Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why Choose Hawaii Island for Your Wedding?

Those who have either been to or dreamt of the Hawaiian Islands have heard them call "come to me, come to me...". From the ultra blue water and skies that change color at dawn and dusk, to the scent of the very air the moment you step from the plane, these islands are softly alluring. Hawaii's romance is a guitar softly playing as waves lap against the shoreline in the moonlight, while your hand lingers on the sun warmed skin of your lover.

Hawaii Island is where you will find Kilauea Volcano, lava churning and spilling down the sides of the mountain, falling in burning orange rivers down the cliffs into the sea.  It is where the ferns of the rainforest grow to be thirty feet tall, and the curved beak red apapane greets you with a morning song in mid-canopy of the rainforest when you stay in a treehouse for your honeymoon.

On Hawaii Island you will find world class dining
You may choose amongst the oceanfront restaurants of Kohala and Kona, where in the winter time the whales breach and spout as the sun goes down and the sky changes through an array of colors from gold to deepest red or brilliant pink, from peach tones to gleaming carnelians then purple.  You can arrange for a special post wedding photo shoot to capture those colors that have decorated your evenings on the Kohala Coast.  The musicians who so casually entertain you as you enjoy your evening meal are among the finest in their genre.

When you choose Hawaii for your wedding,  you will then select a destination within your destination. Many hotels offer wedding services on site. Should you prefer something more personalized and private, wedding coordinators like Mahinui Na Lani can help you find the venue that meets your expectations, whether beachfront, rainforest, waterfall, or private residence.  All details are handled according to your wishes.  Your ceremony and celebration will unfold like your fondest dreams of Hawaiian paradise.
PO Box 531 Laupahoehoe HI 96764

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Best of the Best Hawaii Wedding Destinations

Aloha from Hawaii Island.

When you begin planning a Hawaii wedding while living on the mainland, or on some other continent, what you will notice right away is there are so many choices it can be bewildering. Maybe you have a picture floating in your mind of how your wedding will look or even how it will feel.  Or perhaps you have the romance of Hawaii firmly rooted in your being, and being married in Hawaii is perfection.

Where do you start?

Your venue matters.  Many people think of a beach wedding, and that can absolutely be your first choice.  Bear in mind that all beaches in Hawaii are public.  Some are more remote than others, and if very remote, getting there can pose difficulties you do not want as part of your wedding day. The very best way to have a beach wedding in Hawaii is to rent a beach house. We have thoroughly researched what is out there, and frequently check all over again. There is one rental house that is a complete stand out from everything else.  It gives you privacy, a lovely lawn, beach beyond, and an open lanai leading into the house itself that is gorgeous.  It has a turquoise infinity pool and sumptuous interior.

The lanai of this house is broad and deep enough to hold several tables for the wedding feast, and beyond the pool is the beach.   Picture this lanai simply decorated with hanging candles in glass bubbles at sunset, the tables in pristine white linen, table runners of tropical flowers with candles nestled amongst them.

The venue cost for this house is $4000 for up to 50 guests.  If you rent the house at $1500 a day for 4 nights, the venue cost drops to $2000.  Cost of table and chair rental is additional.   When you choose this as your wedding location, we take care of every detail while you relax and think about how spectacular it will all be.

This home offers you a level of privacy simply not attainable at a resort, and the cost is about half what you would expect to pay for the use of a comparable home at the island's premier Kohala Coast resort complex.

At the right you will see a large and enchanting older structure from the sugar cane days.  This location is just outside Hilo, and is available as a wedding destination.  The cost to use this venue includes their wedding tent, as well as the set up and removal of the tent after your celebration. The cost for tent and venue is $3800 for up to 4 hours, and $4200 for up to 6 hours.  What you get is a venue for large celebrations and privacy. The beauty of the location is rooted in its history and ultra tropical location.  Future blogs will have some photos of the grounds.

We can arrange for large weddings here and coordinate catering and decor.  Specialty lighting, live music, lei, a profusion of island flowers, an amazing cake, your photography and videography, sounding of the sacred triton shell and custom ceremony are all a part of what you can expect should you choose this venue and ask us to handle the details.

The venue costs can be pushed way down by staging your celebration at a beach park.  Costs for the tent, chairs and tables will drop price by 2/3.  However, you will sacrifice privacy, and not have the use of the kitchen for catering.  This venue adds the option of a sunset wedding, whereas beach parks close their gates when the sun goes down.  An East Hawaii sunset means colors in the sky but no setting sun in your eyes as the sun sinks low on the horizon.

Our specialty continues to be weddings in the pavilion at Kilauea volcano.  If you are planning a small destination wedding, this setting can be yours. The pavilion is perfect for a romantic wedding or civil union if it is just the two of you, or if you are including a few people who matter most.  The $2500 cost includes everything, even a 2 night honeymoon stay in the treehouse nearby.  For a look at the treehouse, come visit it virtually on Facebook at Hawaii Treehouse.

