Saturday, May 10, 2014

How Do You Choose a Venue?

The place where your wedding will take place is a choice that usually begins broadly, with a region in mind and then focuses down. For most, cost factors in. Availability of your chosen venue can be an extreme issue if you are not planning far in advance. One of the most significant parts in making your final choice will be the size of your wedding. And probably the choice of your venue will very much set the parameters for the rest of your costs and even for the number of guests you may invite.

So let's explore venues. A rose is a rose is a rose, but a venue might also be a kitchen and a chef, or it might be a meeting hall in need of decor, or it could be a place so lovely you need little else to set the scene. What the venue offers beyond the place for your celebration can matter greatly. For practical purposes, this means that a more expensive on-the-face-of-it venue can sometimes save you thousands of dollars in added costs, or the cost you see may be the tip of the iceberg.

With a tent, you can transform certain otherwise not so glamorous spaces.  But with a tent, you will need to rent the entire infrastructure for your party, possibly right down to a generator for electricity. The main reason you see so many lavishly decorated wedding tents is that the tent is the way to provide sheltering space for your large party, if you are not going to rent a ballroom. The tent gives you flexibility as to date, decor, and view that you will not have with a ballroom.  And on the subject of ballrooms, many are not all that elegant. Those crystal chandeliers you see in wedding albums are more likely to be rented items hung in tents than what comes with the hotel. One major upside to the ballroom is the temperature control. If you are not having your wedding where the temperature is in the mid 70's to mid 80's, you might need an adjustment to keep your guests comfortable.

Many venues surprisingly enough will not come stocked with those items you most need for your event, and this can add massively to your per person cost. Most venues will come with per person charges as well as venue charges, as every place setting and plate of food carries additional cost. And yet, on the wedding sites we frequently see couples hoping to put together an elegant wedding for 200 people for under $50 a person. Sadly, tables, chairs and linens will gobble up most of that budget. So, is it even possible? The answer is yes, but… you will probably have to redefine "elegant" unless you are borrowing all those accessories from a kindly source who happens to have 200 matching elegant chairs. We can see a beach pavilion with picnic tables dressed in white cloths, with hanging lanterns, within that budget.  Oddly, on this island in the middle of the ocean, weddings of couples who live here tend to fall into two categories. One is the 30 person wedding, held on an estate or at another sort of oceanfront venue, and the other is the 500 person wedding held in a park or stadium. Hawaiians are not shy about stadiums for family events. No caterer, no tablecloths. Everyone brings food, and drinks kava. But, if you want a sit down party, and your budget is trying to be as small as possible, you too may decide to forgo tablecloths.

Indoor or outdoor?  Most couples have a strong preference, and for outdoors, will need to consider what kind of weather might be anticipated. Will you risk no shelter in event of rain? Do you have a back up plan to the lovely outdoor seating should an unseasonal storm blow in?

Here on our Hawaii island, choices are many, but there are some considerations that you will not run into in other less isolated places. If your wedding is planned during the wedding season or during holiday times, if the venue you choose does not come with chairs, tables, and linens, you must plan far far ahead, as the vendors of those items get spoken for a year or more in advance. This is of course is not a consideration in an elopement style wedding.

Instead of well defined seasons in Hawaii, we have altitude changes. Summer is year round on the west side of the island, with "summer showers" in the spring. Summer is at sea level, where there are luxurious rentable houses on the water, resorts, and fine restaurants. Spring happens at about 1000 feet, pretty much all over the island. In some areas, it brings mists, and lush tropical environments. Coffee farms are found at this elevation, and spreading estates with gorgeous grounds. Fall is almost a state of mind on this island, an idea of a time and place where the tree leaves change colors and fall to the ground. If you like the warm toasty aspect of fall, you will like the upcountry of Volcano, where you can have a fire going any time of the year. But the foliage of fall is replaced by the Jurassic essence of the rainforest, emerald green and often dripping wet, or misty and mysterious. Winter on this island can be complete with snow, and a January wedding in Waimea may give you a full view of Mauna Kea crowned in white, and be cool enough for velvet and tuxedos. A formal occasion in Hawaii with formal western attire like suits and ties is best planned for a cooler altitude, like Waimea.

