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Krystal and Samisoni

15 February 2022
krystal and samisoni's wanaka wedding, pictured walking up a hill

Words: Krystal Tongotongo Photo: Luisa Apanui Photography

I first met Soni in 2005. I lived in Dunedin at the time and he was there for the weekend to play rugby. We met on a night out. I remember he said I caught his eye; he came over and asked me to dance with him, we exchanged numbers, and we were officially together not long after.

Fast forward to 2016, when we spent an amazing few days in Queenstown. It was the day after my birthday and Soni took me on a scenic boat cruise around Lake Wakatipu. We were standing at the bow taking in the amazing views when Soni surprised me by dropping down on one knee and asked the best question ever, “Will you marry me?” with a gorgeous ring. With no hesitation, it was YES! The day concluded with champagne and a decadent dinner.

Our wedding was a unique and amazing experience in Wānaka, with our ceremony and reception held at Oasis Yurt Lodge overlooking the Clutha River. I already had my heart set on a rustic-inspired wedding. I planned everything and curated all the little details myself, from the seating plan to the table menus, name cards and decorations.

An April wedding was perfect for us. We thought about family and friends that would be travelling from afar, and we agreed it would be a good idea to have our wedding day fall into a long weekend so everyone could enjoy their time away after we got married. Easter weekend was exactly it. We didn’t want bridesmaids and groomsmen, and kept our guest list at 80 – we wanted to stay true to ourselves and keep it small and intimate.

Because of Covid, Soni’s parents Lomani and Ailine couldn’t be with us on our wedding day, which left us heartbroken. They were going to travel from Tonga, but the borders were closed. Instead, they made us a beautiful speech that was shown on a projector during the reception.

It was important to us to incorporate our culture and customs throughout our wedding day. Soni wore a kahoa (Tongan necklace) made by his aunty Ema – it’s worn on very special occasions and symbolises a special part of his Tongan culture, which he is very proud of. The korowai (feather cloak) I wore was made by my kuia Turi Rita Nikora, mother to my koro (grandfather) Reg. It was a great honour for Soni and I to have worn a beautiful piece of our culture on our wedding day.

During the reception, Soni’s family did a tau’olunga, a traditional Tongan dance, performed by his niece. It’s customary for family and friends to come on stage and put money notes on her then join in. My whānau performed Māori waiata to show reverence for us and our guests. Our close friends surprised us and made us do a Siva Samoa. This dance requires grace in the movement of the arms and hands. In a traditional Samoan Siva, the body movement tells a story. I did my best to move gracefully with family and friends surrounding me. A beautiful mixture of cultures were shared on our wedding night; it was special to have our cultures come together.

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