What is everything, you may wonder.  Flowers and music, cake and a toast.  Custom ceremony.  Tiki torches if your celebration is late in the day.  Candle light.  The sacred triton shell is sounded to announce the beginning of your celebration.  You will have the use of the chalet on the grounds to dress and relax before the ceremony.  You will have fully edited professional photographs to commemorate your ceremony, digitally delivered and easily converted to a photo book or slide show or video.

The caterers we use can offer you resort quality menus and preparation of the highest caliber.

If you have friends who need a place to spend the night, the chalet is available.  If you would like to spend the night before at the chalet, that too may be arranged.

Our goal is to give you the wedding of your dreams and desires with no stress, always with an eye on your costs.

We leave you now with an East Hawaii sunset as illustration of just how glorious they can be.

Contact information: or by phone  808-238-0633

Mahalo nui loa ~ thank you so much!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weddings, Wedding Planners, and Costs

Aloha!  Today there are three photos of candles on the page.  These photos will illustrate how weddings can end up costing less rather than more, and how a wedding planner is invaluable as you put together your wedding.

At the right is a simple candle in glass.  There are bits of fern from our rainforest, called uluhe, tied to the candle with a bit of raffia.  The fern fronds shield the candle flame from the eyes, and bring a perky bit of rainforest feel to the candle.  As it happens, this candle treatment is a bit work intensive.  The fern pieces need to be gathered and trimmed, as in their natural state they are too long and curly to be of much use for this.  Then they have to be tied to the candle.  Prep time for say 40 candles will be maybe 3 hours.  If you add an hourly wage of $15 for someone to put this together, this adds $45 to your wedding costs.
This is not a lot in the grand picture, but as it happens, almost every addition to a wedding carries a cost.  It can be mind boggling if you are paying for your wedding a la carte.  At Rainforest Weddings, we try not to charge a la carte prices.  Instead, we try to work within your budget.

To the left is another candle treatment.  A piece of ribbon is tied in a bow on the same candle.  The ribbon can match any color scheme.  It can tie into the orchids or other flowers for the wedding, match the bride's sash, be white...  This is not nearly as work intensive.  Although the cost to the planner is higher for the materials, the time to tie 40 pieces of ribbon to 40 candles is only about an hour.  Savings:  not $30 as there is a cost for the ribbon.  So, $25 or $20.

Are you thinking, maybe you will do this yourself?  On your wedding day?  Maybe you have a friend who will do this.  Savings:  $35 - $40!

We are not counting the costs of placing the candles, as that will be the same no matter what.  Where will they go?  If depends on your venue.  Perhaps on a railing, like this one.  Perhaps defining the edge of a swimming pool, or as part of the table decor.

At the right is choice number three.  The flame is clearly visible here.  If the candle glass was frosted, the flame would be hidden.  Maybe you like the look of the flame.  And, notice how the ribbon color matches the orchid.  And there is the uluhe in its natural form.  For this treatment the uluhe still must be gathered, and the orchid purchased, and those costs are absorbed at Rainforest Weddings into the standard package.  The placement is also absorbed in a standard package.  Savings on this treatment is $45.

The wedding planner ~ where does the wedding planner factor in?   Wherever your wedding will take place, there are things to think about.  Lighting is one of them.  When you rent a venue, you get the house lights.  Candles are more romantic.  How many candles do you need?  Where will they be?  Are they going to be an important source of light, or mainly for the mood? And how much do you want to spend on candles?

At Rainforest Weddings, when we do everything at our own venue, we include candles in the basic package price, with the orchids and ferns included.  When we go off site and have to bring everything along, the pricing is different.

If you were to go online and purchase candles like this, you might end up with votives in glass, and those are different.  They will burn out after a couple of hours. Tea lights burn out even faster, and are not good at staying lit. The candles need to be lit before the guests arrive.  We use candles with a 9 hour life.  Your chances of spending from $7 to $10 per candle are pretty good.  That is $280 to $400 for 40 candles.  And if you need 80, the costs begin to crescendo.  We will not spend your money like that.  If you are spending $280 for candles with us, maybe you are getting candles suspended in glass bubbles because in your dream wedding there is that effect.  It is costing more because having just sourced glass bubbles the best we can do for the cost of each is $11.  And that is without the candle.  You probably will not need forty bubbles.  But chances are you will need 40 candles, or like one wedding, "a million" candles.  We asked for a candle budget, and it was $200.  They had a dazzling array.