When thinking about a venue, if you have budget in mind, it is well worth your while to find out what comes with the venue, and what you will need to bring in.  If you are having a wedding celebration for 30 people you can expect to pay $1000 for ordinary, very plain table settings including the seating. Any place you will be renting a tent, you will most likely be renting the seating and linens. Expect to pay another $1000 for a very plain undecorated tent. Draping and simple lighting is likely to cost another $1000, and if your decor includes specialty lighting and table flowers, candles and table runners, expect to spend another $1500.  For that $4500 you could rent an oceanfront masterpiece of a home, and bring in flowers for interior decor. You may still need the table and chairs, but the tent? Not always, but sometimes. Specialty lighting? Your choice, perhaps $250 to $300 in exterior lights, nothing more.  If your party is 200 rather than 30,  look what happens to your costs for renting linens. Have you seen the bohemian style wood table reception, out under trees strung with lanterns, mix and match china and cutlery, vintage glasses of all shapes?  Now you know where that comes from. Yes, your ten best friends lend you their stuff, and you bring on the paper napkins or buy the dollar kind, because if you go for the $3 kind, it's already $400 extra dollars.

Here is where our coffee plantation venue begins to become very interesting. Not only is it truly gorgeous, but it comes with shelter, a dance floor, a sound system, specialty lighting, and very importantly your own wedding designer. Let's not use "planner" - it sounds so office like. The person who will put together your wedding will take your ideas and weave them into exactly what you wish.  Spectacular? Yes, we will even bring in sparklers if you want. Exotic? Oh yeah. Elegant? How about crystal chandeliers and mercury glass candle holders, with fountains of orchids?

So how do the prices compare, venue type to venue type? Restaurant dinner costs will tend to be about half or even a quarter of catering fees. You will be asked to pay an automatic gratuity almost everywhere, and that is 20%. This gratuity charge is not usually a part of an elopement package, but is to be expected if your small wedding party exceeds six. Cost of decor goes way down, as you can almost always go with whatever the restaurant offers in the way of lighting, and your tables require whatever attention brings the party to the level you wish. The least expensive table decor you can use is a combination of the bridal bouquet and the groom's maile lei as a runner, a white table cloth, and a few candles.  Expect to pay a little extra for the service of prepping the table for you.  If you want an elaborate setting, remember that your wedding provider will love to do this, and will also need to cover costs of finding the things you want, set up, and removal. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 on up for this service, remembering someone will have to make two trips - one to set up, one to take down. If it is more than a single table, you may need the help of two people to get it all done in the time frame the restaurant will require. Even at this, your costs for decor are going to be a fraction of what you would spend decorating a tent.  There are however few restaurants on this island that will handle a wedding of over 50. Daylight Mind in Kailua-Kona, the restaurant with the view above, is one of them, and yes, you get your own wedding specialist to put it all together for you.

Resorts typically have the highest fees in the scale. We recently priced out a private dinner for 30, served oceanside, at a mid-tier resort, the kind where an oceanfront room is $200 a night. $8500 was the cost, plus the 20% gratuity. Generally speaking, you can expect costs of a similar celebration to rise accordingly at resorts with more expensive rooms.

So how do you choose a venue when you are 3000 to 6000 miles away, and all you have to look at are a few photos online? The very best way is with the help of someone who knows what is out there, and understands your sensibilities, and your budget.

We are Mahinui Hawaii Island Weddings

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hawaii Island Wedding ~ Putting it All Together

If the idea of planning your wedding in all its complexities on an island far away seems too difficult and too expensive, but would be your dream come true, read on.

Today someone who was looking at our website asked what we do. Do we send you to venues? Do we help you connect with whoever you might need?  The answer to those questions is that we start with your dreams and ideas. Once we have a good sense of what you are hoping for in terms of your wedding and how much money you want to spend, we move on to venue possibilities.  As we talk together, your wedding takes shape, and we take care of making sure it happens just as you wish.

We are the direct wedding planners for four distinctly different Hawaii Island venues.

  • There is our Rainforest Pavilion at Kilauea volcano, in the midst of emerald green tree ferns, ohia lehua trees, surrounded by birdsong.  
  • Daylight Mind is an oceanfront venue in Kailua Kona, where the upstairs event space is made exclusively available for the wedding, and you have the services of one of the most accomplished chefs on the island for your wedding feast. The sound of the waves breaking just below the deck and dolphins and whales in season out upon the water plus the promise of the sunset set the stage for your event.  
  • The Kona Coffee Plantation includes layers of tropical gardens, an event tent, a dance floor, panoramic ocean views from South Kona up the Kohala Coast, and the choice of an authentic luau with fire dancers or the services of the same fine chef from Daylight Mind to complete your fest. With the latter selection, you can combine the sensibility of a wine country wedding with the soft breezes scented with plumeria and orchids of Hawaii. 
  • Should you wish something more directly on the water, there is the private catamaran cruise, with or without an ukulele player and singer. You can choose to be married with dolphins as guests, and linger into the Hawaiian sunset on the ocean.  

