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Sera & Napolioni's fairytale wedding

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, July 16, 2017

EVERY fairytale, every book, every relationship and every marriage, in fact everything has one thing in common — they all have a beginning.

And like every other relationship, a spark ignited somewhere.

For Sera Tuinalase and Napolioni Tuivanua, their relationship started off when they were still in high school. Sera was attending Adi Cakobau School while Napolioni was attending Marist Brothers' High School.

As commonly shared by supporters of the two schools, it was "the MBACHS feeling".

"We've known each other since high school but we were just friends then, we had the same circle of friends."

And just like a match made in heaven, the two had other similarities. They were both sportspeople. Sera was a national athletics rep and Napo was a professional rugby player. But their careers drew them apart before social media brought them back together.

"We went our separate ways during our senior years of high school. He left for a rugby scholarship overseas and attended Kelston Boys' High School in New Zealand. I stayed at ACS but was mostly was in and out of the country because of athletics.

"Ten years later and two years before he returned to Fiji, he sent a friend request on Facebook, and that's how it all started," said Sera.

In March 2015 after constant contact on Facebook and phone calls, the two who once were friends decided to meet for their first date.

"We decided to go out for movies and then a late dinner but I changed my mind and decided we meet at the park near to where he lived, buy dinner and just have a casual decent conversation, after all it had been over 10 years and we had a lot to catch up on.

"He greeted me with a handshake, a big warm hug and a kiss on the cheek, which I didn't object to (haha). He said, 'Bula, it's been too long, how have you been?' I responded by saying, 'Bula, I'm good thanks and yes, it's been ages'."

No one promised that the ocean of life was going to be a smooth sail and while both have had their fair share of struggles, none of them was willing to give up on each other.

"We both had a murky past but it was love at first sight for us. We had too much in common. Yes, there were times when things didn't go our way but we held on and we kept moving forward. It does not mean that if something didn't work out for either of us, the other has to give up. What's the point of giving up on something if you don't at least try!

"We're both athletes. He's a rugby player and I'm an athlete. Words like 'give up' or 'giving up' are never or should never be uttered. We both had humble upbringings, we don't have it all and you make do with what you have, and like people say, 'to get to the top, you either go hard at it or go home'. Giving up is simply not an option."

After years of knowing each other and from that spark of friendship, the two decided to take it to another level. In a traditional ceremony known as duguci, Napolioni's family approached Sera's family and traditionally asked for her hand in marriage.

"It was surreal, knowing that soon I would be committing my life to a man. It makes me feel matured in some sort of way.

"He's kind, loving, hardworking and he's slow to anger and that's a big plus," said Sera.

Napolioni described his wife as independent, smart, loving and motivated.

"I could go on but I think that sums it up," is the best description Napolioni can give about his wife.

After a year of being traditionally engaged, the two tied the knot in front of their close family and friends.

"Marriage is like a super-strength glue, that binds and holds together all the pages and chapters in the book of life," Sera said.

"It represents a sense of foundation and strength and unity. It means that even if you have left that book unattended outside and a storm passes, causing the pages to flap about furiously, that there is always going to be something strong to hold it all together.

"The spine on the book of life, and the super strength glue and that holds all those pages and chapters together, is, to us, like marriage.

"I wish my mum was here. She passed away in 2012 from a long illness. Oh, how I miss her every day especially on my wedding day. She was an extraordinary woman and the backbone of my life," said the new Mrs Tuivanua.

"I miss my uncle, who is also my namesake and how I wish he was here. He passed away a few years ago. My namesake and I had this special bond that only people in the same situation as I am can relate to," added Mr Tuivanua.

When asked what was the happiest moment of their lives, both said "when we said 'I do', and when we found out that I was pregnant, watching our families enjoy the joyous wedding occasion and having to look forward to the birth of our baby — one joyous occasion after another.

"Yes, we've decided on a boy and girl's name, but we're keeping it a secret until our baby finally arrives into this world.

"We both love children and we both want a big family and if that's God's will for us then it will be. I had to take up the responsibility of looking after my siblings when my mum passed.

"I was born seven and eight years before my siblings were born so I was the mother figure and not just the older sibling.

"We always have kids among the two of us. Our nephews and nieces, our siblings and their friends. We're never really alone most of the time. I guess we're kind of used to having kids running around the house," said Mrs Tuivanua.

As for those who are still having relationships, this is their advice.

"We're older and wiser now that we're soon-to-be mum and dad. We've lived a bit and learned a lot. Our perspective is now coloured by becoming a parent and seeing things with a bit more wisdom and understanding or so we hope!

"So, we have some advice to our 'younger-self' and we're happy to share it with youths and to everyone.

"Slow down. Be present. Work hard. We know this sounds like a contradiction to the first piece of advice, but when you are working, go above and beyond.

"Never follow your head or your heart — listen to your gut instead. Don't be reckless, but take smart risks. Some of the absolute best things we've ever done have been the scariest at the moment of decision but the smartest in the long run. You are not perfect.

"No matter what you do or say or how hard you try, you are human and infallible. You can't change that so please stop trying because you're wasting a lot of energy.

"Be you, it's so much more interesting. And recognise when it's time to walk away."

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