Maybe you are wondering what you are paying the wedding planner, and if it is worth it.  At Rainforest Weddings, you get a wedding planner, with every package.  You can't have a wedding here without the planner.  The cost is built in to the package.  Elsewhere, you will pay $60 an hour, or perhaps $1500 to start.  What you get is a wedding where someone else thinks through every little detail and makes sure everything is as you wish and dream.  That someone will look after you like a fairy godmother.  And when you walk into your wedding, it will be like magic.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dreams Come True

Rainforest Weddings began as an idea that it is possible to have a elopement style wedding that has in it such elements of romance that it brings to life dreams of a fairytale wedding.

It began with the forest itself, emerald green understory of giant ferns, mossy paths, swaying ohia high overhead.  We found a high point in the forest, and added a Balinese style pavilion for creating private space and shelter.  We had an altar carved with shell ginger flowers, the flowers that grow at the end of the drive onto the grounds.  The altar converts to a bar for parties, and serves to add a sense of the sacred to the place that is already heavily imbued with the aura of Pele.  This is her sacred forest, and you can feel that as you walk up the mossy path set with beach washed lava stones.

Fire bowls bring Pele's element right into the pavilion and add warmth to cool afternoons and evenings.  Tiki torches illuminate the path.  Balinese benches and moss green velvet chenille upholstered chairs provide seating.

Island flowers such as the ones pictured to the left flank the pavilion entry.  The flowers that greet you there always depend on what is in season.  An ultra large arrangement of island flowers adorns the altar, usually a mix of anthurium, ginger, heliconia, fern, orchids, maybe bird of paradise, tuberose - again, the flowers of the season.

Clusters of candles sit amidst greens from the forest upon the railings.  A crystal and sea glass chandelier hangs overhead.  When you look out into the forest, you overlook the mid canopy of tree ferns due to the elevation of the pavilion.  In summer and fall, you will find the fragrance of ginger and tufts of bright yellow flowers.  Orchids planted in the ohia and hapu'u re-bloom year round.

And this is just the setting.  It is also just one setting, one venue, you may choose from for your remarkable island wedding.  If a beachfront wedding is what you have in mind, there are some locations that are far more spectacular and more private than others.

If you bring us your dream, it is with the same sense of place and beauty and respect we brought to our forest, to Pele's forest, that we will help you make that dream happen on this island.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Planning a Hawaii Island Wedding?

Aloha.  Welcome to our beautiful island.  Today you visit virtually, and if you are thinking about a Hawaii Island wedding, you will be here for real soon enough.

The Buddha face to the left represents the serenity we try to create for you as a wedding experience.  We have performed ceremonies and put together wedding packages both including our venue or others for many couples, in all seasons.  There are probably hundreds of purveyors of Hawaii weddings, and hundreds more vendors who provide the myriad parts that go into a wedding.

What are those parts?  The most basic piece is the venue.  Many people want a beach wedding.  There are beaches here, some of them white and pristine and remote, some black and oft visited by tour buses, one green, some golden.  All Hawaiian beaches are public.  The rules as to the use of the beach for weddings are such that many celebrants who have no venue to offer in particular will not do a beach wedding.  You may have seen photos of beautiful arches decorated with flowing silks and draped with orchids.  Those cannot go on the sand in Hawaii.  It's a rule.  So if you want a wedding with an arch, what do you do?  You will need to pay for a venue.  You may be thinking, wait, I have been to countless Hawaiian beaches and there are those pop-up pavilions all over the place.  I have seen Beach parks with wall to wall canopies where tarps are tied to poles, and you say I cannot have a beautiful arch?  It is not me who says that, but Hawaii.  You can have your beautiful arch on the lawn, and if you look closely, you will see those canopies are on the lawn too.  At private venues.

The very best way to have a beach wedding in Hawaii is to rent a house on the beach.  Our favorite beachfront location will run you $10,000 all inclusive, with the use of the house for three nights.  This includes your wedding dinner served to you ocean front or food served party style for up to 30 guests.  And your cake.  And your photography.  If you can afford a $10,000 wedding, and you want it in the sun, at the beach, in Hawaii, this is an elegant and happy choice.  And if your have more than 30 guests, this venue can be used for up to 50.

There are open air parks in Hawaii, and for celebrations in the out of doors on this island, there are tent rentals.  When you bring a tent to a wedding, you will be wanting to decorate those poles and probably drape the interior ceiling part.  To get it looking spectacular will require two people working a full half day each, at minimum, and that is after they bring in the greenery and flowers and drapes.  You may be thinking, why would I need a tent in Hawaii?  The answer is that it can rain anywhere, any time.  If you choose a dry side wedding in the summer or fall, your chances of not needing shelter from rain are better.  But then it is hot, and your guests will like shade.  For any outdoor wedding in Hawaii, a tent is a good investment.  If you find a house to rent on the island for your party with an open air pavilion, you will not need the tent.  Count on spending $1000 or more for a tent rental, delivery etc and decor to dress it up.

