I have been a wedding planner in San Diego for 8 years and I was recently married myself. I chose to have a destination wedding in Hawaii to keep it intimate and stress free. I was engaged earlier this year to an amazing man named Carlos who I had been sharing my life with for nearly three years. He gave me a gorgeous Levian chocolate diamond ring from Kays in Fashion Valley which I absolutely love. I wanted something that reflected my uniqueness so I chose chocolate diamonds.
We set the date for an August wedding, and after planning hundreds of weddings for others, I knew I wanted something small and personal, so Carlos and I decided to have a destination wedding. While visiting Hawaii the previous Fall, I fell in love with the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort so we decided to book it!
We then asked a great friend, Api Lavatai, to officiate our wedding. We secured our ceremony music with a fantastic DJ, Ed Geer. After getting off to a great start I had a devastating injury which left me with a broken wrist and caused a pause in my life. I put the rest of the planning on hold for months. About a month before the wedding I finally started dress and decor shopping. I purchased a beautiful, ivory wedding gown with a jeweled belted waist line from Bridal and Tuxedo Galleria near my house. The staff there is fabulous but they thought I was a little crazy for waiting until a few weeks before the wedding to try on dresses, especially being an ever-organized wedding planner!
I quickly had the dress altered at Shimaki Tailoring, went shopping for jewelry and undergarments and packed. Three days before flying out we chose Carlos’s ring at Kays in Fashion Valley. We flew out and shortly landed on the big island of Hawaii! Carlos’s mom joined us and my amazing life long friend, Ruby, landed soon after. The pre wedding days were pretty tense with a lot of emotion. I had no idea how much stress and anxiety a bride truly carries right before the wedding. Did I question my choices? Yes. Did I stress out like crazy prior to the wedding? Beyond a doubt. Did I cry? I certainly did. Did people drive me crazy for calling me with questions before looking at the 5 page detailed minute-by-minute timeline I had intricately created? Absolutely! Did I know I wanted to marry my husband in spite of the craziness and arguing? Most definitely!
Ruby stayed with me the few days before the wedding at the Hilton Waikoloa. The morning of the wedding was truly awesome. Stress seemed to dissipate and every moment became dreamy. Ruby and I had a lovely breakfast at Big Island Breakfast at Water’s Edge. Live, mellow music played from the Christian retreat that was onsite. Then it all started to come together with my mom and my makeup artist / hair stylist / brother’s girlfriend arriving as well as the other very special ladies in my life.
My photographer, Al Torrico, arrived and the environment become amusing. He joked a lot which helped everyone relax. At one point he told my mom that he had just picked up the camera at Costco and hoped he had “film”. The look on her face…priceless.
It was time to see my soon to be husband for our first look photos. I walked out of my room in the gown that I had chosen just weeks before, and for the first time ever in the pre wedding stage, felt nervous. There was a long hallway I walked down to meet Carlos, who had his eyes covered and back towards me. I tapped his shoulder. When Carlos saw me, he was overjoyed, donning the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his handsome face! We couldn’t stop holding each other. The tears started flowing from my eyes and we just melted in each other’s arms. We couldn’t help but kiss (even though it was not allowed) and I knew in that moment it was all going to be amazing beyond compare. Al, our photographer, was more like a very close friend there to capture every moment. I had the pleasure of coordinating Al’s wedding in 2007 and since then he’s become a highly sought after wedding photographer!
My dad was an hour late and the leis for the guests were lost… but none of that mattered. I was getting married to the man I loved. My parents walked me down the aisle as Api, our friend/officiant and also wedding singer sang Forever. Ed Geer blew us away, doing a perfect job with the music and sound for the ceremony. As I approached the front of the church with my parents, Api looked up and started to cry, which I knew would happen! He is a big teddy bear! We had only 15 people present, our very close family and friends, and that is the intimacy we wanted. Our ceremony was small, personal and fun; we laughed so much! Carlos’s vows were perfect and heart warming…even the part where he mentioned he would still eat meat (I am mostly vegan).
After the ceremony we took some stunning sunset photos on the lava rock while our guests rode the boat over to the KPC restaurant.
Next we arrived at the restaurant to find it romantic and elegant. My friends Luana, Jezzy and Ruby all helped decorate and it was flawless. Jonathan and the staff at the KPC restaurant truly went above and beyond in service and everything was impressive. I know a big part of the reason I was able to enjoy my day was because we had picked the best venue with staff that cared about us.
At the dinner the food was delicious. My parents and Carlos’s mom toasted. I presented my bouquet to my mom because she truly is the best wife I have ever known. Our wedding cake was adorned with fresh bright Hawaiian flowers and a cute Hawaiian cake topper which kinda looked like us! We cut the cake to top off the wonderful evening with our guests.
After the reception Carlos and I entered our room and were greeted by champagne and chocolate covered strawberries given to us by Cheryl and Robin of the Hilton. They provided excellent service and helped me so much. I had a million questions when deciding on a venue and they were extremely patient and attentive! The reason I chose a destination wedding was to have a stress free and intimate celebration, and in choosing Hawaii and the Hilton Waikoloa, I accomplished that. My wedding was perfect. Even with the light rain in the morning and the crazy wind…and frizzy hair…it was spectacular. I would do it all over again. It’s a beautiful memory and I absolutely love being married!
At Your Side Planning was formerly Ah! Le Party