In the process of selecting the venue, we talk about your anticipated number of guests, any special needs they or you may have, and plan the festivities to fit your budget.  If you anticipate a large number of guests and the only way that can work is if costs are minimized, we can show you ways to work that out so that your guests end up with a Hawaii vacation that costs about half what they would otherwise be spending even for budget travel.  If you are flush and have plans for something people would agree is the party of the decade, we would be delighted to help you with every marvelous detail.  We do not offer you a boatload of suggestions and leave you to sort through them.  As we help you make your plans, we talk about details in terms of wishes you have already communicated to us.

Your honeymoon stay is also on our radar.  We offer a treehouse stay in any package, and can arrange for a romantic cottage on the sand, or an oceanfront suite at one of the top resorts in the world, right here on this island.

Many wedding planners start with a color palette and go from there.  We start with who you are and what you see in your dreams.  We invite you to give us a call.  There is no charge for that conversation.  Let's talk about your wedding.

Please visit our website:

Make Hawaii Island with its sun drenched promises your wedding destination 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First comes Yes, then comes Stress… or does it?

The Big Question has been asked and answered: yes, you are getting married. What is number one on the agenda?

Do you begin a set of Pinterest boards dedicated to everything from invitations to napkin folds? Do you visit wedding sites looking for inspiration or something that looks like your own style? Do you begin to look at this wedding venue and that, within a short drive, or maybe a longer drive?  Do you sign up to have vendors contact you, where you are asked to pick colors and describe the wedding you want but have not yet put together?

All this makes sense on many levels, as you want your wedding to be the very best party you have ever been to. It is also certain to begin to add to your stress level, as your weekends are given over to visiting venues while answering calls from friends and family whose well meaning advice and serious questions begin to make you wonder if it is OK to reduce your guest list based on who annoys you the most. The fantasy of you, stress free, in a hammock overlooking the ocean on a golden beach seems as far away as the moon.

Your prospective mother-in-law suggests you can save money and please all your friends by throwing a vegetarian potluck in the park, and you find yourself shrieking that you do not intend to turn your friends into a catering service. She smiles wickedly (did she ever seem wicked before? Will she ever seem sweet again?) and suggests you go with her friend Margot's catering service then. She has a brochure for you, featuring snails and pureed meats on crackers. You try to smile and briefly wonder if that sick feeling in your stomach might mean on top of everything else you are pregnant.

But, as it turns out you have a fairy godmother. She visits your room while you are sitting on your bed getting it for the first time other why some couples elope somewhere far far away. She leads you outside to the porch swing and waves her magic wand in the air.

"Here is where we start," she smiles at you. "Let's talk about the money. How much are you going to spend on this gorgeous party?"

You give her the impossibly low number of dollars you know you can get your hands on and add in a thousand from your credit line. She says, "Great! Now let's get started."

Over the next hour or so she walks through your fantasy with you. As you tell her things, she shows you pictures. Once in awhile she says things like "If you are willing to stray a little from convention and go with a table seating chart instead of place tags, we can get you that light curtain and stay on track with your budget."

When your mother calls the next day to offer up her friend Helene to make your wedding dress and save you money over store bought, you smile and tell her your fitting appointment is already in the works.  It was a small fib, and not the first or last you will tell during this process, but you know there will be a fitting and there will be a wedding, without snails.

This is the role of the wedding designer. This person begins with the given of how much money you are going to spend,  takes your wishes of what the elements of the wedding should be, and almost like magic puts it all together to become all you want it to be. Generally this can happen without a potluck in the park.

If it is a Hawaii Island wedding you might be interested in, we are here, wand in hand. And yes, you could be in that hammock, at that very spot. It can all happen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wedding Colors, Hawaii Style

Hawaii weddings can follow many pathways, and along the way, couples will encounter the latest trends. Some of these such as flowers strewn along the outdoor "path to the altar" lend themselves perfectly to a certain style of outdoor wedding.  Like other styles, colors tend to trend, regardless of context. When choosing themes and colors for your wedding, it is helpful to look at photos from your venue, to get to know what colors are already prominent there. That scheme will form the basis for your palette. If you are using a tent with top and sides that are non-see through, the whole scheme is up to you. Otherwise, how much blue sky and ocean, or  deep forest and green or gray tropical mountainscape fill your view?  Does a color emerge as dominant? Will the outdoors fade to black because your wedding is at sunset and when the party starts, it will be dark night outside?