There are beach pavilions in Hawaii you can reserve.  The cost is very slight.  However, these pavilions have tables bolted down inside so you do not have floor space underneath, but tables.  This works nicely for having a sit down meal, but is not conducive to a wedding where people are watching the event.  Mostly these pavilions are used for birthday parties.

There are non-beachfront rental houses on the island that have grounds and sometimes covered spaces amenable to weddings.  The typical way these places do business is they have a fee for the use of the grounds for the wedding.  That fee may be $1000 or $4000 or $8500.  It is important to consider what you may have to bring in if the rental house is not fully equipped for an outdoor wedding.  There should be shelter for the wedding party in event of rain, shade from intense sun.  If not, shelter will need to be brought in. This can amp up the price considerably - figure $1000 for a tent with decor.  You will not want naked poles and a pop-up style ceiling, but soft drapes and flowers.

There is a lovely bed and breakfast on the Hamakua coast, on the east side of the island, that offers a wedding option.  When you open the page and see how the pricing structure is, they break down each part of the venue and charge a fee.  So it costs $250 to dress inside and have the bride come down the staircase.  There is a separate charge for use of the grounds, with a per person charge of $50 added onto  that, and in fact there are 3 separate site fees, all necessary to have the wedding.  The fees each go up with additional people, and the bride and groom must be guests of the facility.  To have the place to yourselves, all 8 rooms must be reserved, at a cost of $5800.  This is one of the prettiest locations on the island, and the cost of having a private wedding there tops $10,000 for a party of 16 without any decor, lei, food, drink, or taxes.  And they also have an hourly charge to talk to them.

There are also wedding services at nearly all the hotels.  It is the nature of hotels that their grounds are public.  This means that people will stroll by, and may stop and watch.  And talk.  Many hotels have private residences on site that may be reserved for weddings or simply for privacy.  Count on paying $5000 a night on up for these, usually with a seven night minimum.

Welcome to our wedding pavilion.
Here you have shelter from rain and sun, a hardwood floor, a carved altar.  We do not demand that anyone be our overnight guests, although most couples opt for a treehouse honeymoon.  There is a house on the grounds, and not only do we include its use  for the day in our standard fee, we make it available for guests of the bride and groom to spend the night.

The orchids you see flanking the entry are part of the decor, included in our pricing.  If you look closely behind the orchids on the left, you can see the sumptuous tropical bouquet gracing the altar.  No additional charge.  And outside the pavilion, everywhere you look are giant tree ferns and tall swaying ohia trees.  The path to the pavilion is lit by tiki torches, lined with anthurium and orchids. There will be seasonal orchids at the entrance for your wedding.  After your ceremony, they will be planted in the tree ferns along the path - the hapu'u.  Should you return for an anniversary stay at the chalet on the grounds, you may revisit your wedding flowers, perhaps in bloom again.

We love doing weddings, and will find a way for you to have the wedding of your dearest delight on our island.  We will do what we can to help you stay in budget.  Our prices include our conversations, and all the planning needed.  $2500.  That is for an intimate wedding in the pavilion with live music, the sounding of the triton shell, on site photography, lei, cake, use of the house on site before the wedding and after for guests as well, and a two night treehouse stay for the bride and groom.  We are on top of the volcano, with rainforest all around.  Private.  Emerald green forest, birdsong, orchids in the trees.  It is magical.  Clearly we will go elsewhere, but elsewhere there are significant additional costs.

as always, prices shown are subject to change.  These are prices in effect as of this writing August 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pavilion & Big Island Oceanside Weddings with Price List

Aloha and welcome to Rainforest Weddings.  Our specialty is intimate small scale weddings at either our own venue, the rainforest pavilion, or at certain island locations such as not-so-public beaches or oceanside outdoor sites.

The photo at the left shows the last part of the natural path through the forest into the pavilion.  The beach washed lava forms shallow steps.  As you enter the pavilion, you walk between a Sugi pine and a hapu'u tree fern.  A bromeliad grows at the foot of the hapu'u.  Tiki torches help light the path.  Moss forms a soft carpet along the perimeter of the path.

Beyond the pavilion, the views are out into the forest of kahili ginger, hapu'u, Sugi pines, ohia trees, orchids and other epiphytes and bromeliads.  The chalet on the grounds is hidden from view by the forest.

The photo at the right shows the carved altar and wedding altar piece of heliconia, ginger, anthurium and orchids, as you walk up the stairs into the pavilion, between a display of living orchids.

During a wedding, candles burn on the altar.  There is island music.

A vintage chandelier reworked with glass and crystal beads and copper wire wrapped sea glass provides lighting at the right side of the pavilion.

Carved Balinese benches provide seating.

