It’s always a good day on SMP, but when one of our Little Black Bookers says I do, it’s time to break out the bubbly. And trust me when I say there is a lot to toast to when it comes to the stunning Maui wedding of Lee of Sugar Beach Events. The contemporary styling, the gorgeous florals from Maui Floral, the picture perfect images from Anna Kim Photography - we’ll cheers all day to this gorgeous gallery. And you can see why here.
From Grace Delivers Communications…Chef Lee McBride was prepping for her dream wedding since birth. Lee is Chef/Owner of Sugar Beach Events, Maui’s most exclusive full-service oceanfront wedding venue and catering facility, which opened in August of 2013. Ten months later on June 7, Chef Lee walked down her aisle on the arms of both her fathers to marry a man whom she had her first date with twenty-five years before.
Carl and Lee met while in the marching band at the University of South Carolina. This tall, beautiful, bold member of the color guard caught the drummer’s eye performing during a Gamecock football game and they had a date in fall of 1989. It took them twenty-three years to have their second date, joining each other from halfway around the world.
Lee was living in Maui, and reconnected with Carl on Facebook. Both going through separations, their friendship was rekindled through email and texting that later turned romantic. In May 2012, the pair decided to meet for a three-day weekend in Chicago and explore the rekindling of their connection. The sparks flew, and three months later Carl moved to Maui to be with Lee. A little over a year later, the couple got engaged Christmas Eve of 2013.
Lee had been living on Maui since 2005. She moved to Maui to join her biological father, Don Nelson, who had visions of building a grand wedding venue on the coast of this gorgeous Pacific Island. Lee, a chef and restaurant management consultant prior to moving to Maui, dreamed of having a catering company.
The story gets even a little more sweet. Don Nelson is a famous basketball player and coach, a celebrated five-time national championship player and the most winning coach in NBA history. Lee, who was adopted at birth, was contacted by her biological mother at the age of 28. A friendship developed, and Lee was informed that she was conceived during a brief relationship, and that her father was unaware of her existence. You can imagine Don’s surprise when thirty years later, he received a letter in the mail from his daughter. Don and his daughter united in 1997, and it was easy to see the father-daughter team had much more than genes in common.
What they manifested together was something completely unique to Maui; offering all services to a bride-in-planning at a unique location that is on one of the most beautiful long stretches of sandy beach on the island. Lee’s reconnection and the planning of her dream wedding with Carl was just kismet to the story.
“What I love about weddings is that you spend an amazing evening with the love of your life, surrounded by the love of family and friends. I wanted an intimate wedding that reflected our unique personalities, with something new and remarkable at every turn. I have a flair for drama, and wanted to keep elements hidden from our guests. My day truly was the day of my dreams and it was perfect for us.“
Lee and Carl’s is a story of love and acceptance, and the beauty that comes from the unknown: family to family, friends, bride to groom, and everything in between. We are all on the same team in the game of love.
“I always think of an event or wedding celebration as a beautiful journey we invite guests to take with us from the minute they arrive until the last dance of the night. That concept became almost literal when I began to imagine how to include everything Lee loved in this perfectly decadent Mediterranean themed love fest for Lee & Carl.” Sugar Beach Event Planner Yvette Crosby
Lee wore a one-shoulder style gown in soft chiffon. The bride had wanted something different; classic, yet modern, comfortable and able to flow in the Maui breeze. She chose a short, fun reception dress to accompany the dance celebration, something that would complement the disco ball chandelier and highlight her long legs and heels. The glass beads on the reception dress caught the lights and were a crazy, sparkly dance party dream.
All in all, the wedding was an eclectic mix of design elements, style, and color, married together in a fun, playful, casually elegant, and intimate setting. It began at the entry with ribbons of purple, teal, and lime green streaming in the wind and giant LOVE letters proclaiming the theme of the day. The couple had taken a trip to Europe the year before, and loved Italy. Lee envisioned a courtyard in an Italian square, which started a vision of the Old World mixed with the contemporary. For cocktails and dinner, it was the Old World feel, with dining al fresco with a canopy of twinkling lights under the starry tropical night sky. Dancing was modern and contemporary, like a club on the French Riviera. Zebra print candle shades were the bride’s favorite!