If the flowers at your wedding are important to your sense of color scheme, browse what is in season on the date you have selected, in the region of your wedding. Local flowers will be the freshest, often transported a short distance with great care to avoid bruising and bending of petals.

Here you see a cymbidium orchid, as it grows on the plant. The plant itself is large and unsuitable for table decor. The stems and sprays and the individual blooms are sculptural and lend themselves to idyllic styles in wedding table arrangements. These particular orchids are seasonal, your flower bonus for choosing a winter date in Hawaii for your celebration.  Some growers can produce blooms year round, but the color selection will not be as extensive for out of season flowers. In choosing colors for a Hawaiian destination wedding, taking cues from this particular flower will give you ivory, golden yellow and old rose.  The way this can play out is to combine this orchid with other kinds of orchids, anthuriums, and tuberose in the same colors.

The Hawaii Island style weddings often incorporate whatever flowers are in season. These blooms are sometimes gigantic, like the heliconia may be, and are best used in ultra large arrangements for places other than the dining tables. Huge dramatic flower arrangements can also be informal, tied to the tent poles at the entrance, for example. Often palm fronds are combined with heliconia and ginger in local wedding celebrations held at beach pavilions. No alcohol permitted, however, at beach pavilions, or at the beach. To have a beachfront wedding in Hawaii with alcohol and a reception, you rent a beachfront house or estate. We have located a selection of these particularly suited to weddings.

So for colors to express your style… or to inform your choice of brides maids dresses… take a look at Hawaiian flowers. Think about the colors that will surround you here. If you are choosing a rainforest wedding, you are in the midst of emerald green. There will be red accents of the forest birds and anthuriums in the landscape. From the riot of colors available, you may be drawn to the reds and oranges, or to lighter shades like the chartreuse of the newly opening fern fronds. For a beach wedding, look at the color of Hawaiian waters. Brilliant aqua. The sands tend to be golden along the Kohala coast rather than white. Black edges most Big Island shorelines.

When sending your invitations, remember that how your guests dress will play into the overall visual of your extravaganza. We have seen Hawaiian wedding guests take the casual nature of the island to the extreme, showing up dressed more as if they were going to build a rock wall than participate in a fancy party. We have also seen men struggle for comfort in suit jackets and ties with the weather in the mid 80s.  We suggest this:  "Cocktail attire, aloha style".  Generally this will be interpreted as aloha shirts and linen or cotton slacks for the men, and Hawaii style dresses for the women, upscale rather than ABC store casual. Be careful of the use of the word "casual" to describe Hawaii style - casual in Hawaii, especially on the Big Island, translates to halter tops, tee-shirts, slippahs, and shorts.  You may think your mainland friends would not come to your classy oceanfront wedding looking they were on their way to the beach to strip down and boogie board, but the surprise is many visitors are quick to adopt the local style.

When your big event is all over, what you will have is the memory and the photos. When we help plan weddings, we think about how it is all going to look when you look back. We want your thoughts to be that it was all more beautiful than you ever dreamed, the moment you see it, and every time you look back through your memory and at your photographs.

We wish you much aloha in planning your event. If you are considering a Hawaii Island wedding, please visit our website and see if we might be a good fit for your style and dreams.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Oceanfront Wedding, Kona Style

Kailua-Kona is a Big Island village generally thought of as the liveliest locale on the island, with its boutique restaurants and shops, sunset cruises and parasailing, Hulihe'e Palace and rich Hawaiian heritgage, wild dolphin journeys and whale watches. The weather is likely to be close to perfect. Since 1981, Kona has hosted the Ironman triathlon, an event that originated on Oahu and then moved over to the less congested Big Island.  Ironman gear can found year-round in Kailua-Kona. One of the beautiful aspects of Kona town is the walk along the seawall, the village across the street, the streets humming with life but not stuffed with traffic. Faces of the people you see are happy to be here. Happy to be alive, in this place of uncompromising beauty and Hawaiian style.