Firebowls stand in the corners to provide ambience and warmth in the cool evenings.  The fire is a tiny echo of the burning lava of the volcano Kilauea, upon which we are situated.  The caldera itself is about ten minutes drive from this site, and readily visited after dark when the glow of the lava rising and falling within can be seen.

Below is price list.  Your wedding may be customized from the a la carte price list, or you may select a package already designed and specially priced.

Rainforest Weddings Packages and Prices

The pricing below is current for calendar year 2012.  Any reservations completed in calendar year 2012 for calendar year 2013 will be at this same price level.  Future reservation prices, for reservations completed in calendar 2013 and beyond are subject to change.  For a full description of services and amenities, please refer to our website and to our Facebook page Rainforest Weddings for additional information and photographs.  Please call or email with any questions.


Zen:  day time wedding, vow renewal, civil union celebration.  Includes:  pavilion site, island music, sounding of the  triton shell, decor, custom ceremony, licensed officiant,  lei, cake, bubbly toast, certificate, on site photography, use of adjacent house for dressing etc, timeline coordination, three night honeymoon stay in either chalet on grounds or off site treehouse.   . . .  $2500
Zen without honeymoon stay  . . . $2000

Rainforest aloha:  day or evening wedding, vow renewal, civil union celebration.  Includes:  pavilion site, island music with guitar player, sounding of the  triton shell, decor, tiki torch path lighting, candle light blessing circle, fire bowls, custom ceremony, licensed officiant,  lei, cake, bubbly toast, certificate, on site photography, use of adjacent house for dressing etc, timeline coordination, three night honeymoon stay in either chalet on grounds or off site treehouse.   . . .  $2900
Rainforest aloha without honeymoon stay . . . $2400
Rainforest aloha plus 12 - 16 living orchids freshly interplanted along path . . . $3500

Rainforest aloha plus intimate meal in pavilion with live music  … $3500 for 2, $3700 for 4 … $4000 for 6, $4300 for 8

Off site ceremony (beach or park) includes celebrant, certificate, custom ceremony, flowers, musician,  photography at celebration, site coordination, permit facilitation … $2500    add 3 night honeymoon at treehouse or chalet … $3200

**all package prices are inclusive of clean up

Photographic excursions:  
half day  Hilo area, morning with waterfalls, beaches, gardens, lagoons  … $850
half day Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Black Sand Beach, heiau and environs  … $850
half day into sunset either of the above  ... $1000
half day Waipio Valley or Kohala Coast beaches & countryside, meet at Waipio overlook …  $1000 
full day west Hawaii park and beach excursion with sunset … $1600

A la carte pricing, pavilion site:
facility use for up to 12 people, includes use of house and pavilion for up to 4 hours . . . $750 
   *please note number 12 includes all using site 
additional hours . . .  $150 per hour
clean up post ceremony  . . . $300 
use of house and grounds inclusive of pavilion from 4 pm day prior to celebration until 10 pm night of celebration, with facility use for 12 people, including clean up: . . . $1200
standard decor, includes altar flowers and  plate rail flowers . . .  $300
add celebrant at pavilion site and custom ceremony …$400
on site photography … $850 
Full living orchid decor along path  . . .  $800
Blessing circle with candles, orchids, ferns, liko, etc:  …  $400
triton shell sounding with lei … $250 
guitar player … $250
lei for celebrant, wedding party of 2  … $100  .. add $12 for each guest
tiki torch path lighting … $200
three night honeymoon at chalet or treehouse … $800
intimate catered candle light meal for two at pavilion … $750   for four… $1000  
                                                                                         for six … $1500   for  eight… $2000
wedding planning services … $1500 and up

other specialty items, such as custom wedding cakes, bridal bouquets, limousine service:  inquire for pricing

The purpose of our package pricing is to facilitate a stress free wedding experience for all involved.  The use of our pavilion allows your ceremony to go forward regardless of the weather, in a totally private setting,  The pavilion provides shelter and enclosure without a sense of separation from the out doors.  It is our goal to provide a romantic Hawaii Island alternative to a justice of the peace or indoor wedding chapel style experience.  Our packages include almost everything broken out in the a la carte pricing if the ceremony is held in our pavilion at Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island.  We also provide off site ceremonies including beach weddings.  

The three night honeymoon as shown a la carte includes flowers, breakfast food and treats, turn down service, all cleaning fees.  Both the treehouse and chalet are situated in a private forest, with lanai hot tubs, top quality beds and linens, less than five minutes from the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Both have kitchens, outdoor showers, and views out into the forest canopy.

Availability:  currently there are openings as early as late July for a pavilion wedding and chalet stay and third weekend in August for pavilion wedding and treehouse stay.  Four to five months out is generally sufficient to find open dates to fit a somewhat flexible time frame.  For specific dates, over six months ahead is recommended.  

