On a recent visit to French Polynesia a group of American women at our hotel were showing off a bit of local accessorizing that seemed as if it ought to be part of any island wedding in the tropics.
The hotel was the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort, on a coral atoll too remote even from Tahiti to be practical for a wedding comprised of much more than the bride, the groom, and perhaps a couple they met on the beach that day.
But the accessory, tote bags woven from palm fronds (the women called them their Louis Vui Fronds), would make the perfect container for a tropical wedding welcome bag.
In the South Pacific, the Caribbean, anywhere palm trees grow, you could fill them with a few sure to be appreciated items — a schedule of events, sunscreen, flip flops, moisturizing lotion, drinking coconuts.
Talk to your resort’s wedding coordinator about having the bags made just before you arrive. You shouldn’t have to pay more than a few dollars each, and many locals will know how to weave them and be able to do it quickly.
To have your guests really appreciate their designer totes, ask your wedding coordinator to arrange a group lesson in palm-frond weaving – a useful skill if, for instance, following the wedding, you and your spouse decide that the two of you will not be returning home but will be living in the islands permanently.
In theory, there’s really nothing to the weaving: Just a matter of folding strips of leaves back and forth across each other. Although from our own experience we’d say leave the tote bags, straw hats, and bungalow roofs to the locals and start off with something a little less ambitious – like rehearsal dinner place mats. – Bob Payne