This oceanside town has three major hotels. One is at each end of Alii Drive where the shops and restaurants are, and the Sheraton is a bit farther south, at Keauhou. Visitors to Kona may stay at one of these resorts, a condo, or rent one of the many private homes either along the waterfront, in town, or above the village in the coffee country. Some choose the resorts along the Kohala Coast to the north for their ample beachfront. The history of old Hawaii is evident in Kona, and efforts over the decades of development that came along with an expanding mainland economy to preserve the essence of Kona have paid off. The businesses along Alii Drive tend to cherish the island history and culture, and extend a warm aloha to visitors and locals alike.

A newcomer to Kona town is Daylight Mind Restaurant and Coffee Company, in the heart of Kona, along the Alii Drive promenade. The photo above is from the first wedding they have hosted. The restaurant is downstairs. Up a wide koa staircase is their event area, dedicated to private parties.

The event area wraps around the bay side and ocean face of the building, that juts out almost right over the water. There is strip of lawn between the rear of the building and the waves below. It is not uncommon to see whales breaching and tail slapping in the winter, and pods of spinner dolphins cavorting in the endless blue. Palms reach out into the view like graceful dancers. Sunsets fill the sky nearly every evening, washing it in golds, oranges, reds and pinks.  Sitting at a table along the glass wall, your view is directly to the waves breaking onto the flat smooth pahoehoe edging the ocean here. Patches of coral sand are interspersed along the black edge of the island. The water is pure turquoise under the clear sky.

Despite the lure of the sunset, the very best time for a party is the afternoon. You are welcome to linger as the sky fills with colors, however we encouraage you and your guests to enjoy the sheer beauty of the location in its glory when the sun is still high in the sky.

Here, you see part of the view of Kona Village ringing the Bay. From a side table, you are treated to the sweep of the waterfront with its orange roofline.

The owners of Daylight Mind have great enthusiasm about sharing the beauty of their location with wedding parties. The chefs are eager to show off their versatility and imagination, to create one of a kind celebratory feasts. We will be back next week to show off some of their efforts.

To learn more, visit us with your wedding inquiry:

We wish you much aloha.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Destination Wedding ~ Hawaii Island

The destination wedding - a popular choice for couples who have been through the wedding experience already, just not with each other. It is not necessarily that they prefer not to deal with the inevitable friends and family issues, but more that they want the experience to belong to them. And more first timers are joining in the far away wedding trend. What is it about a destination wedding that appeals?

It has everything to do with the focus of the celebration. With a large wedding, meaning one with family and friends, not only the planning centers upon the guests, but also the sequence of the events. As you plan a wedding, extravagance is encouraged. The more energy you put into it, the less it becomes about you and the more it is a production designed to impress others.

We find the question of "is the standard thing really the way you want to get married" worth asking, because we know you can toss a very very nice party for 50 people for about $500, at your own place. You can bring in a private chef for maybe triple that, and do something amazing, if you rent a house with great seating. That is very much the spirit we bring to your Hawaii Island wedding. If you don't live here, and the prospect of putting something as off the beaten path as a non-resort wedding party at a private house may seem very far fetched, but that's what we do.With the private house, you are not sharing a resort and therefore your personal wedding with hundreds of other people who happen to be resort guests too. Private house, private venue. You will sometimes have the option of renting the house strictly as the wedding venue or take it for several days and use it as the place friends and family stay on afterwards.

Have you browsed photographs of weddings? They are so beautifully, heartbreakingly romantic. The couple are pictured getting dressed, arriving at the ceremony. There are kiss pictures, usually not the one during the ceremony. There are shoes. You will see a selection of lovely photos incorporating the picturesque venue. Sometimes you see the wedding party. But most of the shots are of the couple only. Most of these pictures are not reflecting the actuality of the hustle and pizzazz of the wedding. Here is the separating facotr: with the intimate destination wedding, your wedding really will be just like the photos.

Destination weddings with friends and family tend to be smaller than at-home weddings. But they are not necessarily the weddings of the rich and famous.  Cost is a relevant factor. Consider this. Along the Kona coast in Hawaii, your guests can stay in a rental house with a pool for about $100 a couple per night, staying a full week. A comparable room in a resort would be $275 a night. Want something classier? Always possible. If you are able to travel on Hawaiian Airlines, the wedding couple and guests can travel at a discounted price and the couple may qualify for a free first class upgrade.  This is something to think on - what is better than a trip to Hawaii where your best friends are getting married, at a price about half what you would otherwise pay for the vacation?