We may be reached as follows:
land line  808-238-0633
cell phone 510-965-7367 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hawaiian Rainforest Elopement

Although we happily perform weddings and civil unions all over the island, our rainforest pavilion is at the center of our imagination.  It gives us the versatility to offer a romantic experience that derives from the place itself, this ultra green forest on top of Kilauea Volcano.

This is Sara and Jason.  Sara's favorite flowers are hibiscus.  The hibiscus flower is so delicate it begins to wilt almost as soon as it is picked.  Up in the rainforest, there is enough moisture in the air that the flower holds up a bit longer.  We collected the flowers on the woody stems in the morning, and they retained enough hardiness to stand up in the blessing circle for the wedding, and to adorn the plate rail for the celebratory wedding supper.

Sara wished for a brilliant  pink in her lei, to do with her pink sash.  The pink in the lei is pink ginger petals, braided with ti leaves.  Jason's lei is the traditional maile, a fragrant vine.

The guitar player is William Jaiva.  William plays for us and he plays along with the best of the best island musicians in recording sessions and big events.  We are so lucky he enjoys being a part of the rainforest wedding celebrations.  He plays Hawaiian music and sings.  Some of what he does is all Hawaiian mele, some in English so you can appreciate the lyrics if you do not know the Hawaiian.

Jason and Sara chose a private wedding feast with tiki drinks to complete their wedding celebration.  The sea glass chandelier is our newest addition to the pavilion.  It is an old crystal chandelier reworked with copper wrapped sea glass and an assortment of glass and stone beads.  The lights can be made bright or dimmed down to candlelight level.

The wedding couple arrived late after a long flight, and settled into the chalet on the pavilion grounds for the night.  The next day they had a leisurely visit to waterfalls, and came back for their late day wedding.  After their romantic supper, a treehouse honeymoon.  The first day of their married life starts with a transit of Venus.

If you are not familiar with Hawaiian music, there is a lot on YouTube.  Some Hawaiian families like the Beamer ohana, the Kahumoku ohana, Cyril Pahinui and friends and family have brought Hawaiian music to a level where you do not have to show up here to hear it.  Thanks to YouTube and the internet generally this culture is at your fingertips.  Listen if you have a moment, and be transported to our world.  Here's Darlene Ahuna with Akaka Falls.  mood music to be certain, and views of our beautiful east Hawaii falls.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hawaii Beach Wedding

The Hawaii Beach wedding is such a popular idea that you would think it would be super easy to arrange.  And in many ways it is.  You do an internet search and up pop a plethora of possibilities.

When you look closer, you may notice some of these details:

You cannot put up an arch or canopy at the beach in Hawaii.  When you see an arch in the photo, that is on grass, near a beach, sometimes on private property.  There is no beach ownership of property, hence no private beach.

So since all beach access is public, there is no private beachfront wedding site, other than a private home with beachfront access directly adjacent.

If you long for a sand between the toes Hawaii wedding with maybe no one wandering right through your ceremony, there are a couple of spots we like.  One is pictured right here.  These Keawe trees form multiple corridors between a walking path and the water.  The beach is fairly narrow, and the trees lie right down on the sand.  There are more open areas at either end of this stretch, but right here, for a significant length of beach, the trees form almost outdoor rooms.

We also like this for the photo possibilities.  This is a difficult back lit shot, where the sky is gone white on a sunny day so the texture of the trees shows.  We see a billowy chiffon wedding dress, colorful aloha shirt.  We see a path of orchids and plumeria.  We see candles in glass surrounded by orchids balanced along the branches, tied in raffia streamers from some of the overhanding boughs.  We see tree branch climbing in full wedding regalia.  And we see no one else in the picture.  That is partly because of the way the trees cordon off sections of sand.  That is partly because this beach is just enough off the beaten path that it is possible to claim a spot and secure some privacy.  Not 100% privacy, but enough for a lovely ceremony and lots of fun photos.  Plus the snorkeling is phenomenal.

We can set this up with table and chairs, quilts and pillows, cake and champagne.  It can become an opulent arrangement for a day or an evening. We can bring in candles in hurricane glass and tiki drinks.  A caterer.  The picnic of your wedding dreams, complete with white tablecloth and sunset, guitar player and a long linger in the twilight into evening on a beach now deserted but for you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Night Magic and Music

The winter palette is soft and subdued, with muted colors and firelight warmth.  In the forest on top of the volcano, the beauty of winter is evident year round, especially as night falls and the emerald greens of the surrounding forest fade with the forest filtered light.  Unlike winter weather on other mountaintops, what chill may be in the air may be staved off with fire bowls and candle light, so the wedding party may go on barefoot with aloha attire.  When it is over, the winding curvy path down from the pavilion is illuminated with tiki torches.

