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Two become One

Matilda Simmons
Sunday, December 17, 2017

AFTER 10 years together, couple Laisenia Talavutu and Wati Vuli Maraiwai decided to walk down the aisle last month. The couple tied the knot in front of family and friends at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God at Nabua, Suva.

Laisenia Talavutu, 32, is from Tokou Village on Levuka,Ovalau with maternal links to Dravuwalu, Totoya, Lau. While Wati Vuli Maraiwai, 29, hails from Tokalau, Kabara, Lau with maternal links to Salia, Nayau, in Lau. What is interesting about their wedding is the fact that she created the wedding design for the bridal party.

"The theme for their wedding was 'Unity' that "despite all the problems and personal issues we've had over the years, we managed to pull through. Ten years passed and we're grateful to God and everyone who's always been there by us," said the couple.

Wati has her own fashion line called Muwapai, which specialises in traditional iTaukei inspired bridal wear. We sit with Wati and Laisenia to talk about Wati's fashion line and their special day.

Q. Wati, you did a masi where you printed the message of all Fijians which was displayed by the Fiji Government delegation to the COP23 in Germany. How long did it take you to put together this creation?

Wati: The first order took me two days and a half to complete the task because it was a new design (these were being cut by my brother to use the COP23 logo which was being requested) but the second order which were three pieces altogether took me two days and two nights only because I had to submit it because it was already due and it was kind of a last-minute order. I had to take it anyways because I didn't want to upset my customers.

Q. How did you pick up this talent?

Wati: I still remember when my grandmother would visit us from the village and she would bring printing stuff with her just to finish or pastime. We would sit with her and watch her do it, from then on I've always wanted do something similar. Back in boarding school at Adi Cakobau School, I would always use any spare time or mostly during sports period to draw or design anything that came to mind. I just love creating new things especially with accessories for girls. While at home, I thought to do something to help my parents and sister out in raising my son financially so decided to do designing and make use of the talent that I already have. Printing masi wasn't that easy especially using the fine designs that my mother and aunts use. But practice makes perfect and I learned from the best. Using those top designs I learned to make couture out as well as accessories for bridal party such as bouquets, bridal baskets, hair pieces ring cushions and placements.

Q. What wedding or traditional wear do you consider as your favourite?

Wati: Actually every new piece that I do (couture) or I put together whether it be from scratch or something to complete is my favourite because I don't really use designs twice. I love twisting designs and I don't really like to see different brides wearing the same design. I want my clients (bride-to-be) to feel special, that they are the first bride to be wearing that new design.

Q. Where do you get your ideas from?

Wati: Before I start, I want to know the "essence" of their desired couture. I speak to my clients, I think about what they actually need. I think about how I can design it . I also love developing ideas together with my clients, because at the end of the day they are the ones who will be walking down the aisle with the couture and as a designer I feel happy when they are satisfied with the outcome of the design.

Q. Where did the name 'Muwapai' come from and what can Fijians expect from your creations?

Wati: Muwapai was founded by my mother who started off as a tailor and thought that she would start something for us kids. The letter M comes from the first alphabet from our family name Maraiwai, U from my elder sister Unise, WA-me as in Wati, PA ? my brother then I for Isireli the youngest in the family.

Q. Describe your wedding attire and the meaning behind it?

Wati: I actually had two weeks to put together my attire including my bridesmaid, two flower girls and my husband and his best man and also our son and my two nephews who insisted on walking down the aisle with our son. We had matching attire with the theme 'Unity'. I wore a white tapa couture embedded with white pearls on the top part and I used prints from my mum's island, Nayau as the boarder as well as for my husband sleeves and the boarder of his shirt.

7. Tell us how you two first met?

Laisenia: We've known each other for 10 years nine months. The first time I saw Wati, she was on a movie date with her elder sister whom I attended university with back in 2006. Then another time, I asked her for a dance. She was on a girls' night out with her sister and her best friends. But I don't think she realised I was that same afro guy because by that time I had a haircut. She was spending mid-semester at one of her friend's room then I went to check her out because I knew her friend had gone on a field trip. I invited her to have lunch with me and she said yes ... then it was more dinner then more friendship hangouts.

Wati: Oh, it was the first time we had been to the nightclub. I went with my bestfriend/roommate back in high school. We were just standing at one corner all shy and scared and he came right at us and asked me for a dance. I refused because I didn't know how to dance "in the club" and to make it worse it was a slow Fijian song. He was wearing a Crusaders jersey and me being a diehard Crusader fan I didn't want him to feel rejected, so I told him next song.

Q. What's your favourite memory about each other?

Laisenia: I can say that university life is my favourite memory of being with Wati because we had memorable trips together. We love to talk and that's what we mostly do when we spend time together even when we go on a night out with family or friends; they would be enjoying the singing, dancing and we would try to find a space to sit and talk.

Q. Describe the wedding?

Laisenia: To me it was the simplest wedding I have been to and I was glad it was our wedding day. In church right after prelude was a procession then prayer by Pastor Fabiano Moraes who also gave us the marriage biblical advice and prayed over us. Then we exchanged vows and rings then another prayer of blessings by the pastor. Then a song of faith played while we signed our marriage papers. We're thankful and blessed it turned out that way.

Wati: To me it was so special because it was the most important part in my life as a Christian to be blessed. A week before our wedding, our pastor and his wife took some time to share with us facts about marriage life. I cherish our wedding day because it's a promise we make to sustain the love we have made for each other.

Q. Which part of it was special to you?

Laisenia: When we exchanged vows and rings and the part where the pastor said, "You may now kiss the bride".

Wati: Exchanging our vows and rings-because we made a commitment to one another and more importantly before God. I've always thought hard on this about marriage ? if it's not a commitment then what's the point in saying vows before God.

Q. How was the turnout by guests?

Wati: We were surprised by the number of guests that turned up. More than 200, I guess. We were actually looking at 70-plus of our immediate family and friends but were thankful everyone enjoyed the company of one another.

Q. Would you like to add anything else?

Laisenia: We're thankful to God almighty for making this special day possible for the three of us ? my wife, my son and I. Special thanks to Pastor Fabiano Moraes and Mrs Vanessa as well as the UCKG family, to both families from mine and Wati's family and Muwapai's Creations for all that was prepared ? from our attire during the wedding and reception and to Mr and Mrs Isireli Koyamaibole and Luse and Opeti for the delicious cake from Holiday Inn and ACSOG class of 2005.

Wati: Faith has brought us this far. It's not knowing God can, but knowing that God will. We became friends first before we even became lovers, 10 years of strong friendship and we finally made this decision to spend the rest of our lives side by side. We can positively say that a strong friendship before marriage is important.

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