We recently put together a wedding and reception in Kona for 24. The venue is absolute oceanfront, and completely private. Catering is onsite. We arranged transportation via limo for the wedding couple from their resort up the coast. Organza streamed from the sails set overhead for shade. Table centerpieces were orchids and plumeria. There was a guitar player.  Ceremony late in the day, sunset following for photos. Professional photography. The food, locally sourced and presented with panache. Drinks, wine and beer bar, with a champagne cocktail for the toast. Cost, below $5000 for the wedding and reception. Can you do this at home? Not sure the ocean, plumeria scented air, and 82 degree weather will come along at your command.

Huff Post recently published a blog asking if destination weddings are really stress free. The main message there was not everyone wants to spend the time and money to come to your wedding, and maybe buy a bride's maid gown too. The beauty of the destination wedding is not actually the culling factor, separating those who will do anything for you from the rest. It is about setting aside very precious time in an optimum way for what is really one of the most intimate times of your life. If your friends are adventurous and take vacations anyway, it can work to invite them. If you'd prefer something more intimate and a party at home afterwards, on this island that gives you the latitude to stay in a cottage on the sand, get married in the rainforest or on an isolated spit of land where the waves break below you, spend a couple of nights in a treehouse, and relax into leisurely afternoons letting someone else bring you food and drink while you watch the ocean change moods. We know, you can make it your honeymoon. But we're here to tell you it can be the wedding too.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let's Talk Venue Types and Styles

Aloha from Hawaii Island. Pretty cool wave, all right. This is not a view from the beach, but from about twenty feet up. This particular spot is in the weeds, up a short cliff, adjacent to a resort. Amazing view, and not quite available as a wedding venue, unless you want just the two of you and a celebrant. Sweet place to wander off to with a bottle of champagne after the event though.

When thinking about a wedding venue, you have certain obvious considerations. One is price - sticker shock can feel like a way of life when you start pricing places with panache. Another is, weather. Will you be outside for the festivities, subject to freak weird weather? Or, is weird weather becoming less and less unusual… so, will you go with a tent?  If a tent, how important is the look of the venue? You don't want your wedding guests passing the local homeless encampment on their way to your tent, of course. But the beauty of the place will not factor into the party much if you are tented.  

A less obvious factor when thinking about your venue, especially if you are not here to walk it yourself, is the composition of the view. We heard that a local old time hotel that has undergone some massive renovations has added a wedding locale. We hustled over to take a look, and concluded we would not recommend it to our couples. The reasons why are a bit picky on our part. It is pretty much on the ground. There is a concrete pad, and a roof. But it has the same sort of feel as a $60 county park venue, except the chairs aren't benches attached to nailed down tables. It can be jazzed up, of course, but the cost of adding lots of decor and keeping it tasteful is quite pricey. Although the ocean is right there, the view is not so dramatic because you are level with the water. It is a bay, so there are not likely to be waves unless it is stormy.  You and your guests will notice the proximity when you walk up, and then forget about it. There is a walking path, but it will take people away from your party.

Our new favorite wedding locale is in Kona. It has an upper view, where your wedding will be away from the street and the noise, and not subject to people walking into it or through it. It is private. This is difficult to achieve in an ocean front setting as the beach belongs to everyone, and everyone is always welcome, anywhere on it. This is not an upper view from the hillside, miles away, but from a building right on the ocean.  The architecture of the place is appealing. There is the inside space in case the sky opens up. We have been making arrangements with the owners and talking to our local specialty vendors to put together an afternoon wedding package for up to 25 people that will cost under $5000.  A sunset package for up to 50 people with a seated dinner comes in under $8000 with limo service for the bride and groom.  These prices include the inevitable gratuity and tax charges all vendors add for large parties. In Hawaii, those extra charges come in at nearly 25%. Take another look at our inclusive prices…  What do you get with us? We arrange every detail for you, and help you with anything else you might need.  You will have a licensed celebrant, shell blower, custom ceremony, wedding lei, an arch with drape and orchids, table decor on white linens, a signature champagne cocktail and either "bottle service" or wine and beer, a bartender, an array of Hawaiian inspired small plates or a full wedding buffet, music that can include live guitar, wedding cake adorned with orchids, limo service, and wedding photography, all in a gorgeous classy setting right on the ocean, with a blue blue view that can become a sunset view if that is your choice. 

