This wedding makes me want to escape to Hawaii, like, tomorrow. Just pack my bags, catch the next flight out and soak in all of the pretty the lovely little island of Oahu has in store. Next best thing? Gazing at the beautiful blooms from Flowergirls, stunning details from Michelle Garibay Events and gorgeous images from Christie Pham Photography. See it all right here in the full gallery.
From the Bride… Derek and I met when we were 18-years-old on the first day of college and instantly bonded over similar senses of humor, a love of electronic music, and an affinity for late-night diner food. We started out as neighbors, but quickly became inseparable. To the surprise of no one, we’ve been close friends ever since (Who says you can’t marry your first love?!). We dated on and off through college and finally, after being on for five years and having lived in four different cities, decided to officially keep building a life together.
My Dad has always spoken nostalgically about his time stationed in Hawaii during his young years in the military (In fact, I think that’s where his love of coconut and playing the ukulele comes from). He’s wanted to revisit the islands and bring my Mom, but of course life — and an all day flight — always managed to get in the way. A few years ago, they were planning to fly to Hawaii for their 20th wedding anniversary, but that was during the economic downturn, so regrettably, they didn’t end up making it… until now. Derek and I were so thrilled to give them (and our other guests) a special excuse to get out to the Islands and also feel so lucky that we got to share in my Mom’s first trip to and Dad’s return to Hawaii. The entire trip — including our wedding day — was so special for my parents. One of our favorite moments was when, as is a custom in Hawaiian culture, Derek placed leis around my parents’ necks (and I did the same for his Mom), at the beginning of our wedding ceremony signifying our families coming together.
Derek and I recently moved to the West Coast, but there are many cities on either coast that we could call home. After moving from place to place and traveling together so much, we’ve learned that the thing that makes your home a home is being surrounded by people you love. For our wedding, we decided on a meaningful destination that would allow the people we love to take a break from their busy lives and share in a vacation and our love of travel with us. We got engaged in Oahu and fell in love with the laid-back and romantic atmosphere so much that we wanted to share it with our family and friends back East. It was important to find a venue that was a reflection of Derek and myself, so we wanted to find a place close to a city (we love cities!), but also, since I grew up on and around the Chesapeake Bay, close to the sea. This made beautiful Lanikuhonua a natural choice! It truly is “where heaven meets earth”!
Our wedding drew from a lot of what Derek and I and our friends and family love and share in in our daily lives. We weren’t afraid to take some chances in mixing together passions from different places, eras, and parts of our life to really make the wedding ours. During our wedding planning, we tried to steer away from tradition for the sake of tradition or anything to which we didn’t feel a personal connection — skipping on seating plans, a long ceremony, a traditional wedding cake, first dances, and other formalities. Instead, we focused on the fun and ease of an intimate celebration just for us and our close friends and family.
Some components of the wedding were very location-based and locally-inspired such as the Hawaiian music and hula performances, fire knife dancing performances, gifts of orchid leis, and food options such as the shave ice, while other components were inspired by different parts of our lives, like our love of design, technology, play, travel, and food. Creative personal touches were added through paper goods that I designed and put together myself or with design flourishes found while browsing in our local city of Seattle or on arts and crafts sites like Etsy.
Since our wedding was in Hawaii, we took full advantage of the fact people were vacationing and ready to have fun before, during, and after the event. Derek and I met our guests as they arrived on the Oahu which allowed us to catch up and go road tripping, snorkeling, beach walking, surfing, bar hopping and sunbathing before the ceremony. My parents also hosted a “Welcome to Hawaii” cocktail hour which allowed our guests to get acquainted if they weren’t already, or catch up before the big day. Perhaps the most memorable activity in which several of our friends partook was skydiving over the North Shore the day after the ceremony.
Many of the guests have never been to Hawaii so we wanted to give them a fun Hawaiian welcome. Each guest received an orchid lei and souvenir images of themselves from the photo booth. Derek and I also didn’t want to burden our guests with fuller suitcases on the way home — so we made a donation to a digital rights group on their behalf.
We wanted our wedding gifts for our parties to be practical but also special reminders of their time in Hawaii that would be used more than once. The bridesmaids received beautiful jewelry from Tiffany’s that matched their tastes and personalities. The groomsmen received Wayfarers because who doesn’t need vintage sunglasses in Hawaii? They also received custom made key chains personalized with their initials inscribed in binary which was an endearing a personal touch on the part of Derek, a self-proclaimed nerd.
The theme was a bit of beach plus Hawaiian culture with a dash of garden party. We were looking to celebrate our past, present and future lives together, so we mixed styles, eras, personal traditions and interests. The music was a wonderful local artist playing traditional Hawaiian music with the accompaniment of Hula dancers that created a romantic atmosphere and brought touches of beautiful Hawaiian culture to the wedding. We also had a fire knife dancer that added a lot of energy and overall awesomeness to the reception.