Here the ceremony has just concluded.  Outside a thunderstorm is sparkling up the night and rain is streaming down.  The open sides of the pavilion allow the couple to experience the storm from this romantic vantage point.  Loud storms happen once in awhile on top of the mountain, most often in winter.  The thunder will sound and lightning flash and between nature's symphonic percussion the music of the wedding plays the story of the lovers who happily unite within the passionate soundings of the storm.

When planning a wedding in Hawaii, embracing the weather is a significant part of the experience.  If you are seeking pure sunshine, you are best with a west island destination.  For the drama of winter weather, our rainforest pavilion lets you be right there and stay dry and warm.  The surrounding forest is red flowered ohia trees, cedars, and Sugi pines. There are also giant tree ferns, flowering orchids, and anthurium.  It is lovely to walk up through the forest while it is still daylight.  Night falls quickly, so the procession amidst the ferns can happen in the fading light, and the candlelight in the pavilion will already be prominent as the couple enter.  This same effect may be achieved any time of the year, and in summer months, the perfume of the night flowers adds that extra dimension to the experience.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sand as white as snow

Who has never had a deserted island fantasy?  Imagine yourself on this beach.  The sand so white, the sunlight a mellow 85 degrees.  The only footprints are yours.

This is a beach in Hawaii that is on the Big Island.  You can drive in with four wheel drive, if your vehicle is high enough to manage the deep deep ruts and you are willing to take the time to creep along.  You can hike in, with whatever you can carry.  Or, what about a helicopter drop?  This is where it can become one of life's ultimate adventures ...  

Here is how it could work.  You are visiting Hawaii.  Your amazing life partner is with you.  You are moved to do something to honor this person.  What about a helicopter tour over the active volcano, then touch down here?  You have with you a picnic lunch prepared to match your palates. Perhaps something like this:  Tiny island greens, a cold bottle of wine.  Opakpaka prepared with wasabi and flying fish eggs.  Quinoa with Hamakua mushrooms sautéed lightly in a sherry sauce.  A desert of dried starfruit dipped in Hawaiian chocolate.

You bring this along in a basket with a lounging cloth for the beach, and a couple of folding chairs, cloth napkins, bottled water and calamansi.

You are the only two people on this beach.  The helicopter will return in 3 hours.  Meanwhile, leave behind all the constraints of civilization and let yourself become as a Hawaiian of days so far gone by ...  and there can even be music.

We can arrange this ... are you ready?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rainforest Romance ~ Intimate Supper

From time to time we romantics ponder what might be the ultimate romantic dinner.  

There is a scene in the movie Out of Africa where Robert Redford sets up a table on the desert sand, wooing Meryl Streep.  It is a swooningly lovely scene, with the white table cloth and the elegant setting in the middle of the wildness.  

The original idea of the romantic supper in the rainforest pavilion was to offer an alternative to bridal couples to going out to eat at a restaurant.  The romance of the setting is somewhat conveyed in the photo above.  What is missing is the fragrance of the forest, of the orchids and perhaps the tuberose bouquet across the floor on the altar/tiki bar.  You cannot hear the music.  And of course, there is no food showing!

If you are planning on coming to the Big Island to become engaged, or celebrate an anniversary, or if you simply would love to surprise your partner with what could well be the most memorable and most idyllic dining experience you have ever had, consider this.  We can arrange a private and festive supper for you, with the menu of your choice.  We work with some of the most outstanding private chefs on the island.  The ingredients are sourced locally insofar as possible.  We encourage you to try seasonal island cuisine, prepared healthfully, and presented magnificently.  

You may have music via iPod or go all out and have a local guitar player.  Island music or flamenco.  

With enough notice, you may have the choice of finishing your evening at the treehouse, or enjoying the main residence on the same grounds as the pavilion.

If you wonder how you get to this spot, it is very near the main entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  The pavilion itself is up a curvy forest path, interplanted with heart shaped anthurium, orchids, and fragrant ginger.  The path is lit with tiki torches.  

For more photos and an introduction to the treehouse, you may visit our website:


Monday, January 16, 2012

It's been a long time coming...

Renee and Francine celebrated their 24th anniversary together and at long last achieved recognition of their life partner status by the State of Hawaii on Friday January 13, becoming one of the first couples in the state to be joined under the new civil union law that went into effect January 1.

We were honored to be chosen by them to officiate and perform the music.

They elected an oceanside celebration above Honoli'i Beach, just outside Hilo, at a private home on the pali overlooking the ocean.  Francine performed a hula for Renee.  Such beauty, grace, elegance...

Following a certain zeitgeist that has dictated the word "marriage" be reserved for heterosexual couples, the "civil union" in Hawaii is everything that marriage is, under a separate but equal doctrine that would make Martin Luther King Jr shake his head.  Today is Martin Luther King Day, so it is difficult not to think of him and the fight for equal recognition in all ways under the law for those of us who are not society's top dog elites.