Bottle service is something we can arrange with the venue, in lieu of the per person wine and beer charge.  For the afternoon for twenty five guests, we selected a prosecco signature cocktail for the wedding toast, and prosecco at a bottle rate for 12 bottles.  Maybe you would prefer your bubbly to originate in France and proudly carry the label "champagne" - it will be as you wish.

When we design a wedding package as an offering to you, the brides and grooms, we try to put together the most elegant party at the classiest venue at the best price. If you are intrigued, go on over to our website, and send us an inquiry.  Aloha! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Your Wedding Photographs

If you are planning your wedding, chances are you have at least one photo board on Pinterest where you keep your ideas, and images of weddings that speak to you. If you do not, you might like to at least browse the Pinterest wedding boards to see what is there.

The photos you see on the major wedding sites and on Pinterest show you how far wedding photography has come from the series of set shots that dominated the industry for so long. No more line ups of the wedding party and guests three deep like the annual classroom photo. You will see very few photos of weddings that include guests beyond the bridal party itself on any of these sites.

If you love the look of a certain place, but your wedding and reception are not there, consider having a photo session done where the look is all you dream of.  Our destination wedding couples often opt for a photo session where we take them to various places on the island that are super photogenic.

There are of course those aqua water spots with the ultra Hawaiian sensibility, and we love those for the context. But we also seek out spots that have something to do with the things the couple is drawn to, like this 50s style diner that appealed to this couple.

Brides who collect photos of other brides, and want to recreate something they have seen elsewhere are not necessarily going to be happy with the result. If you do not tell the photographer what you are looking for in those poses, peculiar things can happen. I photographed a couple where every time we changed locales, the groom would lift her into the air. She was stiff as a board when he did this, except her head was angled toward him. I didn't realize the effect they were going for until I got home and began the editing process. It was too late then to tell her to kick her feet backward, or at least one foot, and bend way low, hovering just over his face.  Even had I done that, the pose was clearly not natural to them.

A couple will typically fall into normal postures and attitudes during a photo shoot, if the pace is relaxed and the stress of day to day life is forgotten.

A natural photo tends to be the most beautiful, and show the couple at their best. This means the photographer is walking a narrow line in posing the couple, encouraging them to relax, and at the same time, let them express themselves, as they are.

My suggestions for couples who are having wedding photography done are these:

  •     Consider a pre-wedding or post-wedding photo session, with a change of clothes or two.
  •     Select a photographer based on your enjoyment of their portfolio.
  •     If there is a wedding pose you want to try, make a print and bring it along.
  •     Make sure you have the digital images at your disposal, so you can make a wedding book, put                                          together a video of your favortie shots, and pull off the shots you love to your own digital album.
  •     Keep a digital album online, so if something happens to your computer, you wil not lose your photos. 
  •     Above all, enjoy this. You are the stars of this session, so bask in it. Love it. You are at your most beautiful, happier than you have ever been. You will see that every time you look at your wedding pictures. They simply get better and better. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Elements of a Perfect Day * * Part 2

Your big day is coming right up. Here you are in Hawaii, and your wedding will be happening … this day you have anticipated in many ways and in many moods over years.

What better way to get ready for your amazing occasion than on this golden beach, and in this turquoise water.

This is Waialea Bay, the beach popularly known as Beach 69. It is not marked on the highway. There are no signs to it. The road there is a twisty little potholed sometimes single lane stretch between Puako and Hapuna. I am giving away nothing here, as Yelp shows it, and guidebooks tell you exactly how to get there.  So, it may not look as empty as it does in this photo, particularly on a summer day, or during the winter holidays. However, a weekday during the rest of the year can be just what you see here. Sweet stretches of sand punctuated by a few beach chairs, people chatting. Keawe trees stretching into the ocean.  A couple of rope swings. A long stretch for walking. the ocean itself, just right for snorkeling or swimming, most days.

For perfection, bring along a hammock and string it in the keawe. Sound a little extreme? You can buy one at the Bamboo in Hawi, about a forty-five minutes north, and mail it home to yourself at the end of your stay. Why not?

Bring along sunscreen, and a picnic. There are no food vendors here.  Stay for the sunset, and don't be surprised if it gets so dark as you return to your car that you wish you had a flashlight. You may be walking by the light of your cell phone.

Waialea Bay may feel far from the rest of the world while you are there, but there are some great places to stop for dinner just a few minutes away.  Next blog post!