What I wouldn’t give to have been invited to this wedding. It’s a destination dream come true. A perfect Hawaiian soiree filled to the gills with personality and love, not to mention a stunning seaside backdrop. Every image captured by Elena Graham makes me want to squeal with glee, and you can see why here.
From Elena Graham Photography…Chelsea and Tom traveled from Australia to have their wedding near Chelsea’s hometown on the Big Island of Hawaii. Every detail, from Chelsea’s Australian couture dress and black pearl engagement ring to their local Hawaiian florals, effortlessly encompassed a laid back island vibe.
From The Bride…There was one fact about our relationship everyone knew before we got engaged— before Tom and I had considered it ourselves—and that was where we would begin the rest of our lives together. My poor husband thought his job was done once he popped the question! Little did he know…
He is a good Kiwi bloke from New Zealand and I’m an island girl from Hawaii. To complicate things further, it would be a destination wedding for more than half our guests no matter what we chose, with most of our friends residing in our current home of Sydney, Australia.
Nonetheless, they confirmed it before we announced it: “We’re going to Hawaii!”
We wanted our celebration to reflect our laid back, Pacific style, choosing the lovely Waikoloa Marriott on the Kohala coast of Hawaii’s “Orchid Isle,” the Big Island. Some of my earliest memories are of hiking the peppered black and white sands along the coast with my family; my mother calling for me to wade into the cold brackish ponds lined with black stones, and my father fishing in the surf. But it wasn’t easy planning a wedding across the International Date Line.
My bridesmaids were all in different countries, so shopping together for a wedding dress or bridesmaids outfits was out. While I gave my girlfriends leave to mix and match their own dresses, I went with couture Australian designer Anaessia, which gave me the personalized touch of antique lace and hand-beaded blossoms that perfectly suited my island theme.
My mother always said my wedding would be just like the senior prom: You get the outfit and planning down and worry about the date last. She was right—she had been lining up local vendors for my wedding from the time I was a teenager, just waiting for me to pick a date!
We were so lucky to have Leilani’s Bakery, who made my sleepover birthday cakes, fashion a classic two-tier vanilla and haupia wedding cake with buttercream frosting. My bridesmaid and her mother (Francesca and Franca McGuffie) organized the orchid arrangements: from the bouquets and the hair accessories to the submerged cymbidium table arrangements anchored in black beach stones. We were also lucky to have Elena Graham as our photographer, a childhood friend with an eye for subtle emotion and photojournalistic storytelling.
Our guests were welcomed to the ceremony with a traditional slack key guitar player and seated looking out through the palm trees and over the ocean. Tom carried the vows we wrote together in the inside pocket of his royal blue M.J. Bale suit, and it was all over too quickly. The rings, a kiss and we were man and wife.
After signing the wedding licence, we greeted each of our 90 guests with a fragrant plumeria lei. It was a beautiful idea by the event manager to afford us that personal moment with each guest who made the journey to be with us.
After a hearty buffet dinner organized by the hotel, my niece and nephews chased a ball across the lawn, one of the gifts my mother prepared along with a little basket of crayons and paper to entertain them through the evening.
Kiwis are big on speeches, and our friends had us rolling with laughter until our cheeks were so sore we thought it was impossible to keep smiling.
But I had one more surprise for my husband. Months before, I agonised over my footwear, having to choose my shoes before the dress was finished so they could tailor the length: flats or heels? Though the sand and grass were a consideration, I chose simple flat sandals so I could perform a traditional barefoot hula for my husband.
It was beautiful to share this place that meant so much to my family before. Now we have another special moment here commemorating not only our union, but recognizing our friends and families as one ohana.