With this beautiful backdrop as our new home and not knowing how long it would last for, we desperately wanted to share this island with our nearest and dearest as our wedding venue. Although a lot of other places would have been far easier (almost anywhere in fact!) and we were very tempted by some European cities that meant (mean) a lot to us, it just had to be Mauritius.
Our new home, the place we got engaged and the place that really, no matter what happens next, changed our lives forever. It just had to be.
Of course we know it’s a lot to ask for people to come all this way and spend the time and money to be get here, so we wanted to try and get as much notice out as we could. After toying with dates and asking friends about Mauritius weather, we came up with April Easter holidays as the best option. SO we started on our hunt for choosing our venue – a brilliantly fun, slightly overwhelmingly emotional and exhausting experience!
Neither James or I wanted a wedding in a hotel and would have both opted for something a little more personal and intimate. But, we both soon realised that here it really is the only option to get everything else we wanted: a fun and relaxed day for us and our guests in a naturally beautiful location right on the beach and close to our home in the West. The beach for me was an absolute must; as always any excuse to get sandy toes.
Not only did a hotel become a frontrunner as a venue from fairly early on, the other ideas we’d dreamed up over a glass of wine or two (of renting a big villa and hosting everything there, or heading up into the hills or even on one of the islands) fell away quickly on closer inspection. Rented villas can be very strict about maximum guests and especially hosting parties (nevermind weddings), and some of the beautiful island or hill side locations we found would have taken up half the day getting around – a logistical nightmare! And I didn’t want to spend the day in my wedding dress whizzing around trying to avoid the mad driving of the Mauritian buses (and head on overtaking)!
So, once we’d picked a hotel as the best option, we had to test some out. OH the agony…
Over the next weeks and months we discovered some beautiful hotels that I’ve since been back to fully experience and review. Everything seemed to be going to plan, being welcomed with champagne and wedding planners before being shown countless stunning beachfront locations. Ah, but then the bombshell comes – the crazy costs! Ok, we know weddings are expensive but I guess we didn’t quite realise just how difficult and daunting it was to find a wedding hotel that wasn’t hugely overpriced on an island where luxury tourism plays such a large part. More than that, finding somewhere that was flexible enough to allow for more than 50 guests for the ceremony was something I hadn’t expected. When you are trying, like we are, to plan for around 70-80 guests, wedding planners either seem to greet you with scorn or an unnerving rub of the hands and an evil laugh already counting the dollars. In short, many of the hotels don’t allow weddings of over 20 or so; those that do look to cash in.
As this reality dawned it became the first of many ‘are we really doing this moments'(!). After asking our guests to come so far the last thing we wanted was for them to pay a great premium for everything during their stay. Beyond the cost, it should go without saying that some hotels here, as with other aspects of life on in the Indian Ocean, can operate on what’s known as ‘Mauritius time’, meaning it can take weeks even to get a response or book a meeting. I guess for us we weren’t particularly traditional in our planning for a venue as we were still finding our feet around Mauritius and some of these things might seem blindingly obvious, but that is how it was for us.
So for us the moment came when we had kind of least expected it. After about a month or so of relentlessly looking and meeting wedding planners all across the island, we attended a cocktail reception in celebration of a large educational event being held in Mauritius. Walking in to La Ravanne at Dinarobin/Paradis Beachcomber Hotel, with Sega dancers leading us through their traditional thatched roofs, exposed bricks, sandy floors and the most insane panoramic breathtaking sea views, it instantly became THE place.
I contacted the hotel and (unlike some other experiences) they were quick to respond and I soon met my wonderful wedding planner Sabine from Beachcomber group. After months of discussions and Sabine (patiently) offering suggestions for my very indecisive mind, we decided La Ravanne and the private villa adjacent in the Dinarobin resort was the perfect mix of beach, privacy with our guests, good food and of course where we could play music without worries. The funny thing is that we need a little bridge to connect the restaurant and villa together, think that’s why I liked the idea so much- anything with a challenge hey!
We set the date, found the venue, now time to get those save the dates out to our family and friends! (Blog to be continued…)