None of that was on anyone's mind on Friday when this joyous occasion was celebrated in Hawaii.  It is a little like caviar - even if the dollop on your toast is not beluga from the Caspian Sea, if your best friends are there and the champagne is flowing, the blue ocean is stretching endlessly beneath you, a celebration such as this is still one of the best days in anyone's life.  There was so much joy we could have been drinking apple juice and eating popcorn and it would have been all perfect.  It was a great, great day.

We celebrate Renee and Francine, and we celebrate Hawaii, forward thinking and guided by the spirit of aloha and living pono.  Huzzah.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dressing for a Hawaii Rainforest Wedding

Whatever your preference in attire for your wedding, you can adapt it to a Hawaii Island wedding in the rainforest.  The climate is comfortably cool rather than beach hot, and the pavilion at Mahinui Na Lani provides shelter.  The surrounding forest captures the mountain winds, such that you experience them under all but the most stormy circumstances as gentle swaying of the ohia trees.

Having chosen Hawaii as a wedding locale, it does fit the environment to wear Hawaiian style attire.  Particularly on the Big Island, that is casual.  Casual with flair.  The pavilion is open to the forest, and you will walk through the forest on the way to the ceremony.  A dress that trails on the ground will need to be lifted.  The path is not so difficult that you cannot do this.  For a freer, looser feel. a shorter dress is very nice.  The look and feel of natural fabrics, especially woven linens and light cotton and rayon is particularly fitting to the forest setting.

The dress above is by Gina Mastio and can be purchased from her Etsy shop.  It is designed to be a wedding dress for a forest wedding, and is made of woven organic silk with an inner layer of soft merino wool.  Etsy is a very different way of shopping for your wedding gown.  You will not try it on until it comes to you, so you may want to shop around and find a similar style before you order, just to make sure.  The bonus for you is there is no pressure from the wedding store vendor, and you buy direct from the artisan.

Ivory is the color of choice for most of the brides who have come to us.  However, convention does not rule and any and all colors are suitable.  Reds and greens in particular echo the colors of the forest.  Remember you will be adding lei, and in doing so will add green for the groom and oft times purple for the bride.

This aloha shirt is by Reyn Spooner.  The classic aloha shirt is made of rayon, and has a beautiful drape and feel.  It will last for decades, and retain both shape and color with machine washing in cold water.  When selecting an aloha shirt, one detail to look for is the pocket match on the fabric.  As in the shirt above, the fabric design is an exact match where the pocket is set onto the rest of the shirt.

The search for a great aloha shirt can happen on line, or you can work it into your Hawaii travels.  By far the best all around selection of shirts is found at Bailey's in Honolulu.  With over 15,000 new, used, specialty and vintage shirts you are certain to find your favorite, a shirt for life.  If Honolulu is not a stopover for you, Hilo's bay front offers several shops where you can find aloha wear.  The "Most Irresistible Shop" has a small but tasteful selection of shirts and some dresses too.  Of course Hilo Hattie's is also in town, and there you can even purchase white aloha wear especially for weddings.

The slacks above are linen.  These too can be purchased online, and that is often your best bet as there is no guarantee you will find linen slacks on this island when you need them.  This is one of the drawbacks of living in the middle of the ocean.  Everything you need or want is not always at hand.  Some grooms choose shorts, but most prefer slacks, and linen goes best with aloha shirts.  Denim is too heavy for island wear.

As for footwear, it is completely possible to find stylish shoes that adapt well to island wear.  Remember your photos are likely to show your feet whenever the scene around you is also brought into the picture.  The right footwear may take the better part of a day to locate, or a couple of hours online.  This is something to take care of before you come to the island.  As with the slacks, you cannot count on finding what you are looking for here.  The guys have it easier, as flip flops or slippahs as they are called on island are readily available in a huge variety.  The girls can go this way too, but the female styled slippahs rarely are quit as engineered as the male styles, and the feet slip off them as easily as into them.  We like crocs.   Consider for example the sleek example shown here. A white orchid tied to the thong instantly transforms this into a wedding shoe.  We will provide the orchids and the raffia ties.  Crocs come in
a variety of colors and designs.  Many are surprisingly nice looking on the foot - not the clogs you usually associate with the brand.
The big advantage to this shoe choice is that you will find it is good for beach wear, whether a lava or sand beach.  We used to suggest hiking sandals, but styles have all gone into a rugged look designed for protection of the feet over style.  Great for hiking though!

While you can choose a more conventional pump to wear for your ceremony, remember that you will walk through the forest.  Some brides change into their fancy shoes after entering the pavilion, and change back to walk back down the path.  Some couples are married barefoot.

Whatever shoe choice you make, take your time with it, and you are likely to end up with some footwear that will become your favorite casual shoe choice for months to come.