Beaches, warm sand, gorgeous blooms…this destination wedding reads like a dream. And one peak at the stunning images from Blenda Montoro and you’ll see it looks like a dream too. It’s the perfect dose of vitamin D on this dreary winter day, and you can soak up even more right here.
From the Bride…Jed and I met in Honolulu at a small networking event put together by a mutual friend. By the end of the evening we exchanged numbers and just a few days later went out on our first date. Seven months later, Jed, a self professed bachelor for life, and I found ourselves in the mountain town of Hakone, Japan. It was there, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, that Jed got down on one knee and, taking me by complete surprise, proposed.
The first and easiest decision we made as a newly engaged couple was to choose my family’s beach house at Maha’ulepu on Kaua’i as the location for both the ceremony and the reception. The Gillin Beach House has been in my family for four generations and is where Id always dreamed Id get married. Private and unique with a white sandy beach at its doorstep, nestled in a lush valley and flanked by beautiful Mount Ha’upu, Maha’ulepu is breathtakingly beautiful, close to our hearts, and encompassed everything we wanted in a wedding venue. We wanted to do most of the planning ourselves, but we knew that wed need the help of a wedding coordinator leading up to and for the big day. We enlisted the help of Morgan Childs and her team at Moana Events who seamlessly took over the planning the month prior and were, as anticipated, an indispensable part of our wedding. Confident that Morgan understood our vision, we were able to relax and trust that during our big day, everything would be taken care of.
As we began planning, our main priority was to be surrounded by the people we love. We chose to keep things relatively simple but sophisticated, focusing on the food, flowers and small details that incorporated our personalities and passions. As for the theme, we wanted the tone of the wedding to be one of understated elegance and for everything to highlight the natural beauty of Maha’ulepu. We worked closely with the team at Martin and Roberts Design on our flowers and event design and dcor. Together we came up with a warm, neutral color pallet of creams and whites, accented by gold, soft pinks and greens. From the ivory and champagne colored specialty linens and lounge furniture to the abundance of pink and cream peonies and everything in between, they helped us make the day both visually stunning and functionally comfortable.
When it came to finding my wedding dress, I searched every bridal store in Hawaii with no success, and eventually ended up finding the one while on a trip to San Francisco. An ivory gown by Marisa, it had a structured fit draped with soft, silk chiffon and, most importantly, it wasn’t heavy or hot. My bridesmaids and our flower girl wore dresses from JCrew in dusty shale and ivory, respectively. Because we were getting married on the beach in Hawaii, Jed and his groomsmen all wore leather slippers (flip flops or sandals) with their beige pants and ivory shirts. As is the custom with weddings in Hawaii, Jed and his groomsmen all wore special lei made of maile, ferns and other greenery. The girls and I carried bouquets of peonies and had flowers tucked into our hair. I loved my bouquet so much I kept it for an entire week and even took it as far as California before my husband informed me that I could not, in fact, take it with me to Italy on our honeymoon.
I designed the invitations, which were printed locally on Kauai. I wanted them to echo the same simple yet sophisticated tone of our wedding design and dcor, and so, with the exception of the map to our wedding location and our save the date card, everything was printed in dark brown ink on heavy cream-colored linen paper. For contrast I tied each invitation bundle with gold and cream baker’s twine and I hand-lined the inside of each invitation and RSVP envelope with a specialty paper printed with a design of gold mums. We included a link to our wedding website that served as a guide to Kaua’i for all of our out-of-town guests. As a nod to my and Jeds love of wine, we used wine corks as chopstick rests, to prop up the table numbers, and also as the escort card holders on the welcome table. We used wooden wine boxes for our cards on the gift table, and also on the various food station tables. Instead of decorating the food stations with flowers, we used bouquets of mixed herbs arranged in mason jars by my mom and her friends a few days before the wedding.
After several rainy (and worrisome) days we woke up on our wedding day to absolutely spectacular weather. Along with my bridesmaids, mom and mothers-in-law, I got my hair and makeup done at the LAB Salon in Kalaheo while Jed and his groomsmen golfed at the Grand Hyatt. Just before the wedding began, Jed and I met at the historic Koloa sugar mill for our first look. The words It all started here are painted under a rainbow on an old silo, so it only seemed appropriate that we incorporate it into the beginning of our new lives together. Our amazing photographer, Blenda Montoro Miller of Blenda Montoro Photography, was so easy to work with. She had taken our engagement photos, so the wedding day was easy because we already felt so comfortable with her behind the lens. Always prepared, Blenda brought several props such as the hand painted Just Married sign, as well as a ladder so that she could get the perfect angles for my tall groom.
We exchanged our vows on the beach with just two rows of chairs separated by an aisle sprinkled with white orchids, and the ocean as our backdrop. Afterward, on the front lawn overlooking the sparkling blue ocean and with the sun setting over the mountains, our guests were serenaded with live, classic Hawaiian music, enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres, and sipped on inventive cocktails created by our two master mixologists. After we made our grand entrance into the dining tent, I surprised Jed, and everyone else, by dancing a hula that I had learned just for the occasion. Michelle from Zest Kauai was our videographer and we were so lucky to have her there capturing every moment throughout the evening.
The food was one of the highlights of the night. Mark Oyama and his team at Contemporary Flavors created, and perfectly executed, a custom menu that perfectly showcased all of our favorite cuisines. Six different stations were set up around the property, each offering guests small plates of everything from fresh oysters and sashimi, Mediterranean and Asian inspired tapas to grilled filet mignon and fresh fish. For dessert, my favorite, we had an array of options including prosecco sabayon, dark chocolate fondue, passion fruit whoopie pies, and our carrot flavored wedding cake. To complement the food we had a wonderful selection of red and white wines as well as beer that was perfectly chilled in special Beer Below Zero freezers.
Softly lit by white paper lanterns, uplit coconut trees and strings of cafe lights, the mood of the night was festive and intimate. We spent the rest of the evening dancing the night away under the stars with our family and friends to the music provided by our DJ Mike of Kustom Sounds Kauai. The festivities ended with a surprise fire works show put on by one of our guests and was truly the perfect end to a most perfect day. As a token of our love and appreciation, guests went home with samples of our favorite Kaua’i-made treats: honey, coffee, chocolate dipped macadamia nuts, sea salt, and my moms homemade mango chutney.
Jed and I couldn’t have had a more perfect beginning to our marriage.
Photography: Blenda Montoro Photography | Cinematography: Zest Kauai Videography | Event Planning: Moana Events | Wedding Dress: Marisa Bridals | Hair & Makeup: The LAB Salon | Caterers: Contemporary Flavors | Flowers & Event Design: Martin Roberts Design | Vendor: The Bride's Aunt & Grandmother