Visually, we decided on a beach-inspired, but romantic color palette in mint green, sandy gray and peach with lots of geometric and contrasting organic texture. The full, luscious flowers in the bouquets as well as on the tables were chosen to compliment the other design elements and match the shape and texture of my wedding gown. We also chose table settings which would accentuate the whimsy and romance of the day by using chevron runners and several different vessels for lush florals. I also adore the romantic but fierce Ghost Chairs we used that, like our wedding, are a mixture of both new and old style.
Derek and I both love food, so we wanted to get away from the whole idea that wedding food needs to be inaccessible or mass-produced and went with local chefs cooking simply and naturally with great local ingredients, infusing our event with additional Hawaiian flavor. From the pupus to the several course dinner, we wanted to provide people with approachable but upscale choices, sometimes offering bar food options like pork sliders, evoking the sense that you’re at a family gathering or cookout. Derek and I brought specialty bottles of cachaca to Hawaii for our signature beverage, a mint-colored caipirinha, that was presented in mason jars with decorative straws.
We also decided on a dessert table with several cupcake flavors and a delightful shaved ice station which are both options you might see at an outdoor party or Hawaiian event. The beautiful cake was a simple chevron design with a whimsical bloom while the cupcakes were adorned with striped flags.
Finally, I think a big theme of the wedding had to be adventure. All the wonderful people who showed up to the wedding who travelled halfway around the world and made the day so fabulous came because they are not afraid of an adventure!
As a visual and interaction designer, I knew from the get go there were important visual details I wanted to attend to myself for the wedding day, but there were a lot of ideas that I didn’t know how to articulate yet (or weren’t even on my radar).
Michelle and I work wonderfully as a team. She’s good at keeping track of the big picture and small details and presenting/articulating the design space and all of the options to us. It was important for us to find a wedding planner whose taste aligned with ours since planning from afar can be a huge challenge and it’s not hands-on in the same way that other brides experience. We weren’t able to meet with any of our vendors until a week prior to the wedding, so we trusted in Michelle’s expertise when it came to making recommendations. Also, since we don’t have any prior experience with wedding planning, she became our guide in all things related to weddings. Michelle did a beautiful job of being flexible, listening and responding to us and presenting us with the right people who matched the vision we developed together at the beginning. Finally, working with Michelle meant she gave me the freedom to input my own ideas and design the elements that were important to me, which really helped us to teamwork to bring life to the original vision.
From Michelle Garibay Events… Working with Kari and Derek on their destination wedding was such a joy! They are true dream clients. They were both equally involved in the planning process but each had their specific priorities and in the end, everything came together beautifully! Kari and I hit it off from the first phone call and designing a wedding where the bride had such an eye for design and detail, made my job fun and easy. We were both so excited when we met for the first time after our 11 month partnership just one day before the wedding!
Kari had a specific vision for their wedding so I assembled a top notch team of vendors to bring everything to fruition. She loved the romantic, muted tones of peach, seafoam and gray but also wanted a touch of contemporary elegance. The floral designs and chandeliers were more vintage in style and we added some more modern pieces in the ghost chairs and lounge furniture. I paid homage to her graphic design background and incorporated a bolder chevron print into her table runners and cake. Kari’s playful side was reflected in more whimsical elements like the Viewfinder save the date (which was super adorable!) and her paper elements, like the cupcake flags and paper straws for their signature cocktail, the Caipirinha. Kari even designed her own invitation suite and menu cards!
Along with the décor, food and the guest experience was very important to them and Chef Peter blew everyone away with the 5 course plated menu. Everything tasted as amazing as it looked. From the seared scallops to the melt in your mouth pork shoulder, service and presentation were impeccable. Such a superstar team to work with!
This is one of those weddings that us consultants dream about…a fun and stylish wedding vision, a super cool and head over heels in love couple, in synch and on the same wave length throughout the planning process and beautifully orchestrated wedding day from start to finish with rave reviews – and in Hawaii – who could complain about that?
Photography: Christie Pham Photography | Flowers: Flowergirls | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang | Bride's Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN | Catering: Memoirs | Bride's Clutch: Vintage | Bride's Hair & Makeup: Maleana Cosmetics | Bride's Headpiece: Vera Wang | Bride's Wedding Band: Tiffany & Co. | Bridesmaids' Accessories: Tiffany & Co. | Cake & Cupcakes: Cake Works | Charger Plates & Dessert Pedestals: Event Essentials | Equipment Rentals: Accel Rentals | Event Design & Planning: Michelle Garibay Events | Ghost Chairs, Vintage Chandeliers & Lounge Furniture: Mood Event | Groom & Groomsmen Accessories: Ray-Ban | Groom & Groomsmen Attire: J.Crew | Groom's Wedding Band: Vintage | Linen & Napkins: Les Saisons | Paper Details: DIY, The Bride | Shave Ice: Erin's Shave Ice | Venue: Lanikuhonua