Lee emerged for her walk down the aisle like a Greek goddess stepping from a cloud of soft sheer white drapes billowing in the wind. The dramatic and romantic beginning was accented by Lee’s walk down the aisle on the arms of both her fathers. She approached her Adonis groom standing in front of a modern arch draped asymmetrically to echo the lines of her gown. Simple wooden benches matched the arch and provided guest seating. Carl’s father, a Baptist minister, married the couple, adding a touching and personal element to the ceremony. As Lee and Carl sealed their vows with a kiss and turned to greet their guests, a flurry of purple ribbons filled the air and repeated the ribbon celebration from the venue entrance.
On the menu was a Tuscan feast with a sophisticated focaccia bread bar, taking place under the stars reflecting the bride’s love of Italian cuisine, cooking, and countryside. Cocktails were served oceanside in an Italian Riviera setting that then led guests into an outdoor dining pavilion. Starting with passed appetizers, guests were then encouraged to enjoy the anti-pasta and bread cart. Highlighting the product of The Olive Crush out of San Francisco, flavorful olive oils and balsamic vinegars were available for guests to create their own special flavors and dip to their heart’s content.
Before dinner, a canoe coming from the sea at sunset surprised guests, delivering Kimokea for a special surprise blessing for the couple. Kimokea and a few attendants were barefoot and dressed in kihei (traditional Hawaiian attire of brightly colored fabric). Walking onshore and into the center of the dining area, he delivered the bride and groom a traditional Hawaiian marriage blessing through an ancient chant.
A plated salad was served, and then an action station and buffet of Italian specialties offered guests a sampling of favorites, like chicken piccata, eggplant Parmesan, steamed mussels and clams, and Kobe meatballs. The chefs created personal pasta dishes for each guest, offering pesto, alfredo, and marinara sauces to go over a choice of pastas and vegetables. The cake was a seven layer chocolate cake with lilikoi cream filling.
The draping kept the amazing lounge setup from view until after dinner when the doors opened and the band welcomed guests. The sheer drapes billowed out to welcome attendees into a Monte Carlo disco setting replete with a huge custom made disco ball chandelier, zebra candle lamps on cocktail club tables, and elegant lounge settings. A checkerboard dance floor invited everyone onto center stage, to groove to a seven piece live band. A fabulously sophisticated photo booth with a custom backdrop gave guests the chance to capture the moment in between visits to the gourmet coffee and dessert bar.
The bride had stumbled across a cake design on Pinterest that caught her eye, a bold and statement-making piece of confection art. She reached out to the designer, Cecile, who happened to be retired and living in Kauai. It was a proprietary technique that Cecile had worked on for thirty years to reach perfection. The construction of the cake was very unique in that there were smaller tiers under larger tiers, which gave a lot of dimension and depth. Lee’s pastry chef, Natalie, worked with Cecile for months to recreate the cake, testing layers and sending emails back and forth in critique. A collar for the top tier and a few decorative chocolate “buttons” complemented green and purple lines on the chocolate fondant, and this chocolate cake with a lilikoi filling was a hit!
Photography: Anna Kim Photography | Videography: Ohana Films | Flowers: Maui Floral | Ceremony Venue: Sugar Beach Events | Reception Venue: Sugar Beach Events | Hair: Dan Sanchez Salon | Band: Shea Derrick And Full Flavor | Cello: Sue Nuckols | Decor: Winters Events | Decor: Rio Events | Decor: Hawaiian Rents | Decor: Maui Tunes | Decor: Opihi Love | Decor: Pacific Island Rentals | Engagement Shots: Chris J. Evans Photography | Harp: Kristine Snyder | Makeup: Dacia Waller | Photo Booth: Bamboo Shootz | Public Relations: Grace Delivers Communications | Violin: Michele Ancheta