The best moment of my entire wedding day had to be when Nate — my partner of 11 years turned husband for all of 4 hours — leaned over to wrap me up in a bear hug on the dance floor and whispered, "This is the best night of my life."
Now, on our one year anniversary, I thought I'd share a bit more about our Big Day, and some of the ways we tried to make it as special as possible.
Prior to our wedding, a lot of people told me that the day would pass by in a sort of blur, and that I'd have to be really intentional about taking in each moment, making time for each guest, eating. And I'm sure there are weddings where that's all very true — where everything feels like it's going by so fast and that there aren't enough hours to savor it all, to make everyone feel as special as they've made you feel, and to sort of bask in the glow of all the amazingness going on around you.
But that wasn't really my experience.
I basked, people. I had an absolute blast celebrating this huge milestone with so many of our family and friends. While we may have run over time here or forgotten to do something there, it never felt that way, and I think that's the important part — when it came down to it, I loved every inch of our wedding day (give or take a freak wind/rainstorm that we won't ever mention) from start to finish because it was so genuinely us.
I think what helped was that, as we began planning our wedding, Nate and I knew right off the bat where some of our Big List Priorities were, and those few but important things helped guide everything that came after that.
We wanted a venue that ticked off all of our boxes | And thank God we found it! Now, if I'm perfectly honest, I did originally harbor dreams of a super intimate Yosemite elopement, but because I married a man who loves nothing more than a big party, we had to compromise somewhere. So I played my "must get married in the country" card, and Nate was pretty solid on wanting to get married on my home island. We also knew that we didn't want it to be the typical Hawai'i beach wedding because that never really felt like who we are. And we definitely wanted our family and close friends around not just for the ceremony and reception, but for the days surrounding the wedding too. So, 1) a country venue, 2) that wasn't the beach, and 3) could house 20-ish people for a few days as well as host the wedding and reception.
Oh hey, Puakea Ranch.
This place had it all: a beautiful reception pavilion overlooking a pool, pastures and the ocean in the distance, 5 different accommodations for our family and friends, farm fresh eggs and a garden you could gather veggies and herbs from, and there was even a horse! He came to our wedding too, and looked beautiful in his lei.
The venue was one of the big factors that made the wedding what it was. It didn't only offer an incredibly laid back and picturesque backdrop for the ceremony and reception, but so many of the people who loved got to spend the days surrounding the wedding hanging out at one of the 3 pools, BBQing, and motoring around the ranch of a golf cart.
I'm not sure I could have imagined getting married anywhere else. Not even Yosemite (maybe).
Our ceremony needed to reflect us rather than tradition-for-traditions-sake | The first thing we did when planning our ceremony was ask one of our closest friends to officiate. He was Nate's roommate when Nate and I began dating back in college, and remains one of our best friends today despite the fact that we have to travel to see one another (which we have been doing at least twice a year for almost a decade). He's always one of the first to know any of our big news, and even helped Nate to coordinate our surprise engagement! We just knew from the second we started talking Wedding that we wanted someone that really knew us, someone we know will always be in our lives, and someone that will always support our marriage, to be the one helping us to take this next step.
The second thing we did was make sure that the language of the ceremony was inclusive of our different faiths, our history and humor, and our families. We did this by incorporating special moments into the ceremony, like honoring the memory of my late grandfather (a rockbed in my life) and our families by gifting them with lei. We also offered each other our own, personal promises, and worked together to create common vows that we recited as well.
I think any and all wedding ceremonies are beautiful, no matter what you add to them or decide to set aside. As long as you both feel truly represented, and that what's said and done are honest reflections of what's in your heart, then it's all exactly how it should be.
We wanted our family and friends to be involved | Nate and I wouldn't be who we are without our community. So when we were planning our wedding, it was no surprise to us that everyone we loved chipped in. It's not easy planning a "destination wedding", so we couldn't have been more grateful for my family who took it upon themselves to do so much research and so much scouting. My older sister — a wedding coordinator and my matron of honor — also helped me to plan the entire wedding week down to a minute-by-minute schedule. And my mother spent months testing recipes until she came up with 9 different desserts and made enough for the dessert bar to feed all 100 wedding guests!
And these amazingly thoughtful and generous acts of love just barely scrape the surface of all the ways people helped Nate and I to have the most special day. There are so many to name that it'll take up a blog post all on its own, so stay tuned for a post specifically sharing all our Wedding DIYs and Details coming soon!
Venue: Puakea Ranch, Kohala, Hawai'i // Bride's dress: Elizabeth Dye's Dunaway Gown // Bridal boutique: Alt.Brides, San Francisco, CA // Bride's shoes: Bryr Clogs (ceremony), Minnetonka moccasins (reception) // Hair + Makeup: Mara McMichael // Planning: Sister of the Bride // Officiant: Close Friend of the Bride + Groom // Florals: Grace Flowers (loose stems, hanging garlands, bouquets, flower crowns, boutonnieres and petal scatter) and Absolutely Protea (loose protea stems) // Yard games: Bride's Stepdad, Mother, Niece and Nephews // Rentals: Hawaii Island Events // Set-up and Breakdown: Family of the Bride, Friends // Pupu's (Appetizers): Bride's Brother-in-Law, and Color Catering // Dinner: Color Catering // Dessert bar: Mother and Friend of the Bride // Favors: Sister of the Bride (muslin bags of Big Island coffee + Chinese tea) // Decor: Bride's Stepdad (centerpiece risers), Friends (flower arrangements and centerpieces), Groom (signage) // Bar: Friends (signature drinks and decor), Father of the Bride (supplies) // Music: Hawaii Sound + Vision // Photography: Whitney S. Boykin (gifted)