WHEN Peceli Vukicikorolevu couldn't find love in the West, he knew fate had other plans for him so he journeyed to Suva to start afresh and eventually found his soulmate in Verenaisi Joana Dabenaise.
After courting for three years, the lovebirds decided to tie the knot reciting their wedding vows to each other in front of family and friends last Saturday.
Unlike some, Peceli, an employee at Fiji Industries in Lami, remembers the day they first met.
"Her birthday was on February 12 and we met the next day in 2009. I remember it clearly because the day after we met was Valentines Day," said the 30-year-old from Namena, Tailevu.
"I used to work at the Fiji Sugar Corporation in Rakiraki for four years before moving to Suva where I first saw her.
"We got to know each other a little better after that. I felt obliged to follow tradition and I presented her family with a tabua after two months seeking their permission to court her because she was the eldest daughter in the family.
"I believe it's important not to rush into marriage too quickly. For me, marriage is not just something you decide to do instantly.
"It's making a lifetime commitment to be true, loving and honest to your partner. I think it's important to get to know your partner or that person you love well before you decide to get married."
When asked what he loved about his bride, Peceli wasted no time in listing her affable qualities.
"She's beautiful, intelligent, caring, strong and kind-hearted," he said almost blushing.
His wife, a 26-year-old currency officer at the Reserve Bank of Fiji, shared similar sentiments about the sacredness of marriage.
Describing her husband as a kind-hearted family man with a good sense of humour, Verenaisi said they met by simply "passing each other" in town.
"I was working at the Bureau of Statistics then and he was standing across the road at the Bank of South Pacific. He was waiting for his friend who happened to work in the same department I was in. I guess for him it was love at first sight," she said reminiscing about their meet.
"Through this mutual friend we eventually got to know each other better and I thank God for giving me someone who's more than enough. Love is being able to wake up every morning next to the one person who can see past your weaknesses and faults.
"Our wedding was a very meaningful one because it brought our families together, some meeting after a long time.
"But I especially want to dedicate my wedding to my sister (Seini Drawetabua Dabenaise) who passed away in 2003 - it still feels like yesterday that we lost her to cancer. She was going onto Form Three and we didn't know she was sick.
"Seeing everyone I love at the wedding only made me wish she was there beside me as well."
The family affair also strengthened the bond between both families as Peceli puts it adding his wife brought him closer to his parents.
Expressing her gratitude to her family, friends and in-laws, Verenaisi said their presence at the wedding made it even more special.
"Some of my classmates from school attended and it was so wonderful to see them. At the moment, we're living with my parents and we'll see after we return from our honeymoon in Australia," said the blissful bride from Nadakuni, Waidina in Naitasiri.
"We're leaving on Saturday for three months. But I want to thank our families from our paternal and maternal sides, our friends and colleagues for sharing in our joy, and my new family for accepting and welcoming me
with open arms."
The bridal party included best man Seremaia Vuanivono and Saimone Rokova while the maid of honour was Arieta Mataravuravu and bridesmaid Abyss Atou Dabenaise.
The couple were blessed by Pastor Nacanieli Yanuyanutawa of the Pentecostal Church at the Waisiliva Floating Room followed by the reception at the Novotel Lami entertainment centre.