver with dining tables labeled with the names of cities the bride and groom had visited and especially liked. For the reception the bride wore an ivory lace gown by an award winning UK bridal wear designer Madeline Gardner under the brand name Morie Lee. The bridesmaids were dressed by Sheike Australia while the groomsmen wore black suits with purple bow ties and the groom sported a bold gold tie from Frasers of London with his English morning suit.
The four-tier wedding cake by Sweet Endings was created with a bold colour combination that fused Asian hues, contemporary Fijian prints and Western influences. Another highlight was a 15-minute fireworks display. When the couple were asked to reflect on their day Tuiketei singled out the moment in the ceremony when the pastor preached on love and gave practical advice on how to protect the marriage, and at the reception when they got to take pictures with all the guests. Bolabiu gave the top moments as when he saw his bride walk down the aisle, the cutting of the cake and his mother’s speech.
Embracing their greatest adventures - James and Ana at their Tevutevu celebrating culture, heritage and family love
For a hundred lifetimes- all smiles after saying “I Do”
Ana and James in their Kalavata by House of Mausio
Pre-ceremony: Stanley Morrell of Fiji Bridal Professional Hair & Makeup Services giving Ana the last touch ups
Making it count- Mr and Mrs Bolabiu enjoy their first sunset as a married couple
Hooray- James being flanked by Kaveni Talemaivalagi, Sakeasi Rinakorovatu Jnr and Iliesa Tanivula
Good times & Tan Lines- Dr Asena Tuiketei, Alana Bentley and Arti Prasad cheer Ana after marrying her best friend
The wedding party pose in their traditional inspired attires as from Lakeba and Kadavu