After an amazing courtship, one that included endless miles flown between Hawaii and New Orleans, health scares and time differences, this couple was ready to celebrate with one amazing party. And what better way to pay homage to their story than to incorporate both locales into their design. Flowergirls worked their magic and Rebecca Arthurs captured every fleur de lis; see this amazing combo right here.
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From Oahu Weddings… With the bride in medical school in New Orleans and the groom working in Hawaii, Mary and J’s wedding held a flair that naturally became centered around a “New Orleans meets Hawaii” theme that paid homage to their love of their respective locales. They selected a beautiful garden setting at the JW Marriott Ihilani Hotel to showcase the beauty of Hawaii, and enhanced it with French-flair décor that represented New Orleans. Stacey Nomura from Bradley and Lily custom-created a motif of a fleur de lis using banana leaves to enhance their invitations and stationary, while the bride’s Lazaro Gown and Jimmy Choo shoes wowed in lace details. Flowergirls, Les Saisons and Oahu Wedding collaborated with the bride and groom to create the most darling details, from the ceremony ribbon backdrop to the most ornate napkin embellishments. Guests were welcomed to the reception through an inviting gate adorned with escort cards to a garden wonderland of farm tables, lush flowers and chandeliers suspended above. Following dinner, guests retreated indoors to a ballroom filled with ruched draping, a dessert bar, a fabulous cake lounge, and an evening filled with the most festive dancing, including traditional family dances that paid homage to the groom’s heritage.
From The Bride… J and I met in college at Tulane University in New Orleans. After college, we went our separate ways, him back to Hawaii to work at Chevron and I pursued my medical career in New Orleans. We were acquaintances on Facebook. One day, he started messaging me after I posted a status about musubi, a staple food of Hawaii. We chatted via social media for several months and he effortlessly convinced me to visit him in Hawaii during my vacation. He was very sweet. He took a week off from work to chauffeur and show my best friend, Kim, and I around the island of Oahu. By the end of the trip, I remember telling Kim that this was a man that I could marry.
Between January and February, J visited me in New Orleans twice; once, he traveled a total of 36 hours to see me for less than 24. We started dating in February. It was not a typical relationship. I was busy with my residency in New Orleans and he was working long hours in Hawaii. We wrote letters to each other often, sometimes a few a day; we figured out a phone and texting schedule despite our time zone differences; and we visited each other every chance we had. What impressed me the most about J is his love for his family and his desire to take care of me. A few months into our relationship, I found out that I had a tumor. Given my family history of cancer, I knew the odds were against me. Despite the fact that we were only dating for three months, he offered to fly in to take care of me after the surgery. The tumor turned out to be benign.
A year and a half and more than a thousand letters later, J visited me in New Orleans in August 2013. He had just taken up photography and told me he needed a model for his pictures at Tulane. He had set up his camera so that he can control the picture-taking from his phone. We went from building to building. We finally settled in front of a building with a swing on the porch. I sat on the swing and he walked behind me and told me to give him my left hand. I was a clutz but after several tries my left hand was finally where he wanted it to be. I sat on the swing facing the camera as he grabbed my hand from behind me and I felt something on his pinky finger. I turned and stared at the ring awkwardly as the camera started snapping photos of the moment. I finally realized what was going on. He then walked around the swing, got on one knee, held my hands and asked, “Mary Yu, will you marry me?” And I exclaimed, “YES!!!”
I was never the girl who had her wedding planned since sixth grade. The following months were overwhelming, trying to balance work along with planning a wedding 5,000 miles away. I knew there was no way I would be able to do this on my own. Stacy, a dear friend of J’s from South Shore Paperie where J had gotten most of the stationery for the letters he sent me, suggested Diana from Oahu Weddings. At that point I only had vague ideas. I knew I wanted stripes, musubi and the décor to match my Lazaro gown. I want the wedding to be elegant and romantic but not with overpowering sweetness that it loses character; I wanted it to have personality.
Most of the inspiration for wedding décor ideas came from Pinterest. Diana helped materialize these ideas and made it our own. As most of our guests were from out of town, so we wanted to make it as personal and fun for our guests as possible. J and I also wanted both of our backgrounds to be reflected in the wedding. Our invitations have the fleur de lis, which is an emblem of New Orleans, and is made up of ti leaves, which is reflective of Hawaii. We brought Mardi Gras umbrellas from New Orleans and decorated them ourselves. After the ceremony, we second-lined (which is a New Orleans wedding tradition) with the rest of the wedding party into the reception. One of J’s family traditions was a march to “La Marcha de Zacatecas.” After dinner, the procession to the dance floor was led by his aunt and uncle, followed by the bride and groom and all the guests.
Photography: Rebecca Arthurs | Wedding Planner: Oahu Wedding | Floral Design: Flowergirls | Cake: Cakeworks | Stationery: Bradley And Lily | Hair & Makeup: Maleana Cosmetics | Lighting: Mood Event | DJ: Tony So | Ceremony & Reception: JW Marriott Ihilani Hotel | Linen, Pipe And Drape, Farm Tables: Les Saisons | Rentals - Chairs: Chair Cover Express | Rentals - Chargers: Event Essentials | Rentals - Plates: Royal Party Rentals | Rentals